I make my own breakfast cereal. It’s a sort of granola. Based on a recipe from the “More with Less” cookbook by Doris Longacre. The idea is to incorporate all sorts of good, wholesome things with a touch of luxury. The basis is whole rolled oats, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds with a light glaze of raw cane sugar syrup and a splash of olive oil. This is toasted in the oven and then raw chopped nuts and dried fruits are added. My sister has always called it “rabbit food” but she likes it all the same.
I was on the look-out in Holland & Barrrett, our local approximation to a health food store, for something new to add into the latest batch when I spotted a large bag of banana chips. Now I know you have to be wary of these things – they are fried in coconut oil and so pretty high in calories. Coconut oil does seem to be the latest reformed bad-boy on the health food scene. Despite being a saturated fat it is supposed to be OK due to the way the body processes the medium chain fatty acids which predominate in coconut oil. Anyway I decided that this would be the touch of luxury in my next few bakes of breakfast cereal.
I had a nibble of a few chips when I got home. Goodness they tasted good. Sweet, crispy and very banana-y. In fact so banana-y that I went back to the kitchen and looked a bit harder at the packet. No wonder. The ingredients list includes BANANA FLAVOUR. What? Yep. These health food bananas are somehow so lacking in, erm, banana taste that it is deemed necessary to add banana flavour to them so that we know that they taste of banana.
Now call me bonkers if you like. But surely if you take bananas and sweeten them (apparently with honey and sugar – but the cynic in me now suspects that this is so that it doesn’t look as though there are more added sugars than anything else) and fry them in coconut oil that would be bad enough. OK, I knew this was going to be a luxury item – just a few bits added to my recipe as a treat. But it seems that the resulting product is then so devoid of flavour that you have to add artificial banana flavour to make them taste of what they are in the first place. If you were running a health food shop is this this something you would want to stock? Does this make any sense to anyone other than a marketing wonk or the director of a large chain with a healthy salary bonus to support?