by Louise Ayer
Louise has spent seventy plus years playing and learning in her kitchen, her greenhouse, and her garden, all of which she calls her kitchen. She has always found it to be her source of inspiration, and connection whether they are growing herbs, vegetables, and fruits year round or creating delicious and health sustaining meals, body lotions, teas, and infusions, which she joyfully offers her readers.
My husband loves bananas. He eats two a day; one first thing in the morning and one in the late afternoon. But this time of year, with the warmer temperatures, no matter how we plan, it is hard to eat all the bananas before some of them become overripe. We buy organic bananas, which are more expensive, so we use the overripe ones whenever we can to make delicious Banana Nut Muffins.
I have been making banana nut muffins probably since I was in my teens. Anyone who bakes probably has made this near the beginning of their baking experience. Banana muffins or banana bread and chocolate chip cookies and brownies are probably the first things we try when we are kids and want to start baking.
This is true in the United States, but in large parts of the world, especially in the Third World, people do not grow up learning to bake. To bake you need an oven, and they can’t afford an oven. They might cook on an open fire, outside, or, if they cook inside, it might be on a couple of burners that burn propane or kerosene. To bake, you essentially need a box that is insulated and holds heat into which you can place a container that holds your dough. To people who have not had the experience as a child, baking looks magical and very difficult to master. My husband feels this way. He thinks I am some master chef because I can bake. He is every bit as talented a cook as I am, but he has a different set of skills.
I am proud to offer you this recipe. It is one of those recipes that nurtures your body. The ingredients are all health-sustaining, and yet the muffins are so delicious that even my sugar-loving husband loves them.
These muffins are made with one hundred percent whole grain. Whenever I can, I prefer to bake with whole grain flour. It has all the parts of the grain, so it breaks down more slowly in your body and doesn’t spike your blood sugar the way white flour does. It is full of minerals and has more protein than white flour. But whole grain needs to be soaked overnight because it contains something called phytic acid, which bonds with the minerals in the flour and prevents your body from being able to absorb them. If your recipe does not have enough liquid to allow your grain to soak overnight, then you can use sprouted grain. Sprouted grains have been soaked in order to sprout, so the phytic acid is already neutralized in the process of sprouting. The sprouting process raises the protein level of the flour still higher, as well as adding additional vitamins. I like spelt. It is an ancient form of wheat. I buy my organic wholegrain sprouted spelt online.
There is no added sugar in this recipe, just a touch of maple sugar. That is enough sweetness when combined with the natural sweetness of ripe bananas.
And finally, I used ghee, the super clarified butter with its unique caramelized flavor and health giving qualities. The September 2022 issue of Unconditional Freedom has the complete process of making ghee for those of you who would like to know more.
Banana Nut Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
All organic ingredients
The riper the bananas, the stronger and sweeter the muffins will be. The banana peels should be partly blackened or spotted and soft, and smell very sweet but not fermented.
½ cup ghee
1 tsp vanilla
1½ cups mashed ripe banana (about 4 medium or 3 large bananas)
¼ cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
zest of 1 orange
2 cups sprouted spelt flour
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ cup chopped nuts (see Chef’s Note)
Chef’s Note: You can use any nuts you like walnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans. They can even be roasted and mildly salted.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a muffin tin with ghee.
Cream the ghee and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Add the vanilla and bananas, maple syrup, and orange zest, and stir until smooth.
In a separate bowl measure in the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and stir until combined. Add the nuts and combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until smooth, but no more. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin all the way to the top and let it rest on the counter for 30 minutes uncovered. The rest will allow the muffins to rise higher.
Bake at 350 F for 23 to 28 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the muffins are rich and brown. Remove the muffin tin from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin. Let the muffins cool completely before storing in an airtight container if not enjoying them right away. You can keep them in the fridge for 5 days or put them in a freezer bag and freeze them for 2 months.
Variation: Banana Nut Bread
Make the batter as above. Pour into a 5-by-9 loaf pan greased with ghee. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before baking. Bake the bread for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If during the last 10 minutes of baking it looks like it is browning too much, lay a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the top. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Then turn the loaf out of the pan onto the wire rack and let it cool completely before slicing.