Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Banana Yogurt Cake for a Lunch Box Treat
For many, Labor Day weekend signifies the end of summer and a transition to the new school year. This past weekend was a fun last hurrah for us, a time to reflect on the relaxing summer months off while preparing to jump into a busy schedule. My sons do not return to school until tomorrow, but I have lunches on my mind today as I start planning what they’ll take.
Growing up, my mom packed school lunches for my brothers and me, and Bob’s mom did the same for him. I bought milk at school (5 cents for regular, 6 cents for chocolate!) and occasionally ate the hot lunch (usually on pizza days). When my sons were in elementary school, they went to a small school that did not serve a hot lunch program so lunches had to be brought from home. As they entered middle school and high school, though, buying lunch became an option for them, an option they quickly discarded.
Both Sam and Isaac prefer to bring food from home rather than eat what is in the school cafeteria and I can’t say I blame them. I’m in the middle of reading Free for All: Fixing School Food in America by Janet Poppendieck for the Slow Food Seattle Book Club and it is eye-opening. I highly recommend it if you have school-age children or an interest in nutrition in our schools.
Good nutrition is an important part of lunch, vital to refueling our children’s bodies so they can focus and learn during the day. In addition to the healthy food I pack for Sam and Isaac, I like to include a treat now and then. One of our favorites is this Banana Yogurt Cake. The original recipe comes from Cooking for a Healthy Family by Simon Hope. The cake is full of wholesome goodness from bananas, whole wheat flour and yogurt.
It’s a cake you can dress up with cream cheese frosting or toss in some chocolate chips or blueberries for a little decadence, but we usually enjoy it plain. It’s moist and flavorful and a nice alternative to banana bread when you have speckled bananas sitting on your counter (you can also freeze overly ripe bananas in their peel to keep on hand for baking). I usually double the recipe and bake it in a Bundt pan so it’s easy to slice a hunk and wrap up for lunch.
Cheers to a new school year! (And I can't resist sharing this pic of Boots and Bess hanging in the sun together.)
Banana Yogurt Cake
Adapted from Cooking for a Healthy Family
By Simon Hope
Makes an 8-inch cake or you can double the recipe for a Bundt cake
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I like to use Greek yogurt)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch cake pan or Bundt pan.
In a medium size bowl, stir the yogurt and brown sugar together. Whisk in the vegetable oil, followed by the bananas, eggs and vanilla. Slowly stir in the flour, baking powder and salt until mixed.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 40 minutes, until firm to the touch (this is a moist cake, be careful not to over bake). If baking in a Bundt pan, increase the time to about 50 minutes. Let cool and remove from pan. The cake will keep, well wrapped, at room temperature for 2 days.