Saturday, May 21, 2011

Baker's Choice Banana Bread

One of the first recipes I ever made using whole wheat flour was a honey whole wheat banana bread. My mom makes a mean banana bread. In fact it is one of her best and most requested family recipes. So when I started on the healthy track, I wanted to have that wonderful, moist bread that I remember from my childhood, without all the white stuff.

The original recipe I found called for all the traditional ingredients you would find in a banana bread but used whole wheat flour and honey in place of the flour and sugar. It's delicious and very easy to make. But what I like best about it, is that you can make a whole different bread every time just by adding fruits and/or nuts to it. A few years ago, I taught my niece Hailey how to make this bread. As we were baking, I was talking to her about choosing healthy ingredients, (using canola oil, why whole wheat is healthier, making sure that what you eat fuels your body as well as feeds it, etc.) It was a great bonding experience. I told her that she could make this bread "her own" by making some choices. She chose to add strawberries to it, and she definitely had good instincts because it was delicious! She went home with a treat for her family and a recipe for "Hailey's Banana Bread."

This morning I decided to use the two ripe bananas sitting in the bowl on the kitchen table and see what I could come up with as a new bread idea. I ended up with a raspberry almond banana bread, which I would highly recommend! I'm sharing here the basic recipe and then the variations to make the raspberry almond one. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Banana Bread
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup agave nectar (or honey)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
2 medium bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 to 3/4 cup berries or other fruit
1/2 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk canola oil and agave nectar in a bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla and bananas. On parchment or wax paper, whisk flour and salt together. Stir into wet ingredients until moistened. Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Stir into batter. Stir in fruit and nuts. Bake at 325 for 55-60 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Raspberry Almond Banana Bread:
For flour- Use 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 cup almond flour
For vanilla- Use 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. almond extract
For fruit- Stir in 3/4 cup halved raspberries
For nuts- Stir in 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds, chopped

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