Vancouverite Banana Bread

Banana Bread

I work with some seriously health(-freakish) people. Consider this:

1) Vancouver is the healthiest city in Canada (actually, the Vancouver suburb of Richmond is, and us Richmondites also have the longest life expectancy in the world, at 83.4 yr, beating the 81.4 yr of the Japanese). Walk down a Vancouver street and you will see a very health-conscious, yoga-loving population.

2) People at our research institute in general: Bike to work. Sit on exercise balls at their desks. If not wearing lululemon, then it’s MEC (and they actually do do yoga or ski). A lot of soy milk and low fat cream cheese in the fridge. Always a vegetarian option.

3) People in my lab are particularly healthy, compared to other people in other labs: People next door are all candy/chocoholics. Their lab has a drawer full of candy and chocolate that gets opened more than our incubators, and there isn’t a time when one of them is not grabbing and nibbling on something from it. A box of Smarties could last over a week outside our lab. When we eat lunch you will see a balanced proportion of grains, vegetables, and lean protein – food pyramid style.


Anyway, so our lab has group meetings on Monday mornings, and the tradition is we each take turns bringing in food. The trend of late has been the same combination of healthy fruit (usually grapes) plus some unhealthy sugary pastries. But most people don’t really eat, and that box of croissants or muffins will be left largely untouched. Because most of us freaks are… *sigh* just too healthy, and won’t eat that kind of trans-fat laden, sugary stuff. (A few I think are just picky.) Even though the food that’s served often just sits there, little effort has gone into changing this trend. It’s also hard for a “breakfast” meeting as you can’t just buy chips and candy (not that people will touch those, either). And for all the years I have been here, nobody has ever made anything to feed for group meetings. My lab is just not cooks and bakers and culinary adventurers that way. So you can imagine it’s not the most encouraging environment which you bring your culinary experiments to: not only are my labmates picky about what they eat (and thus bad guinea pigs), but it also makes you the sole and resident cook if you’re the only one who likes to showcase your food.

It was my turn to feed yesterday, and being unlazy about food (and generally pissed that there really isn’t a point to buying food if nobody is going to touch it), I decided to make something that is good for a breakfast meeting. So I made a loaf of banana breadWhole wheat. Low fat. Reduced sugar. Good for your heart, good for your blood sugar, wholesome, lots of fibre, homemade goodness all round. And wow, great guinea pigs, everybody had a piece! And they were eager to try (or at least they hid their labmate-made-it-feel-obligated-to-try-faces well)! Score! Is it because it’s homemade and healthy? Or because it was warm and looked and smelled inviting? Who knows?! I thought it was pretty well recieved and disappeared in good time. N, who thought it was a coffee cake at first, said it was “very moist and excellent”. But to me it seemed more bready than it was moist-cakey. Like it wasn’t dry, it was still slightly moist but held its shape well and wasn’t sticky or goopy. S said she prefers it this way. I think next time I might use more bananas and less flour. I used half the sugar a recipe like this usually calls for, but it was definitely sweet enough.




Recipe follows…


Healthy Vancouverite Banana Bread

(makes 1 loaf, serves about 10)



2 1/4C ripe banana, mashed (about 3.5 bananas for me)

3T applesauce, unsweetened

2 eggs, 1 egg white, beaten.

1/2C plain yogurt

3/4t vanilla


2C whole wheat flour

1/2C brown sugar

1.5t cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

1.5t baking powder

3/4t baking soda

3/4t salt 



1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 8×5 inch loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

2. Mix wet ingredients. Mix dry ingredients. Combine and mix until flour is just incorporated. Do not overmix.

3. Pour into loaf pan and bake about 50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

4. Remove from oven and cool about 5 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Serve as soon as possible, but can keep well if wrapped tightly in plastic.



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