Anytime I see a product or ingredient touted as having the power to improve sleep, I’m on it quicker than you can say “goodnight.” I’m featuring a few ingredients in this recipe that do just that. I’ve subtitled this recipe “sleepy-time cake” even though it can be useful for those dealing with anxiety. There is sweetener in this recipe but it has a lower GI (glycemic index) than many (I’ll get to it in a moment). So if staying away from all sugar sources is your mandate, steer clear of this treat. However, if you’re allowing yourself a bit and also want to enjoy a delicious night-time snack, then this is for you. Onward and upward…let’s get going with the Green Banana Coconut Cake.
Ever since I discovered that resistant starches are beneficial to those who have difficulty sleeping, I’ve been a ravenous researcher hunting down information, citations and sources of this seemingly magical substance (there are worse obsessions). Funny, but that substance has been in my kitchen for quite some time. I’m not sure what prompted me to buy green banana flour (maybe I was looking for grain-free flour) but amazon.ca snatched my money yet again and this phenomenal nutritional product has been sitting in my cupboard…waiting. Waiting until the day I discovered one of its remarkable properties–resistant starch. Anyway, it turns out green banana flour as well as cooled boiled potatoes and cooled white rice have an abundance of it.
First, what is resistant starch? When I first heard the term starch, I have to admit my back tightened and my eyebrows furrowed. “I’m sure they’ve got that wrong,” I said to myself. But what I found out was RS (resistant starch) is actually like fiber in that it passes through the system intact. When it reaches the colon, however, it acts more like a prebiotic feeding the good bacteria and making butyric acid, instead of being excreted like fiber. Butyric acid is very good for brain and gut health.(1,2) It even protects the colon against cancer. According to a 2013 study, resistant starch was shown to reduce precancerous cells in the bowel and gut.(3)
Resistant starch assists in getting better sleep too! Besides helping to balance the blood sugar, resistant starch or prebiotics were shown to help rats have better non-REM sleep (resorative sleep) than those who did not ingest it in a 2017 study.(4) It also helps to buffer the effects of stress as shown in the same study.
The next ingredient I’m showcasing in this recipe, in what I refer to as my sleepy time cake, is coconut syrup.
I’m always trying to refine my muffins or loaves to be the healthiest they can be. If I must use a sweetener, then what will not raise the blood sugar quickly. In other words, what sweetener has a low glycemic index without being synthetic or harmful. We are talking sweeteners here, so obviously they will not be adored by the body as much as healthy proteins, fats and fiber but there are a few that don’t wage that much war on insulin receptors. And one of those sweet delights comes directly from nature in the form of coconut tree sap. This nutrient-abundant sap exudes from the blossoms before they mature into coconuts. Known by other names such as coconut syrup or coconut palm sugar, this sweetener has a glycemic index of 35 which is similar to an apple. It is about half the glycemic index of table sugar which comes in at 70.
Coconut sugar has plenty of other benefits other than a lower GI (glycemic index). It contains 17 amino acids (that’s protein building blocks to the lay person). It’s also very rich in minerals with 10x the zinc and 4x the amount of magnesium as what is contained in brown sugar. Coconut syrup is also very high in potassium. (5)
Another ingredient to take its place of honor today is almond flour. Earlier I spoke of the research backing up RS’s benefits in those having difficulty sleeping and almond flour is another food with nutritive properties that set the stage for a sounder sleep by keeping the blood sugar balanced. If your blood sugar drops during the night, you may jolt awake as your adrenal glands secrete cortisol keeping you alert. Almonds, full of healthy fat and fiber help to keep the blood sugar stable but they also contain tryptophan which converts to serotonin, the feel good chemical, and eventually melatonin, the sleepy time chemical.
By putting the cake in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight, you amplify the beneficial resistant starch available.(6, 7) Make this delicious cake every so often and snack on it a few hours after eating your final meal for the evening. All the highly nutritious components working synergistically will help to balance your blood sugar and hormones resulting in deeper sleep. The Green Banana Coconut Cake was adapted from the Banana Loaf recipe in Good Morning Paleo, by Jane Barthelemy.(8)
Green Banana and Coconut Cake
Green banana flour is a unique grain-free option with the added benefit of having superbly nutritional resistant starch that helps to keep you satisfied for a long time. It also balances blood sugar levels.
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup green banana flour
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 T allspice
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 75 grams coconut butter (not oil)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 T vanilla
- 1 green banana
- 1/2 T apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
- 1/2 cup coconut sap (syrup)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 T chia seeds
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 350
- Step 2 Grease a 9 by 9 pan with coconut oil
- Step 3 In a food processor add almond flour, green banana flour, sea salt, baking soda and spices. Pulse a few times
- Step 4 Then add coconut butter and blend well
- Step 5 Then add eggs, vanilla, the green banana, apple cider vinegar, sunflower seed butter and coconut syrup. Blend again very well
- Step 6 Finally add the coconut and chia seeds and pulse a few times
- Step 7 Pour into baking pan and place in the oven for 25 minutes
- Step 8 Let cool.
- Step 9 Serve with love and enjoy!
- Food and Nutrition Research Institute. Dept. of Science and Technology. Nutritional and Health Benefits of Coconut Sap Sugar/ Syrup. Access:
- Barthelemy, Jane. Good Morning Paleo: More than 150 Easy Favorites to Start Your Day, Gluten- and Grain-free. Boston, MA: Da Capo Lifelong, a Member of the Perseus Books Group, 2014.