Mesquite Banana Bread

No, this is not barbecue flavored banana bread.  Mesquite powder (or “flour”) is what boosts this banana bread.

Mesquite powder is made of dried and ground pods from the mesquite plant.  It has a toasty, sweet flavor, yet it’s extremely low on the glycemic index.  Renowned for its nutrition density, mesquite is high in protein, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc.  Also, thanks to its high proportion of fiber, it actually reduces the glycemic load of whatever you’re adding it to (baked goods, smoothies, oatmeal, etc.), giving you sustained energy and fewer snack cravings.

This banana bread is loaded with flavor and nutrition.  Aside from the addition of mesquite, it’s gently sweetened with bananas and a hint of coconut sugar, and is made with whole wheat and almond flours for extra fiber and minerals.

Mesquite flour tends to have stubborn clumps, so make sure to sift it, or else you’ll end up with pasty clumps of mesquite flour in the finished product.

To make it pretty, top with banana slices or pecan halves before placing in the oven to bake:).

If you find you love mesquite as much as I do, I highly recommend you try Warm Pecan Mesquite Milk– perfect for cozy fall and winter nights, it’s essence of mesquite in a mug.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mesquite flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Scant 1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)

1/3 cup grass fed butter or 1/2 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup European style yogurt (preferably grass fed cream on top) or buttermilk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup pecan halves, broken into pieces

What you need:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper (alternatively, makes 2 mini loaves).

Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Beat butter and coconut sugar in a large bowl.  Add eggs, mashed banana, and yogurt.  

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing with a large spatula until just incorporated.  Fold in the pecans.  Bake for 40-50 minutes (30-35 minutes for mini loaves), or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pan 20 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Pecan Milk…with Warm Mesquite Variation (Latte di Noce Pecan…con Variazione Calda al Mesquite)

Pecan milk has changed my life in a small, yet significant way.

I essentially stumbled upon pecan milk this weekend when I was making a Marsala mushroom soup and, rather than using 3/4 cup of half-and-half that the recipe called for, I thought I’d “clean” it up a bit and try it with nut milk.  Pecans sounded like they’d combine well with mushrooms and Marsala, so I figured, “why not?”  Even better, the higher fat content in pecans would make the milk less prone to curdling- a problem I often face with fresh almond milk, even when tempered.

I was ecstatic with the results!  Not only was the milk delicious on its own, it paired excellently with the flavors in the soup and didn’t curdle.  I’m not sure why almond milk gets all the spotlight.  While almond milk is delicious (especially mine 😉 ) and definitely more versatile than, say, pistachio or peanut milk, pecan milk is also quite versatile, yet it’s creamier, deeper in flavor and, because of a higher fat content, is less likely to curdle than almond milk.

One Medjool date and a pinch of salt lend the milk just enough of that sweet/savory balance you get from cow’s milk and the nuttiness is mild and bourbon-like.  Not bad :).

Health Benefits: A one ounce serving of pecans contains 60% of the daily value of manganese, which is especially good for brain function, heart health and metabolism of carbohydrates and fat.  You will also get 15% of the daily value of copper from a one ounce serving of pecans, which benefits your nervous system, cellular energy output and connective tissue.*

Step aside almond milk!

Yields 2 cups

What you need:

1 cup raw pecan halves (plus water for soaking)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Medjool date

2 cups cold water

What to do:

Place pecans in a medium bowl and fill with water two inches to cover.  Let soak at room temperature for 8-10 hours.

Strain and rinse soaked pecans and place in a blender with the salt, date and 2 cups of water.  Blend on HIGH until smooth and there are no more large specks of pecan meat.  This should only take 30 seconds in a high speed blender (A.K.A. Vitamix, Blendtec, Ninja).  Allow 1-2 minutes for a normal blender.

Strain mixture through a nut milk bag or two layers of cheesecloth placed over a bowl or large measuring cup and squeeze to extract all of the liquid.  The consistency will be creamy and smooth.  Pour milk into desired storage cup and refrigerate.  Should last about four days in the refrigerator.

Mesquite variation:

You’ll also find that pecan and mesquite were meant to be together: for a cozy night cap or soothing breakfast, make this into a warm mesquite milk.  Place 2 1/2 teaspoons mesquite powder, 1 teaspoon raw honey and a pinch of salt in a small pot.  Slowly whisk in one cup of pecan milk and warm gently over a low flame, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes.  Do not boil.  Pour warmed milk into a mug and serve immediately.  Mmm.

Pecan Milk (Latte di Noce Pecan) - The Clean Gourmet

Latte di Noce Pecan:

Rende 500 ml

Cosa serve:

100 grammi di noce pecan dimezzate (più acqua per mettere a mollo)

1/4 cucchiaino di sale

1 dattero Medjool

500 ml d’acqua fresca

Come fare:

Mettete le noci pecan in una scodella e coprite d’acqua con circa tre dita da coprire.  Lasciate ammollare per circa 8-10 ore a temperatura ambiente.

