Caribbean-Style Banana Bread w/ Sweet Orange Blossom Cashew Cream

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I’ve been wanting to make this Banana Bread recipe for a few weeks, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to top it with.  I knew I wanted something creamy but what flavor….?  That was the question.  Time was ticking as my bananas were at their ripest and I didn’t want to start over with a new batch of bananas to ripen.  As you can tell, I was very determined to get the perfect topping for it.  And then it happened…that aha! moment. I was looking through a couple of cookbooks searching for a dinner recipe, when I came across Bryant Terry’s Afro-Vegan Cookbook.  Let me just say, this book is amazing.  It a cookbook bursting with African and Caribbean flavors that are vibrant, colorful…a celebration if you will of plant-based foods with a taste of tradition.  I came across Bryant’s Sweet Orange Blossom Cream and I got my a ha! moment.  It was serendipity. 

Let me just say that I love banana bread.  It is a quick and simple classic quick bread, however I wanted to zhuzh it up a bit.  Give it life.  And life I did give it.  The orange blossom cream was heavenly on top of it.  I made a few changes.  Instead of silken tofu, I used soaked cashews, thereby making a cashew cream.  I opted out of using bourbon (the original recipe) as I wanted it to be more for breakfast or a snack.  However, if you feel the need to add the bourbon (Bryant uses 1 Tablespoon), go for it.  I also used maple syrup instead of agave, but feel free to use your favorite sweetener.  The absolute best part about this recipe is the Orange Blossom Water or Orange Flower Water.  It is a clear and perfumed essence made by the distillation of fresh bitter orange blossoms.  Get a bottle and take a whiff.  You’ll want to put it in your food, put it in your favorite drinks, spray your sheets, etc.  You can find Orange Flower Water at Middle Eastern markets or buy it here.  It is used in a lot of desserts such as baklava and Mexican Wedding cakes. 



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Caribbean Style Banana Bread w/ Sweet Orange Blossom Cashew Cream//makes 1 loaf
Adapted from B. Smith's Entertaining and Cooking for Friends

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
½ cup vegan butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cup mashed ripe banana
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Sweet Orange Blossom Cream//1 cup
Adapted from Afro-Vegan

1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours, drained, and rinsed
¼ cup agave or maple syrup
¼ cup non-dairy milk or water (I used almond milk)
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed navel orange juice
Finely grated zest of 1 navel orange
1 teaspoon orange blossom water

To prepare the frosting, place the cashews, syrup, non-dairy milk or water, salt, and extract in a high-speed blender or food processor. Blend or process until the mixture is mostly smooth; in a high-speed blender, this will be about 2 minutes once you get to high speed, and in a food processor it should take about 4 minutes, with a few breaks to scrape the bowl down. Then, with the machine running, drizzle in the coconut oil. Continue blending till the frosting is smooth and emulsified. Transfer it to an airtight container to chill for at least 2 hours. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

For the banana bread, preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice.  In another large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Then fold in the flour mixture, alternating with mashed banana, yogurt, and vanilla.  Stir in the nuts.  Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool.  

Broccoli & White Bean Soup w/ Cashew Cream

Springtime is almost here!  So, to get a head start on it's impending arrival, I made this Broccoli & White Bean Soup w/ Cashew Cream courtesy of Donna Hay's Fresh + Light magazine.  I'm always looking for new soups to make especially soups that are heavily vegetable based with lots of protein. First off, I love broccoli and my little ones do too. In our home, we consume it at least 3-4 times in a week as it is quick to chop and quick to steam.  Second, the white beans and the cashew cream give it that protein kick I need to fuel me when I'm on the go.

This recipe is super easy and quick to make.  To start, you need broccoli florets, leeks, chicken stock (vegetable stock to make it vegan) and white beans. Cook just until the broccoli is tender and turns a bright green color. You want to maintain those nutrients.  Blend, drizzle cashew cream, chives and Voila!  Youve got yourself a super healthy filling lunch.  Oh, and don't forget some good Whole grain crusty bread.  Enjoy!


Adapted from Donna Hay’s Fresh + Light magazine, Issue 5

1-tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
4 cups broccoli, finely chopped
2 cups canned white (cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups hot vegetable stock
3 cups hot water
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
¼ cup chopped chives
¼ cup toasted cashews, roughly chopped

cashew cream
1-cup cashews
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup water
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Soak the cashews in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let sit for 15-20 minutes.
While the cashews are soaking, heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the garlic, leek and broccoli.  Cook and vegetables are slightly softened.  About 5 minutes.  Add the beans, stock, water, salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid and bring to a boil.  Cook for 15 minutes until the broccoli is tender.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Once cooled, place the broccoli and white bean mixture in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Place soup in bowls

Drain cashews and place in a blender along with the garlic, lemon juice, and water.  Blend until smooth.

To assemble, top with cashew cream, toasted cashews, chopped chives, and cracked black pepper.  Serve with crusty bread.