kitchen myths & fads: to be or not to be gluten-free plus a nutty chocolate chunk banana bread recipe

Gluten-Free Banana Nut Bread Recipe with and without Gluten

At the beginning of every New Year, after indulging during the holiday season, many people are ready to turn over a new leaf. New Year’s resolutions vary, but one of the most popular is the resolve to lose weight. Evidence of just how popular this resolution is can be found on the covers of magazines that hold within their covers the secrets to losing weight, cooking segments on morning TV shows that demonstrate lighter versions of everyday meals and on the shelves of our local markets where Slim-Fast cans and diet aids replace baking products and holiday candy.

I can’t help thinking that people are becoming too paranoid with their never ending need to stay thin and lose weight. And, with each New Year there seems to be a fad diet lurking around the corner. Some of these diets have scientific validation, while others are just plain silly. Fad diets are not a modern phenomena and I’m sure they predate 1820, but in that year a popular diet was the vinegar and water diet. During the Roaring Twenties you might try the cigarette diet (1925). In 1950 cabbage sales probably rose as many would participate in the cabbage soup diet. I’m not sure I want a single detail about the tape worm diet of 1954. Of course, most of us can probably remember the Beverly Hills Diet in 1981, Scarsdale Diet in 1987, Atkins’ high protein, low carbohydrate diet in 1994, Raw Food Diet in 2000, South Beach Diet in 2003, and the Gluten-Free diet that has quickly gained popularity.

What is gluten and why do so many people want to be free of it? Gluten is a complex mixture of certain wheat proteins. They are not water soluble, but form connections with water molecules and each other. Gluten contains some of the largest protein molecules found in nature. Gluten is mainly composed of large protein molecules, which are long, chain-like molecules that are built up from smaller molecules called amino acids. It is the bonding and breaking of bonds that create the elasticity or relaxation of wheat flour dough. Wheat gluten food has high protein and low fat content. Gluten is rich in iron, contains other nutrients such as calcium, and it is low in carbohydrates, cholesterol and fats.

Having said that, what does it have to do with dieting and why do people want to be “gluten-free”. Eating gluten free was primarily a decision made for health issues. Gluten-free diets were primarily designed for people diagnosed with celiac disease, which is a chronic digestive disorder. Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.

Gluten-free diets used for weight loss purposes have started to become popular because of the Atkins Diet fad. The Atkins diet is very low in carbohydrates, which are found in foods such as bread, crackers, pasta, cereal, and baked goods. It is wonderful that gluten-free products have become more accessible to those who suffer from celiac disease or suffer from intolerance or allergies, but these products are not necessarily low calorie. Dieters cannot eat a massive amount of cookies and expect to lose weight because they are gluten-free. This was true during the fat-free craze.

How does a fad diet start? In the case of the gluten-free diet it is clear that it is riding the coat tails of the Atkins diet. And, when celebrities such as Rachel Weisz, Victoria Beckham, Elisabeth Hasselbeck , Zooey Deschanel, and even Gwyneth Paltrow go on gluten-free cleansing diets they set the example and start a trend. They look great, they say they feel great and therefore it must work. (I’m not saying that any of these stars do indeed use the services of trainers and personal chefs, but they can afford to and wouldn’t that make life easier? The diet may help, but they have a lot of other aides.)

I hate to say it, but a gluten-free diet is not the magical diet that many think it is in spite of all the pre-packaged products in the aisles of grocery stores. Going on a gluten-free diet for a few days may do no harm and may even give your diet a jump-start if it helps you limit calories. But it’s not a long-term weight-loss strategy. A gluten-free diet greatly limits the number of foods you can eat, not to mention the nutrients you need like fiber, Vitamin B and iron. Gluten-free foods can contain more calories, sugar and fat to substitute for the taste and binding nature of gluten.

So, while those with medical conditions may need to eat gluten –free, it is our humble opinion that using a gluten-free diet as a long term weight loss solution is a mistake. Let’s just be clear where I stand on the weight loss issue: Would I love a miracle diet or pill? Absolutely! Do fad diets work for long term goals? No. Dieting is no more complicated than this: Move your body! Exercise and consume fewer calories. Eat a balanced diet to include the correct proportion of fats and carbohydrates.

