This gluten-free banana loaf with dates and pecans is full of healthy energy, plus it’s great for breakfast or fuel for a workout. It’s also refined sugar free and fat-free.
This gluten-free banana loaf is packed with dried fruit and polenta, making it a nourishing and energising breakfast. Although it has no fat or refined sugar it will keep you going until lunchtime. It’s slightly dense and lightly spiced with cinnamon.
Are you excited about the Olympics? I certainly am! Although I’ve never been much of an athlete, I’ve always loved watching as much of the Olympic and Paralympic Games as I can. Call me soppy, but it often makes me cry (blushes). I just always think about the hard work that has gone into getting the athletes to where they are and how proud their friends and families must be. From the opening ceremony to the closing, I find watching the Olympics a bit of a wonderful emotional rollercoaster. I hope it’s not just me!
I went to London 2012 Olympics and certainly found that emotional. The city and the Olympic park were completely alive with passion, pride and glory. It was an unforgettable experience and I’m so glad that we were also able to take our kids, who were tiny at the time. We cheered ourselves hoarse willing on Team GB, and we’ll be doing it again this year, albeit in front of the telly rather than in the stadiums. I hope a lot of dreams come true for our Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
I’m working with the National Lottery Good Causes campaign, The Food Champions, to help spread their message about healthy eating and keeping fit. They’ve teamed up with current Olympic and Paralympic athletes and former champions to share their recipes and nutritional tips for sporting success.
Banana Loaf by the Brownlee Brothers
This recipe comes from triathlete brothers Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee. They use this gluten-free banana loaf to recover between their intensive training sessions.
Alistair Brownlee won gold in the triathlon at the London 2012 Olympics and he is the two-time World Champion following wins in 2009 and 2011. Alistair and younger brother Jonathan became the first siblings to share a podium at the Olympics for more than a century when as well as Alistair’s gold, Jonny won bronze at London 2012. Between them, the Brownlee brothers have collected an astonishing seven World titles, two Olympic medals, two European titles and numerous junior and senior titles. Keep up with the Brownlee brothers and be sure to cheer them both on!
The Brownlee brothers’ nutritionists at the English Institute of Sport (EIS) say that this gluten-free banana loaf provides a mixture of fast and slow release carbohydrates from the polenta, bananas and dates to help replenish energy stores after training. They advise that the dates, raisins and sultanas contain iron to help boost the development of red blood cells which aid endurance, and this loaf is perfect for recovering between training sessions.
- 250g (1½ cups) dates, pitted
- 1 large banana
- 100g (3/4 cup) pecans, chop half and leave the rest whole
- 200g (1⅓ cups) raisins
- 200g (1⅓ cups) sultanas
- 100g (1/2 cup) fine polenta or cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
- 2 egg whites
- Heat oven to 160⁰C/320F and grease and line a loaf tin.
- Put the dates into a small pan with 200ml boiling water and simmer gently for 10 mins, ensuring that they don't scorch.
- Drain the liquid into a jug, then put the dates into a blender or food processor. Add the bananas and 100ml of the date liquid (topping up with warm water if necessary) and whizz until smooth. Stir the pecans, raisins, sultanas, fine polenta, ground cinnamon and baking powder in a bowl, then add the date purée and mix until combined.
- In a separate bowl or stand mixer, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then gently fold into the batter.
- Pour the mixture into the tin (it will be quite full), and level.
- Bake for 1 hour until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes in the tin, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Nutritional facts per serving: Kcal 371 Protein 9g Carbs 65g Fat 8g
Take a look at other dishes that fuel your favourite Olympic athletes by following the hashtag #foodchamps across social media.
More healthy recipes are at TheFoodChampions.
Disclosure: This post was commissioned to promote Food Champions. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make it possible for me to mess up my kitchen and write Veggie Desserts – Healthy Food & Lifestyle.