“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”-John Steinbeck

Guess which one of these items is a key ingredient in today's recipe?

Guess which one of these items is a key ingredient in today’s recipe?

I know that I use this phrase often.  I’ve been feeling really good regarding training and racing and at the start of this weekend, I was ready to string together a couple of key workouts.  Sadly; they were somewhat thwarted yesterday by the rock I hit at about an hour and a half into what was supposed to be a 4 hour ride.  Thankfully, I stayed on the bike and at worst I was just aggravated.  After close inspection of the tire, we deemed it “good” and proceeded to change the tube. Got back on the bike and it blew. Tried a third and had the same problem. At this point, I told Gina and Julie to continue (because good friends don’t let good friends only enemies wait around for long mechanicals). I radioed to the tower called Geoff, and he set out to pick me up an hour away.    My other bike is in pieces so riding that wasn’t an option.  I arrived home and was just done with trying to eek out a quality workout. Reworked the training to push the long(ish) ride to Sunday and long(ish) run to Monday…..no biggy, right?  I set out for a mental douche mind-clearing run in hopes to temper my mood, and then consoled myself with a baking project.  Today, I was all set to begin my rescheduled long ride and found my other tire flat. Checked the tire for debris then changed the tube and it blew.  Headed down to the bike shop for more tubes and possibly tires, where Johnny was a doll and showed me all of the crap I’d missed in the tires……staples, beer malt liquor bottle shards, etc.  Seems like cracking empty 40 ouncers onto major roadways is a real sport in the Escondido-Temecula corridor.   Okay, tire project complete.  I’m good to go; ready to start this damn ride at noon and then Johnny pipes up:

Had plenty of time to FB and return emails while waiting for my shuttle :)

Had plenty of time to FB and return emails while waiting for my shuttle 🙂

Johnny:  Hey Les, why isn’t your bike shifting?

Me:  Dunno…..?

Johnny:  Is your battery dead?

Me:  No, charged it before Oceanside.

Johnny:  Oh—let me check it out.  Yeah, um, your wires are severed HERE (points under bottom bracket)

Me:  WTF? Did the rock do that too?

Anyway, now Johnny is working some super magic on the wires, which involves a welding gun, electrical tape, a dash of McGyver, a bit of fairy dust and a sense of humor; and I’m debating whether to rent a road bike or tri bike for the week.  Since I have the older DI2 shifters, I knew that it would be a bitch to replace any parts unless Johnny’s soldering project a la Flashdance goes according to plan.

So I turned back to my other passion: cooking.  Lately, I’ve been humoring myself with All Things Kale (I really need to organize 30 day kale challenge).  Kale makes me is HOT HOT HOT and I’ve seen it in everything from veggie burgers to soda. That’s right, SODA.  Seems like a bit of a stretch to me.  Anyhoo, my first real culinary job was that of a baker/pastry chef and once I’m in the groove, I LOVE to bake.  The inspiration?   I had a passel of ripe bananas on the counter, more in the freezer and a bunch of kale in the frig……hmmmmmmm.  This was either going to be really good or it was going to really suck.  Vegan, Gluten Free Banana-Kale-Walnut-Chocolate-Hemp bread; here goes nothing.  Move over, zucchini, the kale is moving in.

Kale Margarita? Now that would be a stretch

Kale Margarita? Now that would be a stretch

Take aways and tips from my baking experiment

Accuracy Successful baking requires precision, but when incorporating kale into this recipe, I think that you can use a range and have written the recipe as such.  I erred on the generous side and used 4 plus cups of kale. I’m sure that you could also use spinach. Collards are probably a bit too salty.  With all other ingredients, accurate measuring is key, which is why I list the amount of banana in “cups of puree” as opposed to number of bananas.

Fat I used coconut oil, but remember that coconut oil has a distinctive flavor.  Using it will also result in a denser product as it remains rock solid in temperatures 75 degrees or below. If you want a softer product, try Earth Balance margarine or, for an even softer loaf; a neutral olive oil.

Gluten Free Flour I used Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour mix. It contains Brown Rice flour, which is definitely on the dry side.  I’ve seen a pretty good recipe for GF banana bread which called for Teff Flour—If you have access to Teff flour (available at any Whole Foods-type store) I would definitely try it out.

Chia Seeds The ratio of 1 Tbsp Chia Seed:3 Tbsp Water is the vegan equivalent of one egg.  Eggs serve as binders in conventional baking.  Without the addition of chia (or flax or a little bit of xanthan gum), this bread is quite crumbly

Aging the bread Most quick breads (breads made without yeast), especially those made with fruit or vegetable purees, benefit from sitting 24 hours before eating. The flavors become more intense and rich, and the texture becomes softer.  Think of fruitcake; it’s much better after a year or two, right? (okay, does anyone still eat that stuff 🙂 ?)

Not Vegan or Gluten-Free?  You could incorporate the kale into a standard banana bread recipe

Vegan Gluten-Free Banana-Walnut-Kale-Chocolate Chip Bread

Yield One 9” x 5” loaf or Three mini loaves

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups All Purpose Gluten Free Flour or Teff Flour
  • ½ Cup Almond Meal
  • 1.5 tsp Baking Soda
  • ¾ tsp Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ Cup plus 3 Tbsp Coconut Sugar
  • 1 and 2/3 Cups ripe Banana Puree (about 3-5 bananas depending on size)
  • 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
  • ½ Coconut Oil or Earth Balance Margarine
  • ½ -1 bunch Kale; destemmed and torn into small pieces (about 2-4 ¼  Cups_
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 Cup Vegan Chocolate Chips or Chopped Dark Chocolate

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees or 325 degrees at convection setting
  • Lightly coat one 9” x 5” pan or 3 mini loaf pans with coconut oil or equivalent (such as cooking spray)
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, almond meal, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt
  • In blender, puree bananas and measure 1 2/3 cups.  Adjust and leave banana puree in blender.   Add kale, vanilla, chia seeds and liquid coconut oil.  Process for a minute or two or until kale is pureed.  The friction of the blender will also heat up the coconut oil so that it becomes and/or remains liquid
  • Combine the banana mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined
  • Fold in walnuts and chocolate
  • Transfer to pan(s)
  • Bake for 1 hour if using large loaf pan; 40 minutes if using small pans
  • Test with wooden skewer to see if it comes out clean (minus the chocolate-which will be melted and gooey)
  • Let cool for ½ hour
  • Bread will taste better at least a day old
Green batter. Either I'm being transported to the land of Oz or a leprechaun dove right in

Green batter. Either I’m being transported to the land of Oz or a leprechaun dove right in

The bread; albeit a little strange, was good.  Geoff even liked it.  I made three mini loaves. One I made without chocolate; to another I added hemp seeds. Chocolate is definetly the way to go.

The final product:  use a serrated knife to cut it so that it doesn't crumble. These were flowers leftover from dinner party on thursday. Yes, I went with flowers

The final product: use a serrated knife to cut it so that it doesn’t crumble. These were flowers leftover from dinner party on thursday. Yes, I went with flowers

Johnny’s magic worked and the bike is back up and running.  I’m now going to head out for some semblance of a workout.  Abbreviated but better than nothing.

Happy Sunday!