Last Friday my recently widowed Nana, Isaac’s Great-Grandmother, came over to spend the day. We didn’t do anything super adventurous – keeping up with Isaac in our apartment is adventure enough for the 80+ set. We did eat some nice meals. I figured I’d take the opportunity to spoil my Nana on the food front (frittata, lobster rolls, etc). While my time practicing as a clinical dietitian may have been short, the facts about the state of nutrition among certain populations of society were cemented into my heart and brain. Seniors have a hard time with meal prep and eating as is, never mind after they’ve lost their significant other and no longer feel they have a reason to cook real meals, or lack the skills and/or emotional energy necessary to shop and cook for one.
In my perfect world my Nana would live up the street and could choose to eat with my family whenever she felt like it. Unfortunately we live 30 minutes apart and I am still in the exhausted trenches of raising an energetic young child. Fortunately my Nana is better off than many senior citizens when it comes to her social network, ability to shop and cook, and general outlook of life. I am going to try to be better about seeing her and feeding her as often as I can and after last week’s visit I now know that she’s crazy about banana bread, so yesterday Isaac and I made two loaves, one for us and one to share.
Banana bread freezes well, makes a great gift for family or friends, and since it takes an hour to bake, I figure it is only logical to always make a double batch, make that hour count! As such, I’ve written this recipe for two loaves. True to its name this is a basic recipe, feel free to add cinnamon and ground ginger, or swap out the buttermilk and one of the eggs for yogurt. Banana bread is wicked forgiving which allows for experimentation.
Basic Banana Bread
Makes 2 standard loaves
1 ¾ cups Whole-grain pastry flour
1 ¾ cups All-purpose unbleached flour
4 ½ teaspoons Baking powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Vegan baking margarine or butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup Safflower oil
1 ¼ cup Sugar
1 each Zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup Buttermilk
3 each Eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons Vanilla
4 heaping cups Mashed banana (I use frozen and mash with my pastry cutter)
1-2 cups Add-ins (chocolate chips, walnuts, cinnamon chips, whatever)
1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Coat two loaves pans with baking spray plus flour.
2. Sift together flours, baking powder and salt.
3. In a large bowl, blend margarine, oil, sugar and lemon zest until creamy (will be a little chunky and that’s okay).
4. Add the buttermilk, beaten eggs, vanilla and banana to the creamed fat and sugar.
5. Add the flour mixture to the liquid ingredients in 3 stages, mixing gently after each addition. Fold in any add-ins and pour into prepared loaf pans.
6. Bake 60 – 65 minutes, rotating halfway through if your oven tends to cook unevenly.
What are some dishes, savory and sweet, that you like to make for elderly family and friends. Please, share in the comments!