Going bananas for banana bread

Bananas ripen so quickly in the summer months.  I often slice them and freeze the slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Then I pop the slices into a plastic bag or container and keep in the freezer for future snacks and smoothies.

The other day I decided to make banana bread (even though the thermometer read 92 degrees!). After experimenting a bit in the kitchen with different ingredients, I was rewarded for my efforts with lovely browned loaves of sweet, moist, fragrant bread.

If you like quick breads, give this a try.

Better Eating’s Banana Bread

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (or equivalent in egg substitute)
  • ¼ cup light olive oil
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup mashed, ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray two 8 ½ X 5 inch glass loaf pans with baking spray. Line just the bottom of each dish with wax paper. Set aside.
  2. Combine flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl.   In another bowl combine sugar, eggs, olive oil, buttermilk, and mashed bananas. Mix well. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Slowly add wet ingredients to dry mixture, stirring just until well-moistened. (There will be some lumps.) Pour mixture into the pans, dividing batter equally between the two.
  4.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 to 33 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan.

Variations:

Stir in ½ cup chopped nuts and/or ½ cup dark chocolate chips before pouring batter into pans. This may increase baking time.

I prefer Pyrex-type or Corning Ware loaf pans. Metal pans or different sizes can affect baking time, so start checking for doneness before 30 minutes. I have baked one large loaf with this recipe, using an 8 1/2 X 5 inch glass pan, baking for 1 hour and 20 minutes at 325 degrees.

Enjoy.

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Add white to the colors you eat

Eating a rainbow of color during the summer months is healthy and easy to accomplish.  Grocery stores and farmers markets are teeming with luscious-looking fruits.  However, fruits with white flesh also offer healthy benefits during the warmer months and other seasons of the year.

One white fruit that most people enjoy, including babies, and that can be added to any summer fruit salad is the banana.  Nutritionally bananas provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C and the minerals potassium and magnesium. 

Potassium is probably the most familiar health benefit of this tropical fruit.  This mineral helps to maintain blood pressure at desirable levels, and is important for muscle contraction and nerve function.

Add three grams of fiber to the list, and one has a great little food.

But there is yet more goodness in this fruit. Under ripe bananas, those with a little green on the peel are a source of resistant starch, a type of starch that is not digested in the small intestine as other starches are. 

The resistant starch travels on to the large intestine where our resident bacteria feed on the starch and produce fatty acids.  The resulting fatty acids help to control other bacteria that could make us sick.  And resistant starch may help keep blood sugars in line after eating a meal high in carbohydrates.

The best part about bananas is that they are so easy to keep and prepare.  Just put a bunch in a bowl on the counter and grab for a quick snack.  Bananas are also a sweet addition to the morning cereal, lunchtime peanut butter sandwich or fruit salad, afternoon exercise smoothie, and dinnertime dessert such as a layered pudding parfait.

Overripe bananas can be mashed and added to pancake batter and quick breads.  Or, slice and freeze on a cookie sheet in a single layer.  After an hour, take out the frozen slices and enjoy.  Frozen banana has the texture of ice cream without the additional fat and calories.

To complete the package, bananas are an inexpensive food, costing 44 cents per one cup serving, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Whatever your preference, bananas can add something special to your day.