As a rule, the banana and I are not on good terms. Years of constipation already had me avoiding the banana. Even promises that it was a muscle relaxant/cramp reducer due to its potassium richness, could not persuade me to risk its side effects – no poop for the constipated. When I was in the US Peace Corps we were counselled, if you have diarrea, eat bananas, they will fix (stop) you up. As if this was not already enough for me to never have a banana cross my lips, for years I followed the Montignac method, all about glycemic index and the separation of carbs and proteins – and it has little good to say about the banana. In fact, I followed this method to some degree up until I studied nutritional therapy, where I learned categorically that every meal and snack requires a protein component. Specifically related to the banana, this means that a banana combined with some nuts is in fact an ideal snack. In fact, the research I did during my coursework debunked all the negative propaganda about the banana and its sugar content/glycemic index and supported its binding properties.
For me, this changed nothing about the banana itself as related to my original reason for not eating it, in fact it reinforced it. What did change over the years, my relationship to food, my eating habits, and subsequently my bathroom habits. The evil I feared from the banana was all but a distant memory.
Now, all these years later, I am back facing the banana and in a new context – enticing my Swiss Italian husband to enjoy the best and (some might argue) most important meal of the day – breakfast. In this way he errs on his Italian side. Whereas Swiss Germans are the benevolent creators of one of breakfasts greatest stars – the Bircher muesli. Specifically, Maximilian Bircher-Benner, who is credited with creating this breakfast game changer.
An Italian breakfast is basically a recipe for diabetes (and possibly heart disease depending upon your constitution) – fresh orange juice, a croissant, and a cappuccino. In short, carbs, sugar, and caffeine. Totally devoid of protein or frankly any solid nutritional value in terms of a healthy way to start the day.
Since we married it has been my crusade to entice him to breakfast. In some situations it is effortless. In Turkey, even mention Menemen and he is at the table. Pomegranate juice drunk fresh among its fields and he is slurping away, the perfect accompaniment to fresh white cheese and steaming hot flat bread. When my mother made him cheesecake for breakfast as a welcome when they met the first time, he was all in. All of his breakfast eating has one thing in common, we are not at home, and usually not even in Switzerland. Once for a short period, 2 weeks maybe, I managed to perfect a breakfast bar that he would eat. That was 3-4 years ago.
A determined, persistent, and loyal soul, my search for a breakfast food he may enjoy is unending. Recently a friend (& frequent sharer of recipes on this blog, Angela Lanza) mentioned her breakfast banana bread, I balked, not the banana! Said husband’s ears perked up, “I would like that”, he said. What followed, you can guess, I got the recipe and made the bread. It is the perfect balance of sweet, healthy, and filling. Using ground almonds in the place of flour, it offers the right amount of protein to make it a truly healthy and balanced breakfast. Did he like it? Can you guess? It was too healthy. I will not be foiled, I will make another batch, this time adding honey to sweeten it just that much more, in an effort to appeal to his Italian need for breakfast to taste like cake.
What did happen though, the banana has been redeemed for me. I loved it!
You can make the recipe and tweak it for yourself.
Angela’s banana bread is here for you, along with a short story from Angela herself about the merits of the bread, including her own success with – an Italian husband enjoying it.
A few words from Angela:
The recipe for this bread comes from a book a friend gave me and was introduced to by her niece who is a friend of one of the authors. It is written by two young, rather beautiful sisters who are promoting healthy recipes This banana bread got my daughter Claire through those mid-morning and mid-afternoon slumps when she was pregnant & then when breastfeeding. It is truly a healthy, nutritious & tasty treat. My husband loves it for breakfast & he’s Italian!
Three generations of banana bread loving Lanza's on their terrace overlooking lake Lugano.