March 8, 2010

Healthy Banana Bread

No good pictures resulted from the baking of this bread. I do have these lovely, if not blurry, walnuts.

I hated bananas as a kid. They usually appeared with my breakfast, on the green side, because what mother has time to wait for them to turn the perfect shade of yellow? Not mine, and bless her for feeding me great food. But I secretly dreaded eating that part of my breakfast. Green bananas seem to have more of the banana string- that weird stuff that comes off with the peel? I once heard someone say their idea of hell was listening to that part of Britney Spears song, "Oops I did it Again"- Eeehyahyahya and being covered in banana string. I can relate.

One way I did enjoy bananas was in bread form. Banana bread made its debut in our house fairly often growing up, usually one loaf baked for now and another frozen for later. It now has a place in my house, usually with a handful of chocolate chips thrown in for good measure. This time around, I wanted a healthier bread that would make a better breakfast, especially as half-marathon training comes to a peak. So I took my standard, the Joy of Baking recipe, and amped it up. With whole wheat flour, flax seed, walnuts, cinnamon, its still just as tasty as the original.

Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf

1 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tbls ground flax seed-thanks Ames!
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 ripe large bananas, mashed well (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted. Let cool and then chop coarsely.

3. In a large bowl combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nuts, and flax. Set aside.

4. In another bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, melted cooled butter, and vanilla.

5. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined and the batter is thick and chunky. Don't overmix- like pancakes, batter will be very lumpy.

6. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until bread is golden brown and a  toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool and then remove the bread from the pan.