Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mmmmmmmm.... Awesome Healthy Banana Bread

Okay, so most banana breads are good.  The original version of this recipe, that I grew up eating because my mom made it growing up, was so good that I never really loved other people's banana bread recipes.  Sad, but true.  It was just that good!

I have since "healthified" this recipe, and even with ALL of the flour being whole wheat, my husband (and biggest critic of healthy food), LOVES this.  I use King Arthur Organic 100% Whole Wheat Flour.

If you don't use much buttermilk around the house, then a good option for you would be SACO cultured buttermilk.  It's powdered buttermilk.  You can keep this small canister in the bottom back corner of the fridge and it will be there for you whenever a recipe calls for buttermilk.  I recommend you make about 1/2 cup of this before beginning your bread ingredients.  Just mix and refrigerate until it's time to use it.  When it's time for the baking soda/buttermilk, mix together.  It will get kind of foamy, but then you don't get that weird baking soda taste in your bread.

Bananas: when ours get too ripe (black), I peel them and stick them in ziploc baggies, 3-4 per bag, and freeze until I plan to bake.  The night before baking, I place the baggie(s) in the fridge and let them defrost.  When it's time to add them into the mixture, I pour them in, juices and all!

The recipe below is actually a double recipe.  Today I made 1 full size loaf and 4 mini loaves.  You could make 3 full size loaves with this recipe (or 6 mini loaves).

One last thing I would love to share.  Recently a friend told me she made my banana bread recipe (and how she loves it) but being summertime, doesn't really like to eat much of it because she likes cooler foods in the heat of the summer.  (And this summer has been ridiculously hot!)  I told her how most of the time, when I make it, I'll slice at least 1 loaf up into slices and freeze them individually in baggies.  Then, when I get the urge, I pull one out and eat it frozen.  Sounds strange, but it's GREAT!  And, it's nice and cold on a hot day.  Try it sometime!

So, without further ado:

AWESOME and HEALTHY Banana Bread

2 sticks real butter, softened to room temp
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
7 very ripe bananas (black is best)
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda dissolved into 4 Tbsp buttermilk

With a blender, cream butter and sugar completely.  Add eggs and whip up until well blended.  Mix in the bananas.  Using minimal blending (to avoid over mixing the wheat), add in flour and salt and blend until just mixed together.  Mix in baking soda/buttermilk mixture.  Pour into greased loaf pans and bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes (test after 50, plan for an extra 10 minutes if not done).

Enjoy your banana bread!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I *Heart* Picnics

We've had picnic dinners a few times this summer.  I love to picnic, especially when we can go to the park and hear free music to enjoy while we dine.  I love getting creative with what we're going to eat, and I don't typically go simple.  It's too fun not to.

Recently I took some mini cube sandwiches with chicken breast, sliced cheddar and southwest lime ranch dressing on pumpernickel bread (wheat for the girls).  I made regular sandwiches, but then cut into 4's and put them on toothpicks so they were small pick-me-up sandwich bites. 

To go with it, I chose fresh raspberries and kiwi wedges for fruit, and a simple black bean salad that I whipped up with some stuff from the garden.  Hope you'll try this simple recipe.

Black Bean Salad

1 can black beans, drained
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, snipped
2 small Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime

Mix together and refrigerate or pack in cooler until ready to eat!