I wonder if anyone ever goes out and buys bananas with the specific intention of making banana bread. Unlike other sweet treats, banana bread always seems to be an after-thought. An emergency culinary operation to save over-ripe bananas from the trash-can, and to save our conscience from the distress of having wasted good food. Well, the banana bread that follows was also a rescue mission to salvage two rapidly ripening bananas. I found a recipe on the Vegetarian Times website that looked a little different from the usual banana bread recipes. After trying it, I realized that it could fit into the heart-healthy theme of the event above and decided to send it in.
Why is this recipe more heart-healthy than most baked treats?
1. It uses fiber-rich whole-wheat flour.
2. The source of fat is mainly peanut butter, which is a rich source of protein, micronutrients and "good" fats.
I made a couple more changes in the original recipe: (a) reduced the sugar and added some molasses (see note below) instead, (b) substituted milk for half of the oil. One might think of making this recipe even less fatty by substituting 2-3 egg whites for the one whole egg, and applesauce for the oil. The chocolate chips are optional, but oh so delicious. Perhaps the most heart-friendly device with respect to sweet treat is sharing them, just like our parents always instructed us to: cutting the loaf into small portion slices and sharing them with lots of friends ensures that you enjoy it without over-indulging. Next time, I might bake this in a 8 x 8 baking pan instead of a loaf pan to be able to cut smaller portions easily.
A digression: Molasses is a by-product of sugar production.
It has a deep color and a robust taste to match (the way jaggery has a distinct taste; unlike refined sugar which is just baldly sweet). The taste of molasses might be an acquired one; I grew up in a region that is teeming with sugarcane fields and sugar factories, and did acquire the taste early in life (molasses is called kakvi in Marathi). It is a great choice for a sweetener because it has lots of micronutrients- these factories work hard to remove all possible nutrients from sugar while refining it and many of them end up in the byproduct, molasses. Of course, because of its deep taste, molasses won't work in all baked goods, but is delicious in banana bread (as I can testify) and ginger cookies and gingerbread, and worth experimenting with in other breads and baked goods. I've tried it in carrot halwa with delicious results. The bottle you see here is organic fair-trade molasses that I found in Whole Foods.
PB Banana Bread with CC
(adapted from Vegetarian Times, makes 1 loaf)
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Spray a loaf pan with oil.
3. Dry ingredients: In a large bowl, mix
1 C white whole-wheat flour
1/3 C sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
4. Wet ingredients: In a medium bow, mix
2 medium over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 C unsweetened crunchy peanut butter
1/4 C plain non-fat yogurt
1 large egg
1 T oil
1 T low-fat milk
2 T molasses
5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredient bowl and stir gently to combine. Stir in 1/3 C chocolate chips.
6. Pour the batter into loaf pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool, slice and serve.
The Verdict: Utterly delicious! I ate a slice just after baking this loaf, and it was divine. The molasses and banana flavors seem to be made for each other. The crunch and richness of the peanut butter, coming upon the ocassional gooey chocolate chip- this recipe is a keeper. This is worth going out and buying bananas for!
P.S. If you don't like peanut butter, you might want to make this delicious nutella variation from Daily Musings.
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