Banana bread with aquafaba (do it)

This was my first attempt at using aquafaba, a byproduct of cooking chickpeas, as an egg substitute. 

Aquafaba is simply chickpea cooking water. Why use three words, when one will do, someone must have said to themselves. The stuff is basically free if you’re already making chickpeas. You could use the liquid from the canned variety, but since I’m in the habit of periodically batch cooking legumes in the slow cooker, the latter is how I came by mine.

Chickpea cooking water has the gelatinous texture of an egg white, but wouldn’t have the fat content of the yolk. This can make a difference in baking, which is not always as forgiving as straight up cooking, or assembling, or whatever you want to call making bliss balls. Proportions of wet to dry, leavener to flours, even hot to cold can make or break a recipe. So why replace eggs? I asked myself, and my sister did too. I’m not vegan and I love eggs.

Partly curiosity. I love finding ways to reframe and make use of waste materials. I’m also on board with reduce-atarian diets. Other times I just run out of eggs. It’s good to have options, and to be able to cater to a variety of diets.

I attempt to make banana bread with aquafaba as an egg substitute

I’d been planning to make banana bread anyway. Serendipitously, in the same week my bananas turned black and saggy (good), I also made a large batch of chickpeas, and I also had no hen’s eggs. Perfect time for some foodsperimentation, right?

aquafaba banana bread
Not pictured, my crossed fingers.

I riffed on this recipe, skipped the almond meal ’cause I didn’t have any, used a mixture of whole wheat, buckwheat and all purpose flours instead of gluten free (no) and used 3 TBSPs of aquafaba instead of the egg. I also didn’t melt the coconut oil, because that would be another dish and not exactly keeping it to one bowl there Dana…This is me, begging to fail.

All the ingredients went into my well loved Gumtree sourced food processor. Blitzed and poured into a metal baking pan, which in hindsight I would have greased. Baked at 160 ish celsius for 45 minutes. Done.

The verdict

I was not expecting this to work, but was prepared to eat my failure anyway. I faced no such punishment and was pleasantly surprised to pull a lovely, lightly browned loaf out of the oven.

The end result was moist. Fluffy even.The oats in the recipe added some nice muffiny texture. Sorry if that’s not apparent from my terrible food photography, but I assure you, one could feed this to anyone without apologizing first, or revealing the secret ingredient. It would taste amazing with some fresh local berries tossed into the batter.

It didn’t involve any sort of special equipment or preparation and was made with something I used to toss away. Verdict: Aquafabulous.

Next up with this so far magic ingredient, I’m looking forward to testing an eggless mayonnaise recipe, and maybe a fritter or two. The rest of the chickpea water – there was a lot from the one batch – will go to the freezer in egg sized portions for future use.

Sorry, but takeway coffee cups aren’t recyclable.

coffee cup

#Sorrynotsorry if I shattered your illusions, takeaway coffee cups ain’t recyclable. Let’s dive deeper?

“But takeaway coffee cups are made of paper aren’t they?”

Yes, but the paper is lined with plastic or wax. Fusing two materials together requires unfusing to sort materials for their respective circular resource streams.  This is beyond the capabilities of the vast majority of recycling programs in Australia.

“The cafe I go to uses compostable coffee cups.”

Okay cool, they’re clearly trying to do the right thing in the face of additional expense, but let’s be real, are you actually composting your cup or just tossing it in the landfill? If it’s the latter, that’s not actually helping. You have to compost to collect your brownie points. You can help your local cafe owner reduce the impact of cafe operations by bringing your own cup.

eco coffee cup
Not all eco cups go to Heaven.

“What if the barista refuses my reusable coffee cup?”

Sydney’s coffee scene is too competitive to piss off a regular. To smooth the transition, ensure your cup is fit for purpose (mason jars are not the best choice for hot drinks you plan to carry) and bring it in clean. And smile that charming smile of yours as you explain to them that you just can’t abide wasted materials.

reusable cup

Now, the rewards don’t stop with gaining a smug sense that you’re helping reduce landfill waste – you can also save cold hard cash. Many a cafe will offer a discount for those who bring their own cup. Check out Responsible Cafes’ map of participating locations Australia-wide to find the cafe nearest you. You could save up to $0.50 off your long black!

“It makes me look cool”

Think about how silly that even sounded to read. Granted I don’t think anyone would admit to believing this, but monkey see monkey do, and we live in a visual culture, friends. As long as Pinterest lifestyle blogger types glorify the single use cup as prop (or boxed water for that matter, don’t get me started..), we’re going to be battling the the trickle down effect of this absurd aspirational cachet. Don’t fall victim to this fashion crime. Choose to reuse instead. It looks better on you.

No country for old milk: how kefir grains help me avoid food waste

Fermentation is a handy tool to prevent food going to waste, like milk that’s about to expire. No spills, no tears! Let’s make kefir. 

Food waste in aisle seven…

The other week in the grocery store, I noticed bottles of organic milk on sale for only a dollar each. Normally these are $5.50 at the same shop so I took home two bottles full.

The only catch? The milk would expire the next day. But don’t fret friends, I had a plan.

I would make kefir of course.

Milk kefir is a fermented probiotic food that has been shown to improve gut bacteria, which helps not only our physical health, but our mental health too.

