I grew up with health-conscious parents. In the 90s, this meant trying to surreptitiously eat my tofu-and-sprouts-on-whole-wheat sandwich with a side of carrot sticks. My classmates all seemed to uniformly have fake bologna and American cheese on white bread, with all sorts of delicious-looking packaged sides that I knew had no nutritional content, but looked tasty all the same. This meant a lot of lunch periods trying to explain that sprouts were not grass but actual food.
Despite the ribbing at school, I enjoyed Friday nights at home with my family. While I took clothes down from the drying rack, my brother ran banana peels out to the compost. Then my dad would either read out loud to us or get out his guitar and sing hymns. Gradually, the scent of banana bread would draw us all into the kitchen. Still now, the taste of banana bread warm from the oven tastes like Sabbath to me. There would usually be an extra loaf or two packed away as gifts or for the dessert table at potlucks. I would sometimes see my friends take a piece and secretly think that they didn’t know they were getting a serving of wheat germ and banana, among other healthy ingredients.
After years of planning to rebel, I surprised myself as a student at Pacific Union College by preferring the vegan bar for lunch more often than not. Then came a second shock as new and childhood friends alike shared with me that they were pursuing a more plant-based diet. The foods I’d eaten in childhood had suddenly become mainstream among my peers.
I did rebel a little bit. While cooking and eating out with friends at PUC, I discovered a love for spicy foods that I did not get from either of my parents. I currently have been experimenting with cooking as a hobby, often adding a bit of lime and cayenne pepper to many of my mom’s recipes. However, a recipe that will remain unchanged is my mom’s banana bread—still a Friday night and potluck staple.
Rebecca Broeckel has worked as a hospice social worker in Yreka, Calif., and currently resides in Sacramento, where she enjoys cooking and gardening. She holds a masters degree in social work from Walla Walla University.
This week’s recipe for Banana Bread is from Rebecca Broeckel. In the Spectrum test kitchen, we added 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and also decreased the sugar for those who prefer a less sweet version. We used roughly chopped, toasted walnuts as the add-in.
Makes: 1 loaf
Prep time: 15 min.
Total time: 45 min.
Juice of 1 lemon
3 very ripe bananas
½ cup dark brown sugar, or to taste
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 ½ cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup wheat germ
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
Optional: 1 cup nuts, dates, coconut flakes or sunflower seeds
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mash bananas and mix with lemon juice.
2. Cream applesauce and sugar together, then add the banana mix, stirring well. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour through baking soda). Add to the banana mix and stir in the optional ingredients.
3. Turn the mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake for 30-45 minutes. The bread is done when an inserted knife can pierce the bread, then come out clean.
Do you have a favorite vegetarian recipe and a story to share? Please let us know in the comments section below, or send Midori Yoshimura an email at midori [at] spectrummagazine.org.