The Saving Banana Bread…

More and more you read about the perils of eating too much white sugar. And if you read the ingredients on food items at the grocery store, you’ll be amazed at the number of grams of sugar in most things you eat. I don’t know about you, but white sugar has been a staple in my diet for most of my life. And I will be the first to admit that I was never a nutritional expert. But the more I learn about cooking, the more I’ve become aware of things that were never part of my consciousness before.  So, why all of a sudden, is white sugar so bad for you (or at least it seems all of a sudden)? This got me thinking and so I did a little research. Is white sugar really bad? I looked at various articles and over and over saw the same message as the one below:

“Most foods containing sugar, especially refined white sugar, have very little nutritional value and are often referred to as “empty” calories. Beyond this, insulin is also secreted in proportion to the amount of sugar consumed. Since insulin is the hormone that instructs the body to store energy as fat, it’s a nemesis if it becomes too high. Repeatedly eating sugar throughout the day eventually leads to chronically high insulin and ultimately to insulin resistance.”

And that is why so many Americans develop Type II Diabetes as they get older. White sugar is probably not the only cause, but after pounding it for years and years I’m certain it makes a substantial contribution. And yet white sugar, or granulated sugar as it is widely known, has its purpose. Apart from being used as a sweetening agent, white sugar has other essential functions:

  • It delays the coagulation of the proteins in eggs
  • Promotes aeration and colour in baked products
  • Lowers the freezing point in ice cream preparation
  • Increases the shelf life of cakes

Plus, let’s face it, sugar just makes things taste so darn good. What would sugar cookies be without white sugar? What would chocolate cake be without white sugar? What would ice-cream be without white sugar? Sounds like a no-win situation here. But maybe, not.

Now I am not a proponent of getting rid of white sugar altogether. It would be interesting to see what my Christmas cookie baking tradition would be without it. And there’s nothing that tops having something sweet with your morning coffee. But I’ve learned over time that moderation in all things is the best way to maximize good health. So, with that in mind, how do you manage to be more moderate with your intake of white sugar and still feel like you’re eating something enjoyable? Are there sensible ways of diminishing the amount of white sugar you eat so that you don’t become insulin resistant?

I went on a mission and forayed onto Pinterest in search of a recipe for something that I usually make that can be made with no white sugar and still be as good as if it were. I stumbled on a recipe for banana bread that uses sugar free applesauce and honey instead of white sugar. Ah yes, banana bread, so good with a cup of coffee in the morning. I decided to begin my journey into baking without white sugar by making banana bread.

To my surprise it actually turned out quite good. Here in high altitude most food cooked in the oven takes longer than what is prescribed in the recipe. But for some reason baking is different. I alway have to be careful when I’m baking and baking times seem to vary from recipe to recipe. What I usually do now is to start looking at a baked items, specifically cakes and breads, about 5-10 minutes before the time written in the recipe. Cookies generally take the allotted time although sometimes that changes too. Needless to say, cooking or baking at high altitude is always an adventure and usually requires two to three tries before a new recipe is perfected. The recipe below is as was printed online. I baked my bread for only 55 minutes and it came out ok, but I think even baking it for 50 minutes would work and make the bread a little moister. That being said, the taste was great. I learned a lesson today. You can make things that taste good without the demon white sugar. Enjoy the recipe! (from 8 weeks to a better you recipes) 

Healthy Banana Bread

  • Servings: 1 Loaf
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 sugar free apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 3 mashed overripe bananas

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together applesauce and honey. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated over for 60-65 minutes (use your judgment here) until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.  
  • Banana Bread and Fresh Strawberries

    Banana Bread and Fresh Strawberries

  • South of the Border…

    I just knew Mexican food was not for me. Who in their right mind would want to burn their mouth with jalapeno’s? And refried beans looks like baby poop. And remember I was born and raised on good old potatoes – what is this rice stuff all of a sudden?

    Well, thank goodness I’ve changed my ways. I now love just about everything Mexican including a good mouth cleansing with some spicy jalapeno peppers! But somehow, Mexican food was something I ordered when I went out, never trying to make it at home… that is until the other day. I subscribe to a site called “One good thing by Jillee”. It’s a site that sends out blasts on all sorts of topics, from how to make homemade soap to getting out those nasty stains to how to fix those too tight shoes.

    Lo and behold, the other day I got an email from the site with a quick and easy recipe for sweet corn chicken enchiladas. It seems the author adapted it from a recipe she found on Lovely Little Snippets. Instead of making homemade enchilada sauce, she used store bought, and substituted rotisserie chicken instead of cooking the chicken herself.

