Monday, August 9, 2010

Banana-Lama-Ding-Dong

I'm sure I can't be alone in thinking my family is singlehandedly keeping the banana producer industry afloat. Oddly enough, I actually can't stand the fruit - I find it way too sweet, and even as a sugar-loving (i.e. typical) kid the only time you'd find me eating a banana was if it was almost entirely green. The soft, velvety sweet flesh of a perfectly ripe fruit was lost on me. My sister, on the other hand, was the banana queen for most of her childhood. As soon as they were yellow and fragrant, she'd be into the bunch like a dirty shirt - and mom would be left wondering where the hand of 6 or 7 bananas disappeared to! Ironically enough, T now detests anything to do with bananas. The smell, the taste and certainly the inherent ability of the fruit to go south in a matter of hours, drawing fruit flies to our kitchen from what feels like all over Ontario as they swarm towards the pile of no longer yellow food.

So these days, a potential household of five banana eaters has been reduced to one - my stepdad. My mom is eschewing the starchy banana in favour of grapefruit segments for her fruit selection, I prefer the Divine apples or Ontario peaches in our fridge, and my sister and stepbrother... well, they just don't eat fruit. And although my stepdad likes bananas, he still insists on buying three times as much fruit as anyone in the house can possibly eat (especially him, being a Type II diabetic), often leaving the quickly softening tropical selection to rot on the counter. By the time he's ready to declare them unfit for consumption (we have yet to convince him to put most fruit and vegetables in the fridge even after several mould incidents) the bananas are just this side of walking out the door under their own power, and sometimes it really is a matter of a day or two that separates banana bread-suitable and composter-fodder fruit.

Luckily, my stepdad, grandfather and dad (all diabetic or pre-diabetic) all love banana bread. And given the constant state of the union here, I make a lot of it! So while the baked treats aren't as healthy as a fresh piece of fruit, I'm able to control the sugar, fibre and total carb counts moreso than what storebought mixes or pre-made cakes can offer. Needless to say, the loaves I make are not "diet food"... I mean sure, you can dial back on the fat and add applesauce or something like that, but my stepdad in particular (are you getting the sense he's a bit picky?) turns his nose up at anything overtly whole grain, low-fat or low-sugar. Sigh. Well, I can try, right?

This first batch of banana bread came courtesy of the fact that the "adults" in the household (read: mom and stepdad) had gone away for a few days, leaving a bunch of the fruit sitting out in the summer heat. By the time I got to them, they were a little worse for wear, and there was a handful each of roasted chickpeas and soybeans dusting the bottom of two large containers in the pantry. I started out attempting to grind a mixed-legume "butter" out of them in my food processor, but after only managing to achieve a fine mealy mixture I opted to just shove the blend into a good old fashioned nanner concoction. To cover up any sort of "off" flavour or texture, I threw in some coconut and chocolate chips too. Hey, it's banana bread, how bad could it be?

"Back From Vacation" Banana Bread
Makes 12 Slices
7 oz dry-roasted soy beans
4 oz dry-roasted chickpeas
2 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp water
1.5 oz butter, softened
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 large, over-ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 oz shredded, sweetened coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease a loaf pan.
  2. In a food processor, grind soy beans, chickpeas, oil and water until a fine mealy texture is formed. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together butter, coconut oil, sugar, and agave nectar until well blended.
  4. Beat in ground mealy mixture, bananas, egg and vanilla.
  5. Stir in flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, coconut and chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 55 minutes. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes before turning out onto a rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 326.3
Total Fat: 14.7 g
Cholesterol: 25.2 mg
Sodium: 44.2 mg
Total Carbs: 44.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.0 g
Protein: 10.2 g
 
Of course, the problem with getting rid of the "banana problem" one week means that one or two weeks later, the same glut of fruit will be hanging around again. This time, there was quite the large bunch of them turning their merry selves black on the countertop, and when I offered to make a loaf out of them to spare the composter, my mom agreed - on the condition that whatever I made was moist at the same time as not wreaking havoc on the pancreases of potential eaters. I had always thought of my banana breads as being moist creations... certainly nobody had ever complained to me about them before... but I figured I'd take it up a bit considering the textural concern was worth a mention at all. So I doubled the bananas and added eggs, ricotta cheese, honey and oil to my basic recipe, and played around with the flours a bit - adding chickpea and almond meals to balance out the carb load a bit and bump up the fibre. Roasting the bananas brought their sweetness and rich, velvety texture to the forefront, which both helped override the taste of the artificial sweetener I used (Splenda, this time) and allowed me to use less total sweetening in the batter.
 
Low(er) Carb Banana Bread
Makes 12 Slices
6 medium, over-ripe bananas, broken into chunks (not mashed)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup almond flour (ground almonds)
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tbsp low-fat ricotta cheese
1/3 cup Splenda Granular (sucralose)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Demerara sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 400F, grease a baking dish.
  2. Place banana chunks in one layer in the dish and roast 25 minutes. Mash with a fork and set aside.
  3. Reduce oven to 350F and grease a 9x5" loaf pan.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, wheat germ, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, beat together butter, oil, ricotta, Splenda, honey and Demerara sugar until well blended.
  6. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well, then add the mashed bananas and stir in.
  7. Add the flour mixture and stir just to combine.
  8. Pour into the loaf pan and smooth the top.
  9. Bake for 65 minutes, until it tests done.
  10. Cool in the pan for 25 minutes before unmoulding onto a rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 270.2
Total Fat: 11.7 g
Cholesterol: 46.4 mg
Sodium: 45.6 mg
Total Carbs: 41.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.4 g
Protein: 5.4 g

2 comments :

David T. Macknet said...

We always just freeze them, in the skin, when they turn just right for banana bread. They're perfectly fine that way (run cool water over them until the skins slip), and are also great for smoothies!

Weight Loss Goals said...

I love bananas also when they are green and won't touch them after they start to turn unless they are going in a recipe of some sort. Thanks for a couple of new variations to try.