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Monday, March 14, 2011

Comfort Food

Having not felt well for a couple of weeks now, as I shared in a previous post so won't re-hash, but when I do not feel well, my mind instantly goes to comfort foods, what will make me feel better on the deepest level. One of those is banana bread ( will share recipe in a bit ) . My entire life I have related comfort to food, not the greatest for weight, but certainly for my soul. It started early on. As a young child I was often watched by my Grandma on my Dad's side and as her house was not real exciting, cooking was what went on. My Grandpa, her husband had from what I heard cooked in the army and then ran a restaurant for a number of years after the war. So cooking is what they knew and they did it with love. I can remember cinnamon apples made with red hots, creamy noodles ( aka white sauce over elbow macaroni) , fried grits with maple syrup, waffles of every type you can imagine. Grandpa cooked home-made tamales and the list goes on and on...even simple things like peanut butter with syrup on crackers was a comfort food you only got at Grandma and Grandpa's house. I always felt warm, comfy and loved when I was with them.

L to R :Me, don't laugh it was the very early 80's & hair was in a pony tale, it was not a mullet I swear!! My Grandma Cockrell, my Mom, and my dear Uncle Harold
 Later as I became older, they lived on the same property as us and I for a time stayed at their house till ours was built, and always I woke up to a hot breakfast, and there was always a wonderful snack of cakes, cookies, hot fresh bread, fruit tarts and crumbles awaiting me when I would come home. Then when my Grandpa's brother moved onto the property if I was having a bad day it was grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, crackers with cheddar, and ice cream...all comfort foods, and all foods that cheered me up, made me feel safe, happy and loved...and well brought comfort when my childhood and teen years were hitting so many rough and stressful times.

So back to me not feeling well and the banana bread. This is a bread that my Grandparents used to make on a regular basis. The upside it is very healthy, no salt to speak of, since Grandma was on a salt free diet, low fat, that is my choice, as they used oil, but I use a low fat margarine. And there is fiber as you use a whole wheat flour. I also add in loads of spices, and like this time added in diced apple, but anything from raisins to pineapple chopped up can work..really any other fruit works and so great way to use up the bits and pieces in the kitchen fruit bowl. So here is the recipe :

Whole Wheat Banana Bread
2 cups whole wheat flour 
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar ( splenda works fine, I use brown sugar for a richer taste)
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas ( I used almost 2 cups worth
1/4 cup low fat margarine softened 
1 Tsp vanilla ...when adding extra spices like me , add in a bit more for moisture
1/3 cup chopped walnuts 
I used two apples diced
raisins and other fruits can be added
spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and even alspice can be added...just add that extra vanilla.

Cooking Steps:
Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar stir to combine and mix well. 
Add banana, softened low fat marg. and vanilla, stir till ingredients are moistened. At this point add in extras and stir to combine. I also added raw sugar over the top so that it had crunch and sparkle!

Coat an 8x4 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.Spread the mixture evenly in the pan, bake in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or just until a wooden toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the loaf.
****Now here is where I break from the norm in a big way!!! I took the bread mixture and I put it into muffin tins!! I was able to bake for half the time. I baked for 15 minutes, still wet, so baked for 10 more minutes and perfect! Of course this depends on how full you fill the muffins. I made 12 muffins , and the recipe says makes 16 slices in a bread pan, it is all up to you, you have options!

Remove the bread from the oven, and let sit for 10 minutes. invert the loaf onto the wire rack, turn right side up ( same thing happens with muffins) and cool before slicing and serving ( though I did not wait that long, mine was still warm and I spread a bit of butter on it !)

Here is the photos of mine....

All set up to go...
The extras !

What it looks like all mixed up
In the muffin pans , all sprayed with butter spray, sprinkled raw sugar on top and ready to go!
Fresh and hot out of the oven!!!
Yummy and ready to eat!! Just needs a pat of margarine

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