A taste of the tropics

I don't know how to begin this other than to say, "I baked! Woo! Come and git it!", which could mean I desperately need to get out more often or I've been listening to entirely too much Gretchen Wilson lately. Next I'll bust into work muttering that I'm here for the party while rocking a pair of cowboy boots and a denim mini, and nobody wants that.

I wonder about myself too sometimes.

I don't remember when I first ate banana bread. I might as well have been in the womb. All I know is that everyone has a recipe for it, much like its more refined cousin, zucchini bread, and most people like it well enough. Growing up, I ate mine slathered with margarine. It was great for breakfast or a mid-day snack, and up until yesterday I hadn't had any in far too long.

Now listen: I am not, unlike some people, the biggest banana lover. I like bananas, sure -- whipped with milk, sliced into a cold bowl of cereal or with toast and peanut butter. But there they wallow away at the bottom of the fruit bowl whenever I buy them, their skins having turned as brown as paper lunchbags by Friday morning. I sense it's a bit of travesty to confess this, but there you have it.

Armed with a loaf pan and several flours, I went to work on adapting Joy's lovely recipe for healthy banana bread. I'm not sure what I expected, but what I got surpassed my expectations. The loaf is slightly sweet from the brown sugar, with tiny pockets of moistness from the dates and a crispness from the oats and coconut. This version is delicate and falls away in large pieces with a gentle nudge, but that's not a problem in my book. This bread is delicious -- a party in your mouth, perhaps, but you may need to double check with Gretchen on that one. As for me, it's about as close to a real, tropical vacation as I'm going to get right about now.

Banana Bread with Dates and Coconut
Adapted from Joy the Baker

Yields about 10-12 slices

1/4 cup pure cornstarch
1/3 cup quinoa flour
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tsp plain yogurt (not nonfat)
1 large egg, gently beaten
2 egg whites, beaten
3 large ripe bananas
1 cup uncooked rolled oats

1/2 cup roughly chopped dates (optional)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 350F and grease a standard-sized loaf pan (I always use unsalted butter for this.)

In a small bowl, mash the bananas until smooth and add in yogurt, egg and egg whites. Mix to combine.

In a larger bowl, combine all dry ingredients -- constarch, the flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder, oats, nd ground cinnamon -- and whisk to combine. Slowly add the wet ingredients and (you guessed it) continue to mix together. When the wet ingredients are well incorporated, add in the chopped dates and coconut. Stir again. Expect the mixture to be fairly thick. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the bread has almost doubled in size. Allow to cool in the pan for at least ten minutes, preferably longer, and remove. Let cool completely before slicing.


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