Banana Berry Flax Muffins


It felt like an endless night before Christmas. Evenings was stuffed with keen anticipation and the desire just to know. What is it that’s wrapped up? What do I get to play with?

If I said I took the few days before we found out if the stowaway was pink or blue calmly in my stride, it would be a flat out, hissing lie. Adding to the distractions; this week in which I’ve now got  something the size of a banana lurking inside was also the week in which the stowaway found its legs.

In the beginning there were dim little blips- phantom phffts which felt a little like the first pieces of popcorn blooming in a pan. They usually happened just as I retired to bed. Sometimes it was hard to discern if it was the stowaway, or an internal rattling born from a little too much cake.

Then last week I was waiting in Trafalgar Square in one of those ‘life on a Monopoly board’ in London moments. There was a bagpiper who struck up with gusto just 10 metres in front of me. It was like you sat bolt upright. It was as if you’d been shunted out of a dream by a car backfiring outside the window. Suddenly there was something tumbling and twisting inside, like I was travelling in an elevator at great speed and spinning, all at once.  I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing. ‘Hello Sven*’ I said.

*(Sven being our placeholder name for the stowaway from Sweden).

Since then, the party has been on. On Sunday afternoon, while eating fistfuls of popcorn, seasoned heavily with pepper and salt and my body weight in hummous and carrots and watching ‘Return of the Jedi’ you had a little rebellion all of your own (this event being the final chapter in our London defacto family’s efforts over the last two years to rewatch all of Star Wars, in Machete order. For those who also carry a streak of geekery and a shared fascination with narrative structure, go here, read and have your world remade). With the first booming sounds that heralded the new and improved Death Star it started dancing a jig. I placed a pillow over my lap to muffle the sound, but for the next two hours it would not stop shifting and shaking. Perhaps this is the real secret to shaping the next generation of fans.

And now you’ve decided that most mornings between 3 and 4 am is a terrific time for a fiesta. I personally am less keen on this. I had hoped that the broken sleep wouldn’t kick in for a few more months.

So it was with bleary eyes  that we trundled off to St Thomas’ hospital at 7.30 am this morning for our 20 week scan. In the waiting room of Women’s Ultrasound the floors are a strange shade. They’re almost iridescent pine. The association came to me in a flash. This was a material I remember most closely from the walls of my Sylvanian Family doll house as a child.

After the awkward scrambling onto the bench, after the warm jelly and some prodding, there again you are. This time you have a profile. You seem to have got your Dad’s strong nose and missed out on my weak English chin. You grabbed your feet a lot and spent quite a bit of time using my bladder as a pillow, burying your face away from the light. This might be comfortable for you, but at some point, I’m scheduling in a gentle chat about that.

You’re hanging out a bit low, which might explain a few of the glitches you’ve put me through in the last couple of weeks. But despite my 3 am fears, you’ve got two legs, two arms, eyes, a brain and all the other bits which are vital.

Plus a few extra.

You’re a cheeky little thing, my son.

The muffins listed below are a recipe that’s perfect to make when you’re distracted and excited and bewildered by the prospect of knowing, well beyond mother’s intuition, and confirmed by imagery and science that you are indeed growing a boy.

They make heroes of those old bananas, or some that you’ve stashed in the freezer after they’ve turned inky black and over ripe. They require little more effort than smashing, mixing and folding. They are sweet with gently bursting berries  and a little rough around the edges, care of a good shake of ground flax. Ground flax was something I was turned onto a while ago. Lots of fibre (good for the pregnant ladies I hear) and plenty of omega three. It’s grand mixed into porridge, but also brings a nice nutty flavour to help bulk out baking. You can buy sacks of it at most health food stores these days.

These are best eaten warm, with some butter and a cup of tea to  help calm one of your constant cravings for cake. If you’re like me, use the time while they’re baking to acknowledge that the old wives were wrong, about many things. It seems your recently acquired sweet tooth has nothing to do with you hosting a girl. Instead it has everything to do with you carrying a soul with good taste.

