Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

The Heart of the Matter is a food blog event with a difference- like many other events, you make a dish every month based on a theme, BUT with one important criterion: the food has to be heart-friendly and healthful! It is a wonderful challenge to think of the food we eat and come up with something that is both delicious and better for the body. The round-ups are collected in the HotM blog so that we can all have a handy collection of recipes to try out. The theme this month, hosted by Joanna is something that is rarely heart-friendly: Baking.

I wonder if anyone ever goes out and buys bananas with the specific intention of making banana bread. Unlike other sweet treats, banana bread always seems to be an after-thought. An emergency culinary operation to save over-ripe bananas from the trash-can, and to save our conscience from the distress of having wasted good food. Well, the banana bread that follows was also a rescue mission to salvage two rapidly ripening bananas. I found a recipe on the Vegetarian Times website that looked a little different from the usual banana bread recipes. After trying it, I realized that it could fit into the heart-healthy theme of the event above and decided to send it in.

Why is this recipe more heart-healthy than most baked treats?
1. It uses fiber-rich whole-wheat flour.
2. The source of fat is mainly peanut butter, which is a rich source of protein, micronutrients and "good" fats.

I made a couple more changes in the original recipe: (a) reduced the sugar and added some molasses (see note below) instead, (b) substituted milk for half of the oil. One might think of making this recipe even less fatty by substituting 2-3 egg whites for the one whole egg, and applesauce for the oil. The chocolate chips are optional, but oh so delicious. Perhaps the most heart-friendly device with respect to sweet treat is sharing them, just like our parents always instructed us to: cutting the loaf into small portion slices and sharing them with lots of friends ensures that you enjoy it without over-indulging. Next time, I might bake this in a 8 x 8 baking pan instead of a loaf pan to be able to cut smaller portions easily.

A digression: Molasses is a by-product of sugar production.
It has a deep color and a robust taste to match (the way jaggery has a distinct taste; unlike refined sugar which is just baldly sweet). The taste of molasses might be an acquired one; I grew up in a region that is teeming with sugarcane fields and sugar factories, and did acquire the taste early in life (molasses is called kakvi in Marathi). It is a great choice for a sweetener because it has lots of micronutrients- these factories work hard to remove all possible nutrients from sugar while refining it and many of them end up in the byproduct, molasses. Of course, because of its deep taste, molasses won't work in all baked goods, but is delicious in banana bread (as I can testify) and ginger cookies and gingerbread, and worth experimenting with in other breads and baked goods. I've tried it in carrot halwa with delicious results. The bottle you see here is organic fair-trade molasses that I found in Whole Foods.

PB Banana Bread with CC

PBbanana

(adapted from Vegetarian Times, makes 1 loaf)
1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Spray a loaf pan with oil.

3. Dry ingredients: In a large bowl, mix
1 C white whole-wheat flour
1/3 C sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

4. Wet ingredients: In a medium bow, mix
2 medium over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 C unsweetened crunchy peanut butter
1/4 C plain non-fat yogurt
1 large egg
1 T oil
1 T low-fat milk
2 T molasses

5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredient bowl and stir gently to combine. Stir in 1/3 C chocolate chips.

6. Pour the batter into loaf pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool, slice and serve.

The Verdict: Utterly delicious! I ate a slice just after baking this loaf, and it was divine. The molasses and banana flavors seem to be made for each other. The crunch and richness of the peanut butter, coming upon the ocassional gooey chocolate chip- this recipe is a keeper. This is worth going out and buying bananas for!

P.S. If you don't like peanut butter, you might want to make this delicious nutella variation from Daily Musings.

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A note to fellow bloggers: If you are interested, please do participate in Blog Action Day 2007, simply by writing a post on any issue related to the environment on Monday, October 15th.

38 comments:

  1. Looking at the title at FBD I thought perhaps this is for the Heart of the Matter event - bread looks gorgeous - will give it a shot sometime

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  2. Wouldn't that be PB BB w CC for HOTM? Alphabet bread! PS The only time I buy bananas is for baking. Well, and for my Dad, for the potassium. : - )

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  3. that is one beautiful looking banana bread, amazing color :)

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  4. PB & Bananas are a great combo just by themselves, am sure that the choc. chips kicked it up a notch. I made the Chocolate Bread using the Friendship starter... (just like you did) and we all loved it. Will post soon.

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  5. Love this alphabet bread, thanks for taking part! I spend hours in shops peering at the labels for peanut butter, because so many of them have palm oil, which is not good for the planet, for the orang utangs, or for our heart health!

