Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Aunt Sheila's Banana Bread Recipe

MMmmm, I remember the sweet-smelling aroma of my mom's banana bread spreading through the house. When the oven timer went off, we dashed into the kitchen, trying to beat my dad to the first piece. Too excited to let it cool properly, we would shuffle the first slice from hand to hand (think hot potato), blowing wildly until it was cool enough to eat. That slice was quickly followed by another until the loaf vanished. Not to worry,  Mom always baked multiple batches. And soon, the counter was guaranteed to be blanketed with rows and rows of banana bread....some with nuts, some without and even some with chocolate chips.

However, most banana bread recipes are chock-full of sugar and butter, but not much nutrition. The word spread that I was looking for a "healthier" banana bread and this recipe was quickly referred to me by a few family members. Lucky for me, Aunt Sheila so kindly shared this wholesome ingredient list, which quickly became one of the top contenders in my search for a 'healthier' banana bread.

If you're like me, you can't resist having a slice or two of fresh banana bread with your morning coffee. You won't feel as guilty about eating this version for breakfast since part of the white flour is replaced with whole wheat flour, which still has the nutritious bran and germ intact. This boils down to more fiber and protein. Plus, whole grains are also better sources of nutrients such as selenium, potassium and magnesium. Flaxseed is another nutrition powerhouse, full of all sorts of goodies. One tablespoon of flaxseed contains 1.8 mg of omega-3 essential fatty acids and it also contains high quantities of lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Again, by adding in flaxseed, the total amount of fiber in the dish will be increased. Not to mention it is the subject in many research areas, including prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammation and even hot flashes! But buttermilk.....that can't be healthy, right?!?! Sadly my pal, buttermilk, often gets a bad reputation because it contains the word, butter. When in fact, it is actually lower in fat and easier to digest than some types of milk because it contains probiotics -like yogurt- and high calcium amounts. Probiotics introduce beneficial bacteria to the gut, which are essential for nutrient breakdown and absorption. In baking, buttermilk can be used as a leaven to help raise bread when yeast is not being used.  

With the added nutrients and half the sugar, this is definitely a keeper!!! Let those bananas ripen and give this recipe a try!

  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar                               
  • 1/2 c low fat buttermilk *                                  
  • 1 egg                                                               
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil    
  • (I added a tsp vanilla)  
  • 3/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour  
  • 1/2 c whole wheat flour   
  • 3/4 c ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp baking powder  
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/8 tsp salt                                    
  • 1 c pureed bananas    (2-3 bananas)                                  
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a non-stick 8"x4" loaf pan with no-stick spray.

 In a large bowl, combine the sugar, buttermilk, egg and oil. Whisk until smooth.

 In a medium bowl, combine the unbleached flour, whole-wheat flour, ground flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to mix. Add to the liquid ingredients. Stir just until blended; do not overmix.

Add the bananas and stir to mix. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let the bread cool slightly. While it is still slightly warm, turn the bread out of the pan.

(For best results, choose very ripe bananas, place them in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.)

Notes from Aunt Sheila:  
"I usually double this recipe which takes about 5 medium bananas & makes 2 loafs."

Notes from Uncle Mark (official taste taster):
"It is GOOOOOOOOD! In fact we took a loaf from the last batch out of the freezer this morning and I am enjoying a slice now!!!"

*You can substitute 1/2 tsp lemon juice or  vinegar plus enough milk to equal 1/2 cup for the buttermilk

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