I’ve always found the term Banana Bread to be a peculiar one. I’m not really sure what ingredient in this sweet cake-like delight gives it a “bread” classification (then again, Shortbread isn’t exactly something we use to make sandwiches with either). It seems that describing this treat as a bread, possibly makes it appear healthier and more sophisticated. Downgrading it to a “banana cake” just makes it sound more kid-like!

Now cafes today seem to have banana bread on the menu, left right and centre. Banana cake drizzled with honey and mascarpone for breakfast, banana bread as a side with a coffee for afternoon tea, or banana bread with butter for dessert.

One slice of banana bread (obviously depending on how thick it is) can have as many kilojoules (or more) than a chicken and salad sandwich.  However banana bread is predominantly made of flour, bananas and added sugar (plus some form of fat, be it from butter or unsaturated fat sources); As opposed to the sandwich which will have fibre, protein and minimal fat, leading to you feeling far more satisfied for the hours to come following its consumption.

With this in mind, next time you are out and are about to select a banana bread as a “healthy” snack option, think twice. Do not be fooled by the 98% fat free versions either, these may have minimal fat, however they are still very high in added sugars and will have a high GI (quick release of energy) which is not beneficial for your health or weight.

Having said all that, banana bread or banana cake recipes, can be modified at home to create an enjoyable healthy dessert, as long as it is portion controlled.

Here is a recipe for Banana Cake that is extremely delicious, easy to prepare (for anyone that doesn’t like baking – do not be alarmed!), and is the perfect way to use up overly ripe bananas. http://www.kidspot.com.au/best-recipes/Cakes-&-Baking+20/Banana-cake-recipe+500.htm. Admittedly it is a kids recipe – which just confirms that it requires minimal baking skills.

Before I experiment with recipes, I usually like to try out the original version first. This one worked out really well. However, after trialing a few different additions and substitutions I have decided on using half whole meal flour/half white flour. Whole meal flour adds some more dietary fibre and texture to the cake. You can also switch some of the flour for Barley and Oats 1st. This adds fibre and lowers the GI of the end product.

I also use half the amount of butter and replaced the other half with apple sauce, to reduce the fat (and in particular, saturated fat) content of the cake. The sugar content can also easily be reduced, since the ripe bananas provide a lot of sweetness, as well as the apple sauce. Finally, I like to add walnuts or pecans, and sometimes even apples (or any other fruit) for a more colourful cake.

 Have a go, and decide which version you like the best. Once you’ve settled on your own banana cake (bread?), you can name it after yourself! And if you have any idea why we call it banana bread, please let us know.

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