Saturday, December 4, 2010

Banana Walnut Bread

I've had a huge craving for banana bread all week and a snowy Saturday morning is the perfect time to whip up a loaf. I seldom buy bananas to eat plain, but I can't resist a piece of banana bread. I've been obsessed pumpkin baked goods lately and it's time for a change of pace. My favorite part about the Christmas season are all the wonderful cookies, cakes, candies, and breads and I'd bake something new nearly every night if I had enough people to feed with my culinary creations. While I love all manner of treats, I still like to make them as healthy as possible, using more nutritious substitutions when they don't detract (and perhaps even enhance) the flavor and texture of the final product. Many people think that banana bread is healthy just because it has bananas, but fail to think about the often copious amounts of butter and sugar and the refined white flour. This bread is made with whole wheat pastry flour and flaxseed meal with a sprinkling of heart-healthy walnuts and is great as breakfast, a snack, or even dessert (I prefer a slice with tea before bed). In a season of constant indulgences, it's good to have some treats that aren't a nutritional black hole.

Banana Walnut Bread
adapted from Cooking Light

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until combined.

3. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through ground allspice). Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended. Fold chopped walnuts gently into batter and pour batter into pan. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool completely.

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