We live in an age of high fashion food; hence, the commonplace banana has no more glamour than a nylon nightgown. But glamour can be exhausting, and slowing down to savor the familiar goodness of a banana is one of life’s pleasures.
To celebrate the wondrous ‘nana, I offer a multi-grain banana bread, one I’ve been promising to share for some time now. I had planned to take notes on how my husband makes his (it’s great), but instead decided to branch out on my own, in large part because I couldn’t get him to commit to a note-taking baking session (he prefers spur-of-the-moment banana bread episodes).
This recipe is the confluence of several basic banana bread recipes—one from Joy of Cooking, another from a Williams-Sonoma muffin book, and a third from Cooking Light. The result is healthier, and also (in my humble opinion) more delicious thanks to the substitutions of white whole wheat flour for standard all-purpose flour, and brown sugar for white, which adds subtle undertones of molasses and caramel. A final addition of some ground flaxseeds makes the bread even moister while adding those super-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
But as good as the swap-outs and add-ins are, it’s the bananas that shine in this yummy bread. You may have a general idea of the nutrition in your ubiquitous bananas, but I am happy to report some of the specifics.
For starters, they are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium and dietary fiber. One banana has 15 percent of the vitamin C, 11 percent of the potassium, and 16 percent of the dietary fiber needed each day for good health. Bananas also contain a rich supply of vitamin B6 (20 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance) which is significant in the synthesis of antibodies in the immune system. Finally, they help in protein metabolism, red blood cell formation and functioning of the central nervous system. At 90 calories and fewer than 15 cents a pop, they are almost too good to be true.
And now, to the kitchen!
Camilla’s Whole Grain Banana Bread with Flax
This bread, like any quick bread, can be made in less time by making it as muffins.It will make about 14 standard size muffins, and you’ll only need to bake them about 20 minutes. A gentle reminder before you begin baking: when adding the flour mixture to the banana mixture, stir as little as possible—overmixing is what can cause a gummy texture. But if you mix just until the flour is incorporated, you’ll have a perfectly tender bread.
2 cups white whole wheat flour (e.g., King Arthur brand)3 tablespoons ground flaxseeds (flax meal)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 and 2/3 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x5-inch Pyrex baking pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour (e.g., Bakers Joy).
In a medium bowl whisk the flour, flax, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.
In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer set at medium speed until well blended. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the banana, yogurt, and vanilla until just blended. Stir in the flour mixture by hand until just blended. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake 55-60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Invert onto wire rack, turn upright, and cool completely. Makes 14 slices/servings.
Nutrition per Serving (1 slice):Calories 184; Fat 4.1g (poly 0.5g, mono 1.2g, sat 2.4g); Protein 3.9g; Cholesterol 40mg; Carbohydrate 34.7g; Sodium 198mg)
(Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)