My children's school has some strict guidelines about what constitutes a healthy lunch. These are not complicated guidelines, in fact for some they are really just common sense. No junk food: actually, no pop, candy or chips on the school grounds (of course, this gets complicated when we host a Family Fun Fair, but we have managed to overcome that as well). And the rest is simple: some healthy snacks (like fruit, veggies, cheese, yogurt), a sandwich or some leftovers like soup or spaghetti. Once, I sent (for snack) some mini wheats in the thermos and a container of milk to be added. My rule following son came home that day and told me that he "could not bring cereal for a snack again, that his teacher had told him that those were breakfast food."...Well, yes, they were. But then so was yogurt, and fruit and even pizza in our house! I explained to him that many foods that we pack in our lunches are also things that we like to eat for breakfast, but that if it bothered him then I wouldn't send it again. "But did you like it?" "Oh yes, it was yummy." Huh, I had a little guy at daycare whose mum asked me what I thought about her son eating spaghetti for breakfast. I just said, hey as long as its not from the candy aisle, its probably a pretty good way to start the day when you are four.
Some of the other things that have had a less than great reception in the lunch box (and I do not mean by the eater of said lunch) are things like pancakes and homemade chocolate chip cookies. But the one thing that always seems to pass the inspection is banana bread. Both with the teachers and the eater of the lunch (and the gang gathered round the daycare snack table and the teenagers after school). When the kids were in pre-school, I used to send it for "birthday" celebrations and whenever there was some sort of potluck snack day. I have sent it to the grade one class at my children's school more than twice (they both had the same grade one teacher). One of the tricks with it is that if you substitute a bit of the flour for cocoa powder, you give it a chocolatey lift without adding fat or sugar, and the kids are all over it because it is now a "treat".
I thought that I would share the recipe here with you. Someone once told me that when you alter a recipe from its original form, you make it your own. Well, I have altered this one so much that it barely resembles its original form, so I guess it really is mine now. The original recipe came 20 plus years ago from a Canadian Living cookbook, perhaps the first Canadian living cookbook.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray or grease one 5"x9" loaf pan, or two 4"x8" loaf pans. Set aside.
1 cup mashed banana (approx 2 medium bananas)
3/4 cup brown sugar.
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt (Greek style is ideal, do not use no-fat yogurt, but soy works okay)
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or whole spelt flour)...for a chocolatey taste, use 1 1/4 cups flour, and 1/4 cup cocoa powder, the regular kind, not dutch-processed
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips, or blueberries or pecans (all are optional or create a combination)
In the bowl of standing mixer (or a large mixing bowl) mix mashed bananas and sugar until well blended (about 2 minutes), add vegetable oil, yogurt and eggs. Beat until well combined.
In separate medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Add to wet mixture and beat just until combined (1 minutes or 30-35 strokes or the spoon). Pour into prepared pans, bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes depending on pan size. When a toothpick (or cake tester) inserted in the center, comes out clean, remove from oven and place on wire rack (in pan) to cool. Remove from pan after 15-20 minutes and allow to cool completely on wire rack before slicing. If it doesn't all get eaten in the first evening, it can be wrapped and will keep for about 3 days...Ours never last that long.Can be frozen for up to one month if well wrapped (I use parchment and then put it into a freezer container). This recipe doubles well, if you have lots of bananas to use up. I usually make two, so there is one to eat and one to put into lunches!
Please feel free to share this recipe with anyone who loves banana bread!