Colate e sciacquate le noci e mettete in un mixer col sale, il dattero Medjool e l’acqua fresca.  Fate frullare al livello max finché non siano più pezzetti visibili di noce.  Dovrebbero bastare solo 30 secondi in un mixer potente (come Vitamix, Blendtec o Ninja).  Per un mixer normale, fate frullare per 1-2 minuti.

Passate il liquido per due strati di stamigna sopra una ciotola media e stringete bene per fare sì che sia estratto tutto il liquido.  Troverete una consistenza cremosa e liscia.  Versate il latte in un bicchiere da conservazione e mettete in frigo.  Consumatelo entro circa quattro giorni.

Versione al mesquite: 

Troverete che noce pecan e il mesquite vanno benissimo assieme:  per una merendina prima di letto o come una prima colazione leggera, fate un latte al mesquite caldo.  Mettete 2 1/2 cucchiaini di polvere di mesquite, 1 cucchiaino di miele crudo ed un pizzico di sale in un pentola piccola.  Gradualmente unite 250 ml di latte di noce pecan e riscaldate leggermente sul fuoco basso, frustando frequentemente, per circa 4 minuti.  Non fate bollire il latte.  Versate il latte caldo in una tazza, preferibilmente riscaldata, e servitelo subito.

*Sources:

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/walnuts-vs-pecans-nutrition-1576.html

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/pecans.html


Chili Tempeh with Rainbow Chard and Mesquite Mash (Tempe al Peperoncino con Bietole Colorate e Purea al Mesquite)

This recipe has a somewhat long list of ingredients, but is actually very simple to prepare.  You can prepare the spices for the marinade the night before and just mix the spices with the liquid and the tempeh in the morning.  The pumpkin seed sprinkle, however, I recommend preparing shortly before serving, so it’s nice and warm.

Mesquite flour is not really a flour, but a meal from the bean pods of the mesquite tree.  Mesquite is commonly used by Native Americans in the southwest part of North America and is very nutrient dense.  It is 25% fiber, 13% protein and is gluten free.  The taste is mildly smoky and somewhat sweet.  Don’t worry, it does not have the strong flavor associated with mesquite barbeque, whose flavor is derived from smoking the wood from the mesquite tree, rather than from ground bean pods.

I hope you like this vegan southwestern take on autumnal food :).

Chili Tempeh with Rainbow Chard and Mesquite Mash - The Clean Gourmet

Serves 4 

What you need:

For the Chili Tempeh:

1 8-oz package tempeh (I used 3-grain)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 T lime juice (from about 2 limes)

1 T apple cider vinegar

2 T grapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp sweet paprika

2 tsp smoked paprika (or chipotle chili powder)

2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

1-2 dashes cayenne pepper (depending on how fresh it is and how much spice you like)

For the Mesquite  Mash:

2 acorn squash, halved

5 oz cooked (about 2/3 cup) chestnuts (could also try pecans, soaked for 2-3 hours)

2 tsp mesquite flour

Cilantro, coarsely chopped, to serve

For the Rainbow Chard:

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch rainbow chard, roughly chopped, keeping stems separate

1/2 cup vegetable broth or water

salt and pepper, to taste

For the Pumpkin Seed Sprinkle:

2/3 cup RAW pumpkin seeds

1/2 tsp unrefined sea salt (Himalayan or Celtic are great)

What to do:

Prepare the marinade for the tempeh either in a shallow bowl or quart-size plastic bag.  Fillet the tempeh into two flat rectangles.  Cut each fillet into eight strips.  Toss with marinade and place in fridge for 3-8 hours.

For the mesquite mash, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place squash halves cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, until a fork can easily pierce the flesh.

While the squash is baking, prepare the pumpkin seed sprinkle.  Add raw pumpkin seeds and salt to a small foil-lined baking sheet or oven-proof pan and place on top rack of oven with the squash.  Cook for 5-8 minutes, checking for a light toast (I recommend using a timer, as they burn quickly).  Remove promptly once toasted and lift foil from the pan, to prevent them from burning.

Allow the seeds to cool for a few minutes, then add to food processor.  Pulse until coarsely ground.  Pour into a small bowl and set aside.  Simply wipe out the food processor, as you’ll need it for the mesquite mash.

Once the squash is cooked, remove from oven and flip halves cut side up to cool a bit.  Meanwhile, place the chestnuts in the food processor and pulse until you get a small crumble.  Add the mesquite flour and pulse once or twice.  Scoop squash flesh into food processor and pulse until mashed, but not completely smooth.  Pour into bowl, cover with foil and set aside.