    I was intrigued. So I decided to jump into the deep end of the pool and try them. To my surprise, they were rather good. The next time I try them I will add some jalapenos to the mixture to spice them up a little bit. I had some frozen chicken breasts so I did cook them to use in the recipe. I used a Mexican blend cheese inside the tortilla and for the last ten minutes added a queso cheese on top. But you can do whatever is easiest for you. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

    Chicken corn enchiladas

    Chicken corn enchiladas

    Chicken Enchiladas

    • Servings: 4-6
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Print

    INGREDIENTS:

    12 tortillas (the recipe called for corn but I used flour)

    2 cups shredded cooked chicken

    2 cups frozen sweet corn

    2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mexican blend and added a queso cheese on the top)

    1 large can of enchilada sauce (19 ounces)

    sour cream and guacamole (for serving if desired)

    DIRECTIONS:

    In a bowl, mix the shredded chicken, corn and 1 cup of cheese. Pour approximately 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute to soften. (30 second did the trick for the flour tortillas). Fill them with the chicken and corn mixture and roll them up. Place each rolled tortilla seam side down in the casserole dish. Repeat with all the tortillas and then pour the remaining enchilada sauce on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and top with cheese. Put it back in the oven just until the cheese melts and then take it out and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. It will be VERY hot. Garnish with sour cream and guacamole.

    This makes divine left overs as well. Try it, and let me know what you think.

    Stir Fry Beef with Vegetables and Pea Pods…

    I loved my my mother dearly, but let’s face it she was right up there when the world’s worst cook award was being passed out. I guess it simply was the fact that she did not have time, especially when she went back to work full time. My father was runner up for the award as he hardly cooked a day in his life, that was woman’s work you know. So I grew up with a bland palate consisting of meat (always overcooked), peas, corn and potatoes. Yep, that was about it.

    During my career I too never had time to cook. Thank goodness my husband was adept in the kitchen. And boy did he have trouble moving me away from the staples I grew up with. And eating any type of ethnic food, well that was just not acceptable. So how did it all change.

    Well, the Food Network for one – once I started watching it I was hooked. I learned so much watching those shows that no on ever taught me. Then once I retired, I finally had the time to explore cooking. I took cooking lessons, I experimented with various dishes, I started working at Crate and Barrel where a lot of their mainstay merchandising relates to dining and entertaining. And I became a student of the art.

    Now I am not saying I am a master chef by any means, but I really enjoy the process. I enjoy learning about different foods, learning new techniques, experimenting with recipes. Who would ever believe that. It’s fun when you can accomplish something new and interesting in the kitchen. At least for me…

    So, every once in a while in my blog I will be posting recipes. I hope that you try them and give me feedback about them. And if you have some you want to share, join the party – the more the merrier.

    Today I posting my stir fry beef and pea pods recipe. It cooks up in 15 minutes or less and it is fabulous. Most of the work involved in the recipe is the chopping and dicing (which I like to do, I find it therapuetic).  Enjoy, and please let me know what you think.

    Stir Fry Beef and Pea Pods

    • Servings: 4
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Print

    INGREDIENTS:

    • Flank steak or beef tenderloin
    • Beef broth
    • Soy Sauce
    • Vermouth
    • Baby Bella Mushrooms
    • Pepper (red or green)
    • Roma Tomatoes
    • Pea Pods (fresh or frozen, I prefer fresh)
    • Garlic (I-2 cloves)
    • Cornstarch, 3 TBS total
    • Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil

    BEEF MARINADE:

    Flank Steak or Beef Tenderloin (if beef tenderloin, marinate for only ½ hour, if flank steak the longer the better, I found 4 hrs. minimum to be the best)

    • 1TB cornstarch
    • 2 TB soy sauce
    • 4TB vermouth

    DIRECTIONS:

    Chop vegetables and garlic– a bigger chop for vegetables stands up better to stir frying (this can be done well in advance)

    Heat wok. Add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom. (I use an electric wok so it heats up very quickly)

    Add beef and stir fry until almost at desired doneness. (We most often use beef tenderloin so I like to have a little pink in the meat – with flank steak I would cook longer)

    Remove beef and set aside, cover with foil to keep warm

    Mix together:

    • 1 cup beef broth
    • 2TB soy sauce
    • 2TB cornstarch (make sure cornstarch is completely absorbed by the liquid)

    Add mixture to wok and let simmer for a short time (1/2 minute to 1 minute)

    Add peppers and mushrooms

    Cook until almost crisp tender, 3-5 minutes

    Add tomatoes and pea pods, cook for about 1 minute

    Add garlic and cook until fragrant (30 seconds to minute)

    Add beef back into the mixture and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

    Serve over rice

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