No Sugar Added Banana Muffins


I really like banana bread. Like seriously, once I start I can most probably finish the whole loaf. But most banana loaf recipes (including my dear mom’s traditional recipe) have LOTS of sugar in. I have seen so many recipes that advertise as “sugar-free” only to include honey or coconut sugar, never mind the fact that it includes bananas which also have sugar of course. So this is NOT a sugar-free recipe as bananas have a relatively high sugar content, but there is no added sugar.

I try to avoid any added sugars where I can, including when drinking tea and coffee. As a food scientist, I know about all the hidden sugars that are in products we use every day.  And although I am no hater of processed foods (there are many products that make our lives easier), I try to reduce sugar and salt where it is under my control.

I was thinking of creating my own recipe, but then I stumbled upon this amazing recipe by Heather Disarro. It is one of those things where you feel like “man, why didn’t I think of that!”.

Her secret is the roasting of the bananas to increase the natural sweetness and get some caramelization going.

Bananas ready for roasting!
Once roasted, the bananas become sweet and syrupy.
The batter for this recipe is quite thick and dense, so don’t worry!


Preheat oven to 200°C. Slice 6 medium bananas in half and place them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Roast for 15-10 min until they start to caramelize (you will see the sugar syrup starts to ooze out of the bananas). Once they are cooled, mash them (together with the sugary syrup) and proceed.

Reduce oven heat to 165°C. Grease a 12-hole muffin pan and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together 60 mL vegetable oil, mashed banana mixture, 2 eggs, ¾ t vanilla essence. Sift in 2 cups cake wheat flour, ¾ t baking soda (NOT baking powder), ½ t salt. Stir to combine.

Pour batter into muffin pan, bake at 165°C for about 40 min or until a cake skewer comes out clean.
These muffins seem to improve with time. They are amazing the day after they are baked!


For variety, you can add choc chips, nuts or even a pinch of cinnamon.
Let me know if you make this recipe and what you think!


Weekend at the Cederberg Mountains

Last year in December, Lucy Corne ran a competition on Twitter (#12DaysofBeermas) in which she gave away a beer-related prize every day. I was not planning on entering any of the competitions (there are so many big beer fans who I thought will appreciate it more), but when I saw that there was a Cederberg weekend up for grabs, I just had to enter. And I won!


Hubby and I planned to cash in our prize in the new year and in January (right in the middle of the heat wave) we packed our bags, looking forward to a weekend of peace and quiet…and no cell reception!

There is about a 60km gravel road to get to Kromrivier Holiday Farm and it is not long before your phone may give a last Whatsapp message notification before losing signal. Pure bliss!


The welcoming party…

We were booked into the Suikerberg  luxury cottage which have two rooms, each with its own bathroom and private space. Although it was just me and hubby, I do think that two couples can share the cottage and they would still have enough privacy. In the late afternoon, you can scale the giant boulder behind the cottage, for magnificent views. There is also an indoor braai which made the living space even more cosy.

IMG_1176IMG_1181 (2)IMG_1183

Of course after a long drive you need something to cool off and a swim in the river was just what we needed to break the heat. We took our bicycles with and it was quite fun exploring the farm. There are several mountain biking trails for bike enthusiasts but due to the heat wave we experienced, I opted for a rather casual ride to and from the river.

Early Saturday morning we decided to visit the nearby Matjiesrivier Nature Reserve to go and see the rock art on the Truitjieskraal route. In the Greater Cederberg area, there are more than 2500 sites of rock art, with those at the Truitjieskraal route dating back 5000 years ago. By the way, being Afrikaans, I thought that “Truijties” referred to a jersey, but it is actually an abbreviation for a lady’s name Gertruida who was believed to be a shepherd’s wife or girlfriend. Truijieskraal was thus thought to be an overnight stop that was named after her. Aaaawwww sweet!

We also had a taste of the Nieuw Brew collection. The Nieuwoudt family started the first brewery and actually use the water flowing from the Cederberg Mountains. Although I am not a avid beer drinker, I did gain a appreciation for the art of beer making after my final year studying Food Science. We had to develop a new product and we brewed a new type of beer. It is there that I realised how much science goes behind it! Melanie Nieuwoudt (who is part of the family operated micro-brewery) completed her PhD in Food Science in the same department where I did my BSc, so I was rather excited to give it a taste!

We were not even home yet and already we were planning a second trip!



To book accomodation:

For more info on Matjiesrivier Reserve and Truitjieskraal:

All about the beer: