Mom and Baby Journey Into Paleo
People embark on a Paleo lifestyle for many reasons but not surprisingly, their journey often begins as a quest to ameliorate allergies or intolerances caused by common standard American diet (SAD) foods. Not long ago, I received an email from a mom who was exclusively breastfeeding her 9 month old. Her baby had “terrible eczema” and had been diagnosed with allergies to dairy, wheat, soy, eggs, nuts, coconut, onions and garlic. Mom decided to give Paleo a try but found she was having trouble figuring out what to eat that would help alleviate her baby’s symptoms as well as satisfy her own increased appetite. In addition, she was ready to introduce solids to her baby but wasn’t sure which foods to start with and she herself had a craving for banana bread but couldn’t find a recipe that was free of eggs, nuts and coconut.
Baby’s First Foods
Mom’s decision to go Paleo was a good one. With dairy, wheat and soy inherently off the menu, I encouraged her to eat a wide variety of Paleo foods while being careful to avoid nuts, coconut, onions and garlic for the reminder of nursing. As for baby’s first foods, by 9 months pureed meats including organ meats, mashed salmon, avocado, banana, sweet potato and egg yolks* are among foods that are well tolerated. (*Most egg allergies are a response to lysozyme, a protein found in egg whites, not egg yolks. I advised mom to ask her pediatrician if baby would be safe eating just the yolks, which are loaded with nutrition.) I reminded mom that first foods should be introduced slowly – perhaps one new food every four days with a watchful eye for reactions.
Paleo Baking Requires Creativity
Try as I might, I couldn’t find a Paleo banana bread that fit mom’s dietary limitations. Every recipe I looked at contained some combination of coconut flour, almond flour or eggs. I gave mom a few suggestions for substitutions such as sunflower seed butter for nut butter and bananas or applesauce for eggs and I encouraged her to experiment and be creative. Then I decided to do a bit of paleo inventing myself! It wasn’t easy and I never did create a decent loaf (I kept creating loaves with perfect sides and sunken middles) but I did bake up some very tasty egg-free, coconut-free, nut-free banana muffins. The experience provided poinant reminder that for many people, Paleo isn’t a straightforward endeavor and finding foods to eat that are both pleasing and satisfying and yet fall within the boundaries of personal nutritional limitations can be daunting but not impossible.
It took several trips to the store and quite a few attempts (my husband loved every failed batch and kept taking my sunken loaves and messed up muffins to work to snack on and share with his co-workers) but I think I came up with a tasty product. I’m sharing it because I bet a lot of you have similar allergies and you might like to eat “banana bread” once in a while!
Egg-free, Coconut-free, Nut-free Banana Muffins
Bake Time: 35 – 40 minutes
Makes 9 muffins
- 3 medium bananas or 1½ cup mashed banana
- ½ cup sunflower seed butter
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 TBS vanilla
- ½ cup arrowroot powder
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place paper liners in 9 muffin cups or coat muffin cups with a fat of your choice.
- Add bananas, sunflower seed butter, maple syrup and vanilla to a blender and mix until ingredients are just combined.
- In a medium bowl, stir arrowroot powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt together and add to the wet ingredients in the blender.
- Blend everything together until smooth and pour into prepared muffin cups.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until the tops are slightly brown* and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
- Allow to cool slightly before serving.
*Muffin tops will continue to brown until they get dark and glossy during cooling.
Do you have an egg-free, coconut-free, nut-free banana bread recipe? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!