Our body needs to be balanced, eating smaller portions and the proper balance of food groups while participating in a consistent exercise routine is the only safe, logical and long-term solution. Losing weight isn’t about fad diets and short term goals. Losing weight is about changing a lifestyle. You’ve heard it before and it isn’t the quick fix, easy answer, but it is the truthful answer.

Gluten-Free Recipe Below.

Nutty Chocolate Banana Banana Bread
Adapted from : Shelley Albeluhn

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas
1 Cup of mixed nuts
1 Cup of chocolate nibs ( we take our favorite bar of chocolate white or dark)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread Recipe
Recipe by: Taste of Home
Ingredients

2 cups gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (4-5 medium)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, bananas, sugar, applesauce, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with walnuts. Bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10


Our Guest Photographer Today is: Isabel Poulin
Photography Tips: Use an ISO setting of 100 to a get dark and sultry outcome.

ApertureFNumber: f/4.0
Make: Canon
Model: Canon EOS 30D
ExposureTime: 1/50
FNumber: 4/1
ExposureProgram: 1
ISOSpeedRatings: 100
MeteringMode: 5
Flash: 16
FocalLength: 50/1

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9 comments

  • January 13, 2012 at 7:35 am //

    I still don’t understand gluten free food but this cake looks just so amazing. I love banana bread and i might just bake this cake this weekend :)

    • January 13, 2012 at 7:41 am //

      It was one of our favorites growing up, that and Zucchini bread, which always tasted a bit sweet to have veggies in it, it was surely a delicious bread (dessert)

  • January 13, 2012 at 8:16 am //

    Great recipe for a gluten free diet

  • January 13, 2012 at 8:20 am //

    That really is an amazing looking banana bread. Gluten free or not. What is the gluten free all purpose flour made from? Thanks

    • January 13, 2012 at 8:26 am //

      Hi Suzi! Thank you for commenting, we don’t follow gluten-free on purpose “wink”, but the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free all purpose flower sold on amazon has: http://www.amazon.com/Bobs-Red-Mill-Gluten-Purpose/dp/B00141D7XG

      Garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, whole grain sweet white sorghum flour, fava bean flour

  • January 13, 2012 at 10:37 am //

    I’ve never know anyone that did gluten free to lose weight even though I know a lot of gluten free/Paleo/Primal eaters. Gluten can affect many health issues, cutting gluten out of my diet cured my high blood pressure and got me off meds after 9 years of taking them. I have a friend with MS that has stopped her flares after going gluten free. It’s also something that helps with migraines, a lot. There are many reasons to try it, weight loss is not one I would actually recommend. /off soapbox

    On another note, this cake looks amazing! ;)

    • January 17, 2012 at 11:27 am //

      Thank you for reading our blog. We enjoy hearing from our readers. While you may not know anyone who has tried to eat gluten free to lose weight, there are dieters who have and many more who will as is the nature of fad diets. We do not agree with fad diets.

      We are not condoning a gluten free diet for weight loss purposes, we are actually against the practice. We feel a healthy lifestyle that includes eating healthfully and regular exercise is the best weight loss plan.

      We please ask you to review our posts carefully, you see, our article was very specific. Should gluten free diets be used as a weight loss tool? If you were simply trying to argue for eating gluten free to avoid health issues we understand your concern. Eating gluten free is not for everyone.

      We applaud your weight loss and the healthy life you now lead. Obesity is at the root of many health issues, such as high blood pressure, headaches and diabetes to name a few. When people are active and eat well, not necessarily gluten free, and enjoy desserts, etc in moderation, they are less likely to suffer from these problems, most importantly is trying to get some exercise in on a daily basis, any form of exercise.

      Thank you again for commenting, and we hope you like the Gluten-Free Recipe, please let us know if you were able to try it.

  • January 13, 2012 at 11:48 am //

    Great post – very informative. I’ve never worried about gluten, but have friends that have celeriac disease. I don’t know why you’d necessarily think of it as a weight loss technique, but then that can be said more many diet trends. Thanks for putting this together!

  • August 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm //

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