For the past few months I’ve been battling a nasty case of lumbar radiculopathy. Seriously. I could not make this up. Ok, really, it’s just sciatica but it sounds so much ridiculous (har har) when I use the medical term! While I plan to write more on how I’ve dealt with being unable to run, bike, lift, or really do anything that used to be part of my everyday life, for now I’ll just say that Saturday’s run was not the glorious return to the sport that I had hoped for. It left me feeling washed out and achy and my back and leg pain returned with a vengeance on Sunday. I was…frustrated, to put things mildly. The only thing that managed to brighten my mood? Discovering that we had FOUR black bananas rotting away on the counter and a beautiful box of blueberries waiting in the fridge. When life gives you sciatica, you’ve just gotta make some banana bread. That’s totally a saying, right? Who’s with me?!
I’ve always stuck by Tyler Florence’s recipe for Banana Bread with Pecans as a guide for proportions, opting for oil instead of butter, always using whole grains, and typically halving the sugar. This time around I went even more in my own direction but I have to give T. Flo a nod for sending me down the right path!
This bread is loaded with all kinds of goodies – mashed bananas, plump, fresh blueberries, and chopped walnuts. These last three ingredients are folded into the batter at the end to preserve the integrity of the fruit and it look ever ounce of self-restraint not to just dip my spoon into the bowl! Honestly, I’m not sure why I didn’t. You totally should and then tell me how awesome it was.
This bread is elevated onto an entirely different level by the addition of buttermilk. Oh, yes, buttermilk. We never have it around so I typically make my own. 1 cup of milk (any kind, even non-dairy) plus 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice and BAM, in about 10 minutes you have homemade buttermilk. I used the real stuff this time around since it was already opened and ready to go but I swear by the homemade variety. It never lets me down! While tart and tangy, it makes any recipe feel decadent by making the batter velvety and soft. I love it in bran muffins and other quick breads but prefer it most in pancakes. It’s a (nearly)vegan baker’s secret weapon, for sure!
Blueberry Banana Bread
loosely inspired by Tyler Florence
makes 1 9-inch loaf
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1.5 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 overripe (read: black) bananas
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 3/4 c. buttermilk (homemade or store bought)
- 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons flax meal mixed with 6 tablespoons water)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350. Oil and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
- In a small bowl, mash two of the bananas until they are soft and chunky.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- With an electric mixer, blend the sugar and 2 remaining bananas until light and fluffy. Add the milk, vanilla, and flax eggs and mix until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Gently fold in the mashed bananas, blueberries, and walnuts.
- Bake for 50 minutes* and check. The top of the bread should be golden brown (it’s okay if there is a crack down the center) and a knife inserted into the center should come out clean.
* My oven is very aggressive and bakes things far too quickly. Your bread may require an hour to an hour and 15 minutes.
While my back may still be giving me a hard time, it’s hard to not feel like life is jusssst fine when there’s warm bread on my table, a cup of tea brewing, and a great Kindle read waiting for me.