Going bananas

Going bananas
Jenny Morris

Fooding Around with Jenny Morris

As I turned over in my bed the other night I felt the beginnings of a cramp making its way up the inside of my leg and before I knew it, I was bouncing about on the carpet in absolute agony with a fully-fledged version of the bugger.
The dogs lying at the foot of the bed got so scared that they barked the whole house awake and my husband was reaching for the baseball bat because he thought we were under attack.

I never want to experience that pain again; I know it was not only brought on by the cold weather. It had to be some kind of deficiency in my diet my mother said.
Now I’m a girl that knows what’s good for her body, and I know that bananas have wonderful health benefits. They keep the brain happy because they contain high levels of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin – the happy hormone.

They protect your body against muscle cramps during workouts (ha; I don’t even know when I last worked out), but most importantly to prevent the night-time leg cramps, all I have to do is eat bananas. So I’m going to go bananas, eating the fruit in any way, shape and form that I can, starting off with two ripe, firm, freckled, fragrant bananas a day.
This sustains one’s blood sugar, reduces PMS symptoms, and because they are high in potassium and low in salt, bananas are recognized by the experts as being able to lower blood pressure and protect against heart attacks and strokes, another reason I need them – I really thought I was going to have a heart attack; the pain in my leg was that hectic.

They are fabulous if you are constipated I’m told, because they have a high fibre content, and on the other side of the coin, if you have the runs they can help restore lost electrolytes.
I should have listened to my mother. I have also been told by an old aunty that bananas are the only raw fruit that can be consumed that will not distress stomach ulcers, because they coat the lining of the stomach against corrosive acids.

A few old wives tales, for your reading pleasure please (and convenience): rub the inside of a banana peel on your leather shoes or handbag and polish with a dry cloth for a fast shine; or remove a wart by placing the inside of a piece of banana peel against it and taping it in place for a few days; also rub the inside of the banana peel onto mosquito and flea bites to relieve itching and irritation.
This wonderful fruit has more wonderful attributes than I’m sharing with you now and I’m going to use them in any way that I can, whether baked, cooked or raw in smoothies. I shall keep the skins and try out a few old housewives tales and let you know how they work.

Let’s cook!
Banana-Yoghurt Loaf
Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:
625ml (2 ½) cups cake flour
20ml Royal Baking Powder
80g butter or margarine
60g pecan nuts coarsely chopped(optional)
2 extra-large eggs beaten
250ml (1 cup) white sugar
250ml (1 cup) plain unflavoured yoghurt
3 large ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (1 cup)

Method:
Sift flour, Royal Baking Powder and salt together, rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs add the nuts if you are using them.
Beat the eggs and sugar together, add the yoghurt.
Add the liquid slowly to the dry ingredients. Fold the mashed bananas into the mixture and mix till combined.
Turn out into a greased 22cm loaf pan. Bake in a preheated oven 180deg C for about 50 minutes. Leave in the pan for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Variations:
If preferred, top loaf with granadilla icing.

Herb Scone Bread
Makes 1 bread

Ingredients:
500ml cake flour
15ml Royal Baking Powder
1ml bicarbonate of soda
3ml salt
15ml castor sugar
60ml chopped fresh mixed herbs or 20ml dried
50g butter or margarine, melted
125ml milk
1 beaten egg and 15ml milk for glazing

Method:
Sift flour, Royal Baking Powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together. Add castor sugar, herbs and melted butter. Add milk and mix lightly to a soft, sticky dough.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Press to a round shape, to a thickness of about 3cm and 18cm in diameter. Place onto a greased baking tray and mark into 8 wedges by cutting lightly into the dough. Brush with egg and milk. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 20 minutes.
TIP: Top this scone bread with lots of sliced ripe banana and a drizzle of runny Honey.

*Variation:
Add 125ml grated mature cheddar cheese or gouda cheese.

@Jennymorrischef