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.







Chocolate Sunday – Chocolate Show in Toronto/Chocolate Fun in Niagara!

Toronto’s fourth annual Luxury Chocolate Show is coming up November 2, and I probably won’t get there. Sigh! I enjoyed it so much last year. It’s the final event of a larger chocolate festival, which includes chocolate high tea at the King Edward Hotel.

There are also coupons available if you click on “Chocolicious” (under events) on the chocolate festival page. One of the coupons in particular caught my eye – the one for Criveller, in Niagara Falls, Ontario – because it ties into what I wanted to write about in this post.

Last Sunday, my husband and I rented bikes in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and planned to cycle the wine route.

We added an extra stop to our route when we learned that there’s a chocolate factory in St. David’s, about a 12-km ride from where we started. It opened in 2005. How did I not know this before?

Much to my chagrin, my husband – who was leading the way – overshot the chocolate factory. Pretty much everyone I know cycles faster than I do.

chocolate f:x factory

If you don’t want to go right past Chocolate F/X like we did, this is what it looks like.

I caught up with him near the entrance to Ravine Winery, and we decided to check it out before heading back to Chocolate F/X.

We had a light lunch (soup and a sour cream/chive muffin), and after tasting a couple of wines, headed to Ravine’s “grocery” store to try an oversized, over icing-sugared doughnut.

chocolate mousse doughnut ravine winery

Ravine Winery’s chocolate mousse-filled doughnut – decadent!

I wasn’t particularly tempted by it until I found out that it was stuffed with… wait for it… chocolate mousse. Whoa! It wasn’t just a doughnut; it was an experience! Messy, fun to eat, and more than enough for two people. We got lucky with the chocolate mousse, because they rotate fillings.

While we were waiting in line, we spoke to a local woman, who recommended Criveller. We’ll have to check it out next time we’re in Niagara Falls.

At Chocolate F/X, we took a 20-minute tour. More fun, and a variety of samples. We bought some milk chocolate maple walnuts and two dark chocolate peanut butter cups. We were advised to hold the peanut butter cups upside-down to eat, because the chocolate top is thicker than the bottom. Delicious!







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.