This fantastic article was written by Sarah Biren, a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. We encourage you to check out her website here!
We all have the desire for some comfort food now and then, but often make the mistake of indulging in the wrong dish. It has been scientifically proven people crave high sugar and fat foods because it lights up the emotional section of the brain, resulting in a better mood. However, overeating the wrong foods like chowing down a tub of sugary ice cream or a whole bag of potato chips can leave us feeling guilty and depressed. Eating badly affects our bodies and therefore affects how we feel. We tend to crave high caloric indulgences with a lot of sugar and salt, and the addictiveness of these foods cause overeating to the point of discomfort. (5)
There’s no good feeling after that!
There’s another important factor to realize when it comes to comfort foods: the psychological element. We tend to crave foods from our childhood, foods that remind us of being loved. Some find the chicken soup or grilled cheese to be comforting; for others, it can be chocolate chip cookies or birthday cupcakes.
Chocolate is a given when it comes to comfort foods. It has been proven to release endorphins in the brain and brighten a person’s mood, and besides, it tastes divine! Banana bread is also a perfect comfort food with the delicious flavor, dense cake texture, and the warm remembrances of home. Putting these two together creates a quintessential comfort food, ideal for the final stages of this never-ending winter.
The trick with comfort foods is to eliminate the addictive, unhealthy ingredients to prevent the sugar crashes, stomachaches, food comas, and regret we feel afterward.
The Ultimate Comfort Food: Chocolate Banana Cake
In most baked goods you will find the same toxic combo: white flour and refined sugar.
The wheat flour we consume today is very different than the kind our grandparents and great-grandparents ate. The crops are now being sprayed with glyphosate, herbicide, to kill weeds. To stop the food from dying as well, researchers genetically modified crops like soy, corn, and wheat to withstand the toxins. However, the crops are not shielded from the contamination; the poison just doesn’t kill them. Then they harvest the wheat soaked with these toxins and shelf them for us to buy and eat. Glyphosate destroys the villi in the gut which diminishes our ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, and makes the wheat almost completely indigestible, resulting in a rise of celiac disease, gut inflammation, and leaky gut syndrome. (1)
Where to begin about sugar? There are no redeeming factors for this refined product. Here are few of its negative effects:
It’s addictive and intoxicating, comparably to alcohol
Interferes with mineral absorption
Leads to Depression and decrees in emotional stability
Feeds cancer cells
Creates gastrointestinal tract issues
Induces headaches and migraines
Can causes cataracts and nearsightedness
May lead to autoimmune diseases, like asthma, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis
Suppresses immune system
Causes hormonal imbalances
Increases free radicals and oxidative stress (3)
This list goes on and on.
In this banana cake recipe, those ingredients are replaced with gluten-free oat flour and natural honey.
Oat flour is a great substitute for wheat since, in its natural form, oats are naturally gluten-free and are acceptable for those with gluten allergy, intolerance, or even celiac. In addition, it’s loaded with health benefits, such as:
Reduces heart disease risk due to its high fiber content
Helps diabetes by improving blood sugar control and lipid profiles
Decreases blood pressure
Contains high levels of magnesium, manganese, iron, and protein (2)
It’s also easy to make! Simply process gluten-free steel cut oats in a blender or food processor until it’s as fine as flour.
Honey is a healthy option for sugar replacement. Not only is a sweet addition to teas and baking, studies have correlated honey consumption with weight loss by suppressing the appetite and lowering blood sugar. It is also a powerhouse of antioxidants, blocking free radicals from the body and boosting the immune system.
However, be cautious about which type of honey you choose. Commercial brands are heavily processed; excessively heated, which destroys much of the natural enzymes, vitamins, and mineral; may be chemically refined and contains additives. Opt for raw honey with is free from excess processing and additives, and use it in baking for pure healthy results! (4)
Healthy Chocolate Banana Cake Recipe
3 bananas (about 1 1/2 cup)
2 cups gluten-free oat flour
1/4 cacao powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup 72% dark chocolate chunks
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
Mash the banana until smooth and add the rest of the ingredients (except the chocolate chunks.)
Mix in the dry ingredients until well incorporated.
Pour into two greased 9 inch round cake pans and bake for about 25-20 minutes.
This banana cake recipe is very versatile. Feel free to switch the pans and adjust the baking time, or swap the ingredients according to preference. I suggest you try the original Healthy Chocolate Banana Cake first, but this is your comfort food so it’s up to you.
Here are two modifications:
Carob Almond Banana Bread
carob powder instead of cacao
almond butter instead of peanut butter
chopped almonds instead of the chocolate chunks
Bake in a loaf pan at 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes
Banana Coconut Bundt Cake
4 eggs instead of 3
coconut flour instead of cacao powder
1/2 cup coconut milk instead of 1/4
1/2 cup of chocolate chunks and 1/2 cup of coconut shavings instead of 1 cup of chocolate chunks
Bake in a Bundt pan at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.
This cake will keep very well for several days but will last longer stored in the fridge. Freezes well.
Dr. Mercola. Gluten-Free Diets Are Beneficial for Many — Not Just Those With Celiac Disease. Published: September 21, 2016. Accessed: March 17, 2017
Dr. Axe. Oat Flour: The Gluten-Free Flour that Promotes a Healthy Heart. Accessed: March 17, 2017.
Dr. Mercola. The Truth About Sugar Addiction. Accessed: March 17, 2017.
Dr. Axe. The Many Health Benefits of Raw Honey. Accessed: March 17, 2017.
Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. 5 Reasons Why We Crave Comfort Foods. Published: September 28, 2016. Accessed: March 17, 2017.