Healthy for the holidays: Delicious whole wheat banana bread
Last week we addressed cooking with bouillon in lieu of oils and butter (hopefully no need to mention lard in the 21st century).
But this is baking weather and, worse (or “better,” depending on your age and weight) the baking season, which is kind of hard to do without sugar.
First of all, look to applesauce as a substitute when baking. It can replace the oil in most cake recipes and give the final product a truly festive kick.
Another sweet resource is the oh-so-affordable banana. Such a dependable fruit. Seriously, while our peaches, nectarines and plums have disappeared and the melons are becoming pricey, the banana is right there, still at less than a dollar a pound.
Rick Rucker, general manager of Hampton Inn & Suites Truckee-Tahoe, has been treating his hotel guests to loaves of his famous banana bread since he opened the hotel in 2005.
And it was around that time he became a regular at the TDRPD Aquatic Center and started bringing it in for staff members who enjoyed it with a twinge of guilt (come on! This is Truckee-Donner Park and Rec District — we’re the healthy guys).
Turns out, our conscience was clear — Rick’s banana bread is a pretty healthy loaf. The key is he froths up the banana to use as his primary sweetener thus lessening the amount of sugar needed.
He also uses whole-wheat flour. Which brings us to a good rule of thumb when trying to slim down: only eat a carbohydrate that has a fiber content attached to it.
That may not sound like the tastiest kitchen secret you’ve ever heard, but if you doubt the validity of the tastiness of this banana froth bread, stop by the Hampton Inn & Suites Truckee-Tahoe, they might be serving it up.
And, no, we won’t be offering it at the park and rec fitness track or Aquatic Center.
Whole Wheat Banana Bread
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 overripe bananas
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tbls. butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl mix together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Mash two of the bananas in a small bowl, leaving in some small chunks. Set aside.
Using an electric hand held, mix together the remaining two bananas and sugars until they resemble a banana cream then add the melted butter, eggs and vanilla to this. Beat well.
Now mix the dry ingredients in with this until blended, but no need to over beat. Next, using a rubber spatula, fold in the nuts and the mashed banana cream. Pour batter into your loaf pan and rap it on the counter top to get rid of any bubbles.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
This column comes courtesy of Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District staff and members, reminding us to eat responsibly during the holidays. For more information on how you can stay in shape during the winter months, visit tdrpd.org.