When life makes you bananas…make banana bread!

A view from my morning run:
IMG_2919
Every runner remembers their first real run – the exhilarating moment when you realize how far you are really able to go, and when you realize how addicting it is to feel the pavement under your feet, the wind in your hair, and the rhythm  of your breathing as the miles melt away.  You’re already thinking about your next run by the time you’re done.

These days, after injuring my hip a few years ago, every run feels like a gift.  I don’t get caught up in races or PRs or comparing distances and times because I would risk  injury and possibly not be able to run for many more years, which is precisely what I hope to do.  Instead, I’ve learned to listen to my body and enjoy the fact that I was simply “born to run,” as Christopher McDougall’s novel is aptly titled.  I am now a better, faster, and lighter runner than I have ever been!

I run when I’m happy, when I’m sad, and when I’m stressed.  In all my moods, even when I didn’t initially feel like running, I finish my run with a load off my mind and heart.

Perhaps that’s why the boyfriend asked, “Hon, what’s on your mind?” the moment I recapped my day and told him I had run and baked.

People who know me know that I bake when I have a lot on my mind.  It’s a bit of an escape, to soothe my mind by using my hands to measure, weigh, mix … a little bit of this, a little bit of that.  And before you know it, the house smells incredible and you have something to share with any willing taster! But I also bake when I’m happy, when I have time, when I have the ingredients, and when I’m taken with a recipe and can’t stop thinking about it for days.

He needn’t have worried quite  that much.
IMG_3022 If you have too many bananas around (it happens!), this recipe for Nutella Banana Bread from Cooking Light comes together quickly and is a crowd-pleaser – I work in an office full of nutritionists, and not a crumb remained! You CAN be healthy and indulge (a little). The bananas provide fiber and potassium and make the bread naturally moist and sweet, requiring less fat and sugar overall.  I wouldn’t change a thing about this recipe, although I don’t usually do the chocolate drizzle/nut garnish.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Banana Bread

Yield: Serves 16 (serving size: 1 slice)

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons chocolate-hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
3 tablespoons plus
1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 medium ripe bananas, sliced
2 large eggs
6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole buttermilk
Baking spray with flour (such as Baker’s Joy)
1/4 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Combine chocolate-hazelnut spread and 1 teaspoon oil in a microwave-safe dish; microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds or until melted. Stir. Combine 3 tablespoons oil, butter, brown sugar, and banana in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beating at low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined. Scrape half of batter into a 9 x 5-inch metal loaf pan coated with baking spray, and top with chocolate-hazelnut spread mixture. Spread remaining batter over chocolate mixture. Using a wooden pick, swirl batter. Sprinkle batter with hazelnuts.
4. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread; cool on wire rack.
5. Place bittersweet chocolate in a microwave-safe dish; microwave at high for 30 seconds. Drizzle bread with chocolate; let stand until set.

Nutrition data: Calories: 193 Fat: 9.7g Saturated fat: 3g Monounsaturated fat: 3.5g Polyunsaturated fat: 1.2g Protein: 3.4g Carbohydrate: 24.6g Fiber: 1.2g Cholesterol: 30mg Iron: 1mg Sodium: 186mg Calcium: 28mg

Another great option for breakfast on the run (and too many bananas) are these whole wheat banana muffins:

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins (adapted from here):
Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups whole-wheat flour (I used whole white wheat flour)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbl of milk
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 very ripe bananas, peeled (the riper they are the sweeter they’ll be)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a muffin pan with paper or silicone liners and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl mash the two bananas together with the back of a fork.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder.
  5. Add eggs, butter, canola oil, milk, and syrup to the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.
  6. Fold in mashed bananas.
  7. Divide batter carefully between the prepared muffin tins.
  8. Bake until they begin to brown on top and a toothpick comes clean when inserted in the center, about 20 to 22 minutes.

photo

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