    Joanna
    joannasfood.blogspot.com

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  6. I love banana bread! And with molasses and CC and PB, oh my! The bread looks utterly gorgeous! I think I will make this but will skip the egg and add one extra banana :)

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  7. Looks lovely and inviting! My friend's daughter would love it for sure! Thanks, sweetie :).

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  8. wow..absolute yummy luking! :)will try it soon

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  9. Bananas, peanut butter, chocolate chip AND good for the heart too? I am in heaven! Also see that unlike me, you did not eat the main ingredient, the banana before it got to the bread ;)

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  10. PB+B w/ chocolate chips...in a bread! Can't wait to try it.

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  11. Hi Nupur,
    Lovely recipe..thanks for sharing!
    Did you know that you could substitute honey for molasses? I have tried substituting it in my muffin recipes, and it works well.

    Leya

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  12. Lakshmi, do try it, it is delicious :)

    Alanna, yup, that's what it is! We buy bananas all the time for eating out of hand. and for packing into the lunchbox.

    Richa, it is the molasses that gives it the rich brown color :)

    Raks Kitchen, it tasted that way too!

    Laavanya, yes, the chocolate makes it a real treat! Can't wait to read about your adventures with the Friendship bread!

    Joanna, really? I have never seen palm oil listed on any peanut butter jars here in the US. The odd brand has salt and sugar, and I always skip those. The one I used here has two ingredients: peanuts and salt.

    Roopa, yup, I think that will work nicely! Maybe you could add just a little more baking powder to make up for the egg. Let me know if you do try it :) An eggless tried-and-tested option is always welcome.

    Happy Cook, thanks!

    Musical, you, your friend, and the friend's daughter will all love it :D this one is a crowd-pleaser.

    Dhivya, glad you like it!

    Dhana, we are a bunch of bananas, and these two got under the radar and into this bread ;) It is good for the heart in moderation! That tricky word!

    TheCooker, well, it is a cake masquerading as a bread. But try it you must :)

    Leya, I don't know if I would want to substitute honey in place of molasses...the latter being richer in iron etc. Or maybe you mean subbing molasses in place of honey? In which case yes, I am going to be doing that wherever possible! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts :)

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  13. I am going to let a couple ripen to give this a shot, looks gorgeous, the only ingredient that I am not too fond of is Peanut butter, leave it out you think?

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  14. i have to confess...i do buy bananas wanting to make banana bread...i know they will blacken in my house as nobody eats them. Actually on another note...you can totally omit the eggs in this recipe if you blend or mash the banana well and incorporate some air in it, as bananas have the capability to hold in air-bubbles..so the bread or cake will be moist ( thought..i would let you know :)...so that people like me who do not eat eggs can still make this yummy bread !

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  15. I love molasses in baked things and must, must, must try this! I think the combination of flavors sounds fantastic. I've yet to try that white whole wheat flour, but this is the perfect excuse to get some!

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  16. that's a beautiful loaf...and I beg to differ... I buy bananas with the specific intention of banana bread/muffins... its just that we end up consuming them... ALWAYS!!


    But this I will try this weekend for sure.

    Talking about the small bits... I still can't eat a dairy milk bar by myself... I have to eat one small little square at a time. The way I was taught!!

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  17. Nice recipe...What if we dont use peanut butter at all?

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  18. Nupur, I buy bananas with the intention of making banana bread. The problem is that by the time I get around to making the b-bread, they're...gone. Hungry husband is to blame. (these days I stick a post-it note with a request for permission to eat it. Sometimes it works).

    I love the adjustments you made to this recipe. Clever!

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  19. you know I considered taking part in this event. I looked at all my baking recipes.....and realized not one of them fit the bill! I'm so ashamed....but on the other hand I've heard way too many people say I need to gain weight...so maybe it all works out for the best in the end :)

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  20. lov the feel of the bread , Nupur..wish I cud have a slice of it straight away

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  21. The bread is awesome Nupur and the way you presented it. Very nice. Will try omitting the egg. Viji

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  22. Nupur!! that bread is so incredible!!so moist and so light!!!