For the rainbow chard, heat oil over medium heat in a medium pan and add garlic.  Sauté garlic for 1 minute, add chard stems and sauté another minute.  Add the rest of the chard, broth or water, salt and pepper.  Cover, turn heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the chard is cooking, turn oven to broil setting and place tempeh on a small baking sheet (do NOT use parchment paper, as it will burn under the broiler).  Place on highest rack and cook on each side for 5-7 minutes, until slightly crispy (I would use a timer for this as well).

Now you can serve!  Place a dollop of the mesquite mash on a plate, top with rainbow chard and then 2 or 3 strips of chili tempeh.  Garnish with pumpkin seed sprinkle and cilantro.

Tempe al Peperoncino con Bietole Colorate e Purea al Mesquite:

4 porzioni

Cosa Serve:

Per il Tempe al Peperoncino:

1 confezione di tempe (io ho usato quello ai cereali)

3 spicchi d’aglio, tritati

2 cucchiai di succo di lime (da circa 2 lime)

1 cucchiaio di aceto di mele

2 cucchiai d’olio di vinacciolo o d’oliva

1 cucchiaino di sale marino

1 cucchiaino di paprica dolce

2 cucchiaini di paprica affumicata

2 cucchiaini di peperoncino in polvere

1/2 cucchiaino di pepe nero

1-2 pizzichi di peperoncino di Caienna (o a piacere, specialmente se è poco fresco)

Per la Purea al Mesquite:

2 zucchine, dimezzate

150 gm di castagne cotte (oppure di noce pecan, impregnate per 2-3 ore)

2 cucchiaini di farina di mesquite

coriandolo fresco, tritato, per servire

Per le Bietole Colorate:

2 cucchiaini di olio d’oliva extra vergine

4 spicchi d’aglio, tritati

1 grappolo di bietole colorate, tagliate coi gambi da parte

100 ml di brodo di verdura o d’acqua

sale e pepe, a piacere

Per il Condimento di Semi di Zucca:

1 manciata generosa di semi di zucca crudi

1/2 cucchiaino di sale

Cosa Fare:

Preparate la marinata per il tempe dentro una scodella oppure una sacchetto a gelo.  Tagliate il tempe in due filetti piatti.  Tagliate ogni filetto in otto pezzi.  Unite il tempe con la marinata e lasciate in frigo per 3-8 ore.

Per la purea al mesquite preriscaldate il forno a 200 gradi.  Metteteci le zucchine coi lati tagliati in giù in un vassoio da forno coperto di carta da forno.   Lasciate cuocere per circa 40 minuti, finché una forchetta non lo perfora facilmente.

Mentre le zucchine si cuociono, preparate il condimento di semi di zucca.  Mettete i semi di zucca e il sale in un vassoio da forno piccolo, coperto di carta stagnola e mettetelo in forno con le zucchine, ma sul ripiano più alto.  Lasciate i semi in forno per 5-8 minuti, giusto per tostarli (consiglio usare il contaminuti, dato che si brucino facilmente).  Appena tostati, rimuoverli subito dal forno e sollevate la carta stagnola dal vassoio per prevenire la bruciatura.

Fate i semi raffreddare un pò, poi metteteli nel robot da cucina.  Pulsate giusto per fare una polvere granulare.  Versateli in una scodella piccola e mettere da parte.  Non lavare il robot, perché servirà per la purea al mesquite.

Appena cotte le zucchine, rimuoverli dal forno e rovesciateli per raffreddare un pò.  In tanto che si raffreddino, mettete le castagne nel robot da cucina e pulsate per fare una sbriciolata.  Unite la farina di mesquite e pulsate altre due volte.  Aggiungete la polpa della zucchina e pulsate finché non sia una poltiglia (attenzione che non diventi troppo liscia).  Versate in una ciotola, coprite con carta stagnola e mettete da parte.

Per le bietole, scaldate l’olio in una pentola media sul fuoco medio e aggiungete  l’aglio.   Fate cuocere l’aglio per circa un minuto, aggiungete i pezzi dei gambi e fate cuocere un altro minuto.  Unite gli altri ingredienti.  Coprite, abbassate il fuoco e fate cuocere per 10 minuti, agitando ogni tanto.

Mentre le bietole si cuociono, preriscaldate il forno alla temperatura massima e ponete il tempe su un vassoio da forno piccolo (non usate la carta da forno, perché potrebbe bruciare).  Mettete sul ripiano più alto e fate cuocere per 5-7 minuti per ogni lato.  Dovrebbero essere scuriti, appena prima di bruciati (consiglio di usare il contaminuti).

Ora puoi servire!  Su un piatto mettete un mucchietto di purea di mesquite, delle bietole e 2 o 3 strisce del tempe.  Guarnite col condimento dei semi di zucca e con del coriandolo.

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