Friday, September 12, 2008

Light Banana Bread: I Think I Got It

Cooking Light Magazine has been a consistent, usually reliable resource for the recipes on this site. With a few flagrant exceptions, their dishes have ranged from edible to outstanding – especially the desserts, the flavors of which are oases of indulgence in the arid, dusty landscape of my (many) diet(s).

Here’s the thing, though: CL’s portion sizes? Can be pretty ridiculous sometimes. In order to make a dish seem lighter, they’ll often increase the number of cake wedges, lemon bars, and cobbler scoops one can pull from a standard-issue baking pan. In other words, instead of eight medium-sized, 333-calorie slices of pumpkin pie, you get 12 tiny, 222-calorie slices. It’s kind of cheating.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand part of healthy eating is portion control. We (especially us Americans) have to learn to identify human-appropriate slabs of food, as opposed to those large enough to feed a sperm whale. But still - it’s unreasonable to ask for 16 individual brownies out of an 8x8 dish. Dieters won’t be pleased, and non-dieters will burn you for sacrilege.

Take Mom’s Banana Bread f’r instance. According to 132 reviewers, there’s no arguing with the taste. They claim it’s moist, banana-y, and delicious, and even better with spices and walnuts. Here’s the catch, though: CL tells us to cut a 9-inch loaf into 20 pieces. Sure, the calories will be reduced, but each slice will be less than 1/2-inch thick - barely enough to keep it from falling apart.

Still, the reviews for the MBB are so glowing, I wanted to see if I could lighten it further without sacrificing the flavor. And you know what? I think I got it. With these revisions, each loaf can be cut into 12 pieces at 164 calories and 2.7 grams of fat each (or, for you WW folks out there, 3 points). And? AND? It will still taste like normal, unaltered banana bread. Whee!

Ultimately, I dig Cooking Light and won’t stop frequenting the website, but’d love to see them address the portion issue. It’d attract more viewers, I think, or at least be less frustrating for their current ones. Readers? Opinions?

P.S. Here’re the changes, just in case you wanna compare. To bring down the calorie count, I:
  • reduced the sugar from 1 cup to 2/3rds of a cup, saving about 260 calories.
  • reduced the butter from ¼ cup to 2-1/2 tablespoons, saving about 150 calories and 17 grams of fat
  • reduced the sour cream by a tablespoon, and switched it from low-fat to non-fat, saving 45 calories and 6 grams of fat
  • reduced the skim milk by a tablespoon, saving … okay, only about 8 calories.
  • added cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dash of vanilla extract.
Banana Bread
Makes 12 servings
Adapted from Cooking Light.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
2-1/2 T butter, softened
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 4 bananas)
3 T skim milk
3 T fat-free sour cream or vanilla yogurt
2 large egg whites
½ t vanilla extract
Cooking spray

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat loaf pan with cooking spray.

2) In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

3) In a different large mixing bowl OR stand mixer bowl, combine sugar and butter. "Beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended." Stop beater. Add banana, milk, sour cream, and egg whites. Resume beating until well combined.

4) Pour flour mixture into banana mixture and beat until everything is well-blended.

5) Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake 60 or 70 minutes, or until loaf passes the toothpick test. (Insert a toothpick in the middle of the bread. If it comes out clean, you're golden.) Remove from oven. Let sit for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Pry bread from pan and let it cool totally on that same wire rack. For best flavor, wrap in tin foil and let sit overnight.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
164 calories, 2.7 g fat, $0.17

2/3 cup sugar: 515 calories, 0 g fat, $0.21
2-1/2 T butter, softened: 255 calories, 28.8 g fat, $0.15
1 2/3 cups mashed ripe banana (about 4 bananas): 200 calories, 0.7 g fat, $0.96
3 T skim milk: 18 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.05
3 T fat-free sour cream or vanilla yogurt: 31 calories, 0 g fat, $0.14
2 large egg whites: 34 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.22
½ t vanilla extract: 1 calorie, 0 g fat, $0.06
2 cups all-purpose flour: 910 calories, 2.5 g fat, $0.18
1 teaspoon baking soda: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
1/2 teaspoon salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
½ teaspoon cinnamon: 3 calories, 0 g fat, $0.02
¼ teaspoon nutmeg: 3 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.01
TOTAL: 1970 calories, 32.5 g fat, $2.02
PER SERVING (TOTAL/12): 164 calories, 2.7 g fat, $0.17


Post a Comment

Related Post