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  23. Indosungod, it so happens that peanut butter is a pretty big part of this particular recipe and contributes a lot by way of flavor and texture. Do you like other nut butters? I am sure almond/ cashew/ hazelnut butter will all taste delicious instead of peanut butter. Perhaps nutella (the chocolate-hazelnut) spread might be worth a try too (a decadent varation, though!).
    Otherwise, there are certainly tons of banana bread recipes out there that don't use PB. Here, PB contributes a lot of the fat. Many other recipes use more eggs or some oil/ butter instead. If you do experiment, please do let us know if it worked so we can try it too :)

    Rajitha, what a great idea to beat air into the bananas! Thanks for sharing a great tip. I'm going to try the eggless version next time and update this post with the results :)

    Cathy, I love the white ww flour, and have almost finished my first 5-lb bag (although I hardly bake very much!). If you want to do without it, though, ww pastry flour was used in the Veg Times recipes, and I am fairly sure that a blend of AP flour and regular ww flour would work as well.
    Would love to know what baked goods you use molasses in :) I'll do some research on your blog!

    Raaga, reallY? see, we can never keep up with the pace at which bananas ripen. Me too, can't eat a whole choc bar ever. But my small bits is restricted to sweet things. I can eat huge quantities of savory stuff by myself!

    Anupreeta, it might turn out quite dry if you just skip the peanut butter. you might have to add some other nut butter/ oil/ eggs/ more bananas...something to make up for the fat/moistness/richness contributed by the peanut butter. You just have to experiment and see what happens!

    Mari, you are going to have to hide those bananas! Although that banana fragrance might give them away :) Thanks for stopping by!

    Nabeela,the truth is, these are once-in-a-while treats, so rich baked goods are just fine in moderation! It just so happened that this recipe is more suitable than most other baked sweet recipes for people who have medical reasons for watching their diets.
    And I do envy your metabolism, girl ;)!!

    A kitchen scientist..., it truly is tempting with that rich mix of flavors :)

    Viji, I think the eggless version will taste just fine!

    Padmaja, thanks :)

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  24. what a gorgeous cake. I also love cooking with molasses. It tastes lot better than raw and is a good source of IRON (that is for all us, meet non-eaters)

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  25. Hi Nupur, where do I post our article on environment. Should we be emailing it to you?? In any case i shall be surely sending one...Banana bread looks yummy and I am sure tastes too. I am certianly going to try it during diwali time when i go to kolhapur. In bombay I dont have an oven,,,

    cheers
    raakhee

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  26. Nupur, this is a lovely Banana Bread recipe...I am definately going to tyr it. Thanks!

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  27. I'm one of those people who loves raw bananas but has never been fond of cooked ones. Still, whenever I see a wonderful recipe like this one, I think it's time to try again!

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  28. Mmmmmm was this a Elvis fav too ?

    Nupur, I am so sorry but have an important assignment and won't be free until the 16th. So won't have anything till then, for Blog Action day

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  29. Oops , I just devoured 2 over ripe bananas un wantingly yesterday.. If i knew about this recipe then, atleast i would have had some yummy bread instead!

    Oh well there is always another time :)

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  30. Zlamushka, you are so right, molasses is a fantastic source of iron!

    Raakhee, the environment event is for people with blogs- they have to post the article on their own blogs. The idea is -thousands of people posting their thoughts on one theme on a single day to raise awareness.
    Since you don't have a blog, I'll be happy to post your thoughts here :)

    Neelam, do try it; it is delicious!

    Lydia, perhaps you don't like the sticky, soft texture of cooked bananas? In this bread, the banana is well-mixed with other ingredients, so you can tste the flavor but not the texture. You might like it :)

    Sandeepa, not a problem at all- I was just trying to spread the word about this event for those who happen to have the time to participate. Good luck with your assignment!
    And I almost named this loaf "Elvis Bread" :D so we think alike ;)

    Arati, yes, do try it next time :) If you find over-ripe bananas on your hand when you are too busy to bake, they can be frozen for use later when you have more time (just peel and freeze in an air-tight container).

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  31. what a gorgeous cake!! I have yet to develop a liking for peanut butter... maybe this can be a good idea to start!!

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  32. Nupur, you have no idea how happy you just made me. A heart healthy pb and banana bread? They are my favorite flavors! I'm printing this up right now. Many thanks!

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  33. That's a lovely rich dark molasses-y looking banana bread, Nupur! My daughter loves PB and bananas, so I will have to try this and let her help :) Thanks for the heart-healthy recipe link as well :)

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  34. Nupur, thanks I was afraid that minus PB it won't work, - Nutella was what I was having in mind too, going to give this a whirl this weekend, will keep you informed of how I fared :)

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  35. Hi Nupur
    I tried it on Sunday and it turned out to be really awsome. I did not use any egg and used maple syrup instead of mollasses. Everyone loved it.
    Thank you so much

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  36. I'm trying this today. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!

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