Sautéed Bananas!

foodI think I have a new favourite cooked fruit dessert. It’s easy to prepare, healthier than a lot of other desserts, plus it’s gluten-free and dairy-free. Not to mention that it tastes good.

Last week, among the six of us at Friday night dinner, there was a new mix of  food restrictions. An interesting challenge for me, because I like trying new recipes, and I like to make food that everyone at my table can eat. My dinners are usually low in gluten and lactose, but this time I also had to avoid alcohol, and there was a possibility that one person would be restricted to soft foods.

sautéed bananasI thought of sautéed bananas right away, but the recipe for Bananas Flambé that I’ve made in the past (from Bonnie Stern’s Simply HeartSmart Cooking) calls for rum.

I felt I was on the right track when I found a YouTube video for Betty’s Luscious Fried Bananas. It looked wonderful, but I wanted to tone down the richness and the sweetness.

I substituted coconut oil for butter, increased the number of bananas, decreased the ratio of sugar to bananas, and added a couple of spices. It still turned out delicious and sweet. There was a small amount left over, and we enjoyed it two days later.

My one caveat – I find there’s a big variation in taste among different coconut oils, so use one you like. When I started to sauté the bananas, I thought the coconut oil might overpower the banana flavour. I decided that if I sprinkled toasted coconut on top, the flavour would seem more intentional. Everyone seemed to like it.

We ate the dessert on its own, but it would also be great as a warm topping for ice cream or plain cake.

Here’s the (non-)recipe. No amounts needed, and you can play with the spicing. It’s quick enough to prepare last-minute.

Frances’ Fried Bananas (inspired by Betty)

unsweetened flaked coconut (optional)

coconut oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan, plus a little more)

ripe, but not over-ripe, bananas (I used 6)

lemon juice

brown sugar (I used 2 or 3 tablespoons)

cinnamon to taste

nutmeg to taste

sea salt

1. If using flaked coconut, toast in non-stick pan on low heat until coconut starts to turn brown. Set aside.

2. Cut bananas in diagonal slices.

3. Heat coconut oil in large frying pan on medium heat.

4. Add bananas, and sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon,  nutmeg, and a bit of sea salt.

5. Saute, reducing heat, and stirring carefully, until cooked but not too soft.

6. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if you like.







Cheeseless Cheesecake with Green Door’s Gluten-Free Nut Crust

cheeseless cheesecakeIn the spirit of Shavuot (the Jewish holiday when it’s customary to eat dairy), I made a cheeseless cheesecake this week, using Tofutti cream cheese. The recipe, on Chabad’s website, has been circulating for the past few weeks, but it’s been around for a while.

It’s become my go-to cheesecake recipe for a number of reasons. I’m lactose-intolerant, and so are some of my family members. Also, the recipe is simple to prepare (always a bonus), and it tastes and looks good.

But a prepared crust? No. Well, once. But that was an exception.

Now, instead of a prepared crust, I use a great, easy recipe from The Green Door, a vegetarian restaurant in Ottawa that has fabulous, nourishing food.

The crust is part of a recipe for Cocoa-Banana Pie that I found in my Green Door Cookbook. It’s called Rice Crust, because it’s made with rice flour. But I find more people comment on (and like) the nuttiness of the crust, which provides a nice contrast to the cheesecake. Actually, I think it “makes” the cake. But arranging fruit on top in a pretty pattern also helps.

To make the cheeseless cheesecake, go to But to make it extra-special, substitute the crust below for the ready-made one in the original recipe, and top the cake with cut fruit once it has started to cool, pressing the fruit into the cheesecake.

Gluten-Free Nut Crust (aka “Rice Crust”), Reprinted with permission from The Green Door Cookbook

¾ c. raw almonds

¾ c. brown rice flour

1/3 c. canola oil

1/3 c. maple syrup

Pinch of salt

¼ tsp. cinnamon

In a food processor, grind the almonds until they resemble bread crumbs. In a bowl, mix ground almonds, rice flour, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix oil with maple syrup. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Press into an oiled and floured 9 ½ or 10-inch pie plate. Bake 5 minutes (10 max!) at 350. (The cookbook suggests a baking time of about 25 minutes, until lightly browned, for a recipe with a no-bake filling.)

Add filling, and proceed with recipe.





Simpler than Simple Brazilian Banana Bread

It’s hard to improve on the recipe for Ridiculously Simple Banana Bread, from Susan Mendelson’s Mama Never Cooked Like This.

But I decided to try – not to make it better tasting, just to make it one step easier.

photo(28)I actually wanted to resurrect a recipe that a friend from Brazil gave me many years ago, but I turned to my cookbooks when I couldn’t find it. My friend called her recipe “Lazy Banana Pie,” even though it was a banana bread baked in a loaf pan.

What made it different from Mendelson’s recipe, and any other banana bread I’ve tried, is that the bananas were cut up instead of mashed. Cutting the bananas simplifies an already-easy recipe, and provides an interesting contrast in texture.

Also, my friend’s recipe called for cinnamon, which I’ve been trying to incorporate into my diet lately. Cinnamon has all kinds of health benefits, according to numerous online articles like this one from Medical News Today.

I couldn’t find the recipe for Lazy Banana Pie, so I decided to play with Mendelson’s recipe. However, without the mashed bananas, the consistency was off. I ended up mashing part of one banana, and cutting up the rest. It turned out well… and my kitchen smelled delicious!

Simpler than Simple Brazilian Banana Bread (adapted from Susan Mendelson’s Ridiculously Simple Banana Bread)

1 1/4 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon, or more to taste

2 eggs

1/2 c. oil

1 c. sugar

2 large ripe bananas

extra cinnamon to taste

1. Sift together flour, baking soda and cinnamon.

2. In separate bowl, mix eggs, oil, and sugar with fork. Add to dry ingredients.

3. Cut two bananas in pieces, and mash about 3/4 of one banana to add to mixture. Blend well, add more cinnamon to taste if desired, and stir in remaining pieces of banana.

4. Spoon batter into greased loaf pan. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon.

5. Bake at 350 for about an hour.