Once they’ve come out of the oven try restrain yourself and put a few aside for breakfast tomorrow. Try a bit later on to source a  good night of  sleep. And when you’re woken at 3 am again by yet another wild internal rumpus, try to smile.  (This is something best done by turning your thoughts to what in the heck the future will hold for your….son).

Banana Berry Flax Muffins

Makes 12 muffins


12 hole muffin tray (1/3 cup capacity). Butter for greasing muffin tray.


3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of ground flax seeds
3 tbsp of natural yoghurt
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups of plain flour
1/2 cup of berries (blueberries, raspberries or a mix)

Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Mash the bananas together with a fork.

2 ) Muddle in the egg and the yoghurt, until you have a gloopy slurry.

3) Stir in the sugar and the ground flax

4) Sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Stir to combine, but try not to overwork the batter.

5) Fold in the berries.

6) Grease the insides of a 12 hole, one-third cup muffin tray and portion out the batter.

7) Bake for 20 minutes, until the muffins are puffed and a skewer comes out clean.

8) Allow to cool in tray for 5 minutes, then flip onto their sides to finish cooling the bottoms.

9) Eat on their own with a cup of tea, or spread with some ricotta or butter.

Forty Weeks of Feasting

Each week mad websites and baby books will tell you how big your baby now is in comparison to a seed, fruit or vegetable. It starts as a poppy seed and goes from there. To make this process a little more palatable, join me as I bake my way through. Here’s the journey so far.

Week 19 Mango Pudding. Recipe here
Week 18 Sweet Potato, Red Onion and Feta Pie. Recipe here
Week 17 Red Pepper, Chicken, Onion and Date Tagine. Recipe here.
Week 16 Avocado Mint Salsa with Pea and Mozzarella Quesadillas. Recipe here.
Week 15 Orange, Polenta and Rosemary Cake. Recipe here.
Wk 14 Lemon Creme Fraiche and Parmesan Pasta. Recipe here


Wk 13 Clementine/Mandarin Curd. Recipe here.
Wk 12 Plum and tomato tartines. Recipe here
Wk 11 Sprout and mushroom gratin (in which we come out of the closet). Recipe here
Wk 10 Date tart. Recipe here
Wk 9 Roasted grapes with baby chickens. Recipe here.
Wk 8 Raspberries and elderflower spritz. Recipe here.
Wk 7 Blueberry pancakes. Recipe here
Wk 6 Lentil and ginger soup. Recipe here
Wk 5 Sesame Miso Crisps. Recipe here
Wk 4 Poppy seed scrolled loaf. Recipe here.
  1. Yay Tori! Congrats on a beautiful, bouncing baby-boy-to-be! Lots of love! PS I guessed it – just sayin’.

  2. Yay, a boy! How exciting xx

  3. “My son” I almost cried when I read that! Hooray for another hungry one :)))

  4. Look at him there- he’s amazing! I visited my sister last week and she put my hand on her stomach to feel the baby kick. I’ve never felt that before and I can’t imagine what it’s like for you (and her). It was so wonderful! I love the way you’ve written about your experience here, and I could really go for one of those muffins right now.

  5. charlie aarons on 20 March 2013

    Congratulations again and give Sven a little rub for me

  6. Your banana has a banana! Too weird? Potentially. So thrilling – and yes, I got a little emotional when I read ‘son’, too. Beautiful.

  7. Congratulations!!! Although I know when you are there, no matter how much you have been waiting to find out, all you can do is check that “it” has hands, feet, ears, nose, mouth etc. I have to laugh whenever you write Sven because that is the name of the main character in my husband’s favorite story of the good ‘ole days… except Sven in that case was his former girlfriend’s pet (that he didn’t know about at the time)!

  8. “heroes of old bananas” hahaha I love it!

  9. I just made these muffins and they are delicious! I love the amount of flax in them and have added this recipe as a go to muffin recipe. My 20 month old loves them too 🙂

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