Fermentation is a way of preserving foods that would otherwise go off. The way it works is that the acidic conditions created through fermentation inhibit the growth of bad bacteria, which keeps foods safe for us to eat. In many cases, fermentation actually makes the foods more digestible and nutritious.

The method came into play long before refrigeration was a thing. Like, well before. Because if you think about it, bread is fermented grain, fish sauce is fermented fish, cheese is fermented milk, and so on. These foods have been part of tradition cultures for eons.

Fizzy, tangy milk kefir

Milk kefir grains are a type of SCOBY that transform milk specifically into a fizzy tangy yogurt-like food. I eat it just as I would yogurt or cook with it just as I would sour cream or buttermilk. Or I make cheese – but that’s a story for another day. It’s a bit more liquid in texture than yogurt – reminiscent of Yop, for those of us who remember.

While one can buy kefir in most grocers around my parts, I make my own because it’s a better quality probiotic, I can avoid excess packaging, and it’s all just too easy.

How to make milk kefir

All you need is a few tablespoons of kefir grains and some milk. The amounts are somewhat flexible, as is the time you leave it out. Use a ratio of around 8 parts milk to 1 part grains, or reduce the ratio of milk.  I’ve been making it for over a year now and I find it to be a very robust culture that tolerates my very casual approach to following recipes.


  • Add your kefir grains to up to 1L of milk in any clean glass container.
  • Leave on the kitchen bench for 24 – 48 hours at room temp with a loose covering to keep out bugs, but not airtight. The warmer the temp, the faster the ferment.
  • After the fermentation step, strain out the grains with a fork or some other straining tool.
  • The strained kefir goes back into the same jar and into the fridge, and the grains go into more milk for a new batch in a clean jar. You can add fruit and let it sit out for a second ferment, but I haven’t experimented as much here as I have with kombucha and my super duper, mega favourite ferment, water kefir.
  • After the milk kefir has gone into the fridge with a tightly capped lid, it will become effervescent and keep for a few weeks in the fridge.

If I’m travelling or just want to press pause on making more kefir, I put the grains in milk and put them into the fridge. Refrigeration slows down the activity of the culture, and thus, the fermentation process. This is the slow train to Kefirville. If you leave this a week or so in the fridge, you’ll have the same result as if you’d done the shorter stint on the counter. I was out of the country for over three weeks last summer and it was all fine like this until I returned.

Where to find milk kefir grains

It’s cheap to make your own kefir, it’s so simple, and it’s a great way to avoid food waste.

If you’re in Australia, look for a crop swap group in your area, try asking on the Nabo app (this is where I got mine – thanks Roz!), or you could try searching this database for someone nearby. I’m sure you could buy some online or dehydrated, but sharing cultures is a way to make life better without paying to play. Once you have your grains, they will last indefinitely, and you can share with others once they start to multiply.

Fritter away leftovers with this easy food waste hack

Think of leftovers as a shortcut to a tasty, easy Zero Waste meal. Fritters are one of my favourite ways to use up leftover bits and bobs that might otherwise leave me uninspired. 

In January, post-holiday, I think many people come to the realization that they’ve over-catered, have too much food in the fridge, and little motivation to do anything other than toss it in the bin and start afresh.

Will it fritter?

If you find yourself in this particular situation, I want you to ask yourself this one question: Will it fritter?

Making leftovers into a simple fritter batter makes an easy dinner or breakfast. Many dishes actually taste better after a day or two in the fridge, when flavours have a chance to develop.

The basic fritter method

When making fritters, the amount of batter you’ll make depends on the amount of leftovers, but don’t worry, it’s really easy.

Start by chopping up what you have on hand and placing it in a bowl. You can do this by hand or in a food processor, like I did in this case.

chopped leftovers

Then coat with the flour of your choice – I use chickpea flour (sometimes called besan). Add a pinch of bi carb for leavening and salt to enhance the flavour.

There isn’t a strict measure, just coat and mix. I like to grind a bunch of pepper in to the batter at this point too.

Add one, two, or three eggs and stir in.

Dollop the batter onto a medium hot griddle or a cast iron pan with a bit of seasoning or oil. I like to use the BBQ hotplate during the summer.

Flip once.

Serve with some fresh greens and yogurt or salsa on top.

Here’s where a beautiful shot of the plated fritters would’ve been great. Sorry, I just went ahead and ate them.

Troubleshooting and substitutions

If your fritters don’t hold together on the grill for some reason, just go with it. Scramble them up and call it a hash. Pretend that’s exactly what you meant to do. There are no rules except that you generally want to heat up your leftovers to a safe internal temperature.

If you wanted to make it vegan, you could try a chia or aquafaba egg to replace the real egg (3 parts water to 1 part chia seeds – mix and let the mixture gel a few minutes).

If you’re using chicken’s eggs, why not explore a few surprising things you can do with the shells?

Fritters are easy, Zero Waste, and un-screw-uppable

Fritters are one of the reasons I never worry about too much roasted veg, day old corn, bits of leftover chicken, okara, lentils, quinoa, couscous… or anything else. They are also a good way to use up those last bits of condiments lurking about in your fridge. There are as many possible flavour combinations as you have leftovers.

Embrace those leftovers. Instead of tossing them, go ahead and fritter them away.