Bakes · Brunch · vegetarian

Banana Walnut Bread

Freshly baked, overnight or lightly toasted – banana bread make a beautiful, classic brunch or afternoon snack that can be served on its own or with a dollop of ricotta or honey.

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That said, bananas and nuts are perhaps two of the most misunderstood foods especially in the weight management realms. There’s plenty of umm’s and errr’s around these foods by dieters and health gurus, even though there’s plenty of scientific evidence in favour of adding them to your day for healthful benefits. Let’s munch a little further to find out why you should go bananas for bananas, and nuts for walnuts!

Bananas

Bananas are an odd bunch – they are fruits but are treated like carbs. However, there is some truth behind widespread attitude. A medium-sized banana (around 100g) provides around 20 grams of carbohydrates, which is similar to a thick slice of wholemeal bread or 1/3 cup of steamed rice (but 3 times the fibre!).

1. Better carbs

The high carb content of banana is explained by its high starch content. Starch is the form of energy storage for plants, kind of like how we store our energy (glucose) as glycogen in our body cells. When fruits are not yet ripe, they have plenty of starch, which then converts into simple sugars – what we would know as fructose and glucose – which makes the ripe fruit taste nice and sweet! Unlike other fruits, bananas have a relatively higher starch content.

2. Nutritious powerhouse

Bananas are full of essential nutrients – potassium, phosphorus and vitamin C – making them the perfect pre- or post-workout snack or a quick breakfast on the go when combined with a small tub of plain yoghurt and cinnamon (mmmm…).

A tasty experiment…

Peel a banana, place on a square sheet of foil and sprinkle with cinnamon. Wrap loosely in foil and bake in oven at 200°C for 15mins.

You will get a deliciously caramelised banana-cinnamon flavoured custard – and zero added sugars! Plus it counts as 1 out of 2 of your daily serve of fruits. Double yay!

Walnuts

1. “Full of fat” but NOT “fattening”

There’s a common misconception that nuts are “fattening” and eating nuts will make you gain weight. In fact, the exact opposite is true – people who regularly eat nuts are less likely to gain weight than those who don’t eat nuts!

Yes – nuts are “full of fat”, with 50-75% of their weight being fats, but these are heart-healthy fats and NOT the saturated fat that ramps up our cardiovascular disease risks and packs on belly fat. Gram for gram, walnuts have the most polyunsaturated fats than other nuts, which also improves brain function as well as heart health.

2. Antioxidant booster in a nutshell 

Walnuts have the highest polyphenol content of all nuts – polyphenols are an antioxidant that improves your lipid profile and cardiovascular health. How? The antioxidants act to reduce the oxidative processes in your body (which releases stored fats into your blood and leads to atherosclerosis, or stiff arteries!).

3. Hearty handful 

Walnuts, like most nuts, are densely packed with energy (because of their high fat content) and increase your satiety (how full you feel while/after eating) and your resting metabolic rate after your meal. This means that you feel fuller and eat less overall, AND your burn off most of the kilojoules too!

That said, nuts are still high in kilojoules so keeping overeating them will still add up to your overall kilojoule intake – so enjoy a handful of nuts a day as part of a balanced diet and reap the benefits of a happier heart and waistline!

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Enjoy!



Serves: 12 slices

Costs: $4.55 ($0.40 per slice)

Cooking time: 1 hour


Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup wholemeal plain flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp canola spread, reduced-salt varieties
  • 3/4 cup low-fat milk (or plant-based milk alternative, see Notes)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 (very) ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Let’s get cooking!

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line a loaf tin with baking paper, allowing the sides of paper to hang out.
  2. Sift flours and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl. Make a well or dent in the centre of the flour mixture.
  3. Melt the spread and mix into milk (luke warm milk mixes well). Pour milk and eggs into the well of the dry ingredients and fold in until just combined (some streaks of flour is fine). Mash two of the three bananas, add to the mixture with the walnuts and fold in.
  4. Pour mixture into the prepared tin. Tap tin lightly on the benchtop to release any air bubbles and smooth the top. Cut the remaining banana in half lengthways and press banana halves into the top of the mixture.
  5. Bake banana bread for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer through the centre comes out clean. Check halfway and rotate the tin. Once done, stand in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wired rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature on its own or with your favourite teatime sides. Tastes great toasted too!

Notes:

  • Check the nutritional information panel of plant-based milks for at least 120mg of calcium per 100mL
  • For the bananas: the riper they are, the better! The starch inside the banana is converted into sugars in the ripening process, so you get all the natural sweetening effects and less need for added sugars. If this recipe doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth, you can add up to 1/4 cup brown sugar.

Nutritional information:

Per serve
Energy (kJ) 792
Protein (g) 5.4
Total fat (g) 8.4
 – Saturated fat (g) 1.3
Carbohydrate (g) 21.2
 – Sugars (g) 4.4
Fibre (g) 3.8
Sodium (mg) 171.7
Calcium (mg) 49.4
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