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Monday, June 24, 2013

Approximating Calories in Recipes

I will try to include nutritional information on each recipe at the end of each post.  I have a desk job and so I sit for 5 days a week.  I exercise 2 or 3 times a week, but otherwise, I am a relatively sedentary person.  When I get home from work I clean up a bit and fix dinner, but after that I am parked on the sofa for the rest of the evening.

Thus my caloric intake is very limited.  I like to use the calculator found here at Scooby's Workshop for a somewhat accurate idea of what my calorie intake should be.  Right now, I am have an approximate basal metabolic rate of 1300 (what minimal calories my body needs just to be a vegetable), a maintenance rate of 1800 (what my body needs to maintain the weight I am), and a cutting rate of 1450 (what I can have if I want to lose .7 pounds per week).

People who eat a lot of pre-packaged foods will have an easier time counting calories that people who cook their own meals.  This is somewhat ironic, given that pre-packaged foods are usually not as nutritious or wholesome as home-made or whole foods.  But a bag of doritos is a bag of doritos is a bag of doritos, whereas a small banana is not a medium banana is not a large banana. 

Compare the calories of a banana (from the USDA website):  1 small banana of 6" to 6-7/8" long is 90 calories, 1 medium banana of 7" to 7-7/8" long is 105 calories, and 1 large banana of 8" to 8-7/8" long is 121 calories.  Consider my banana bread recipe which calls for 3 to 4 bananas.  This throws off the numbers (but somehow evens out in the recipe).

Why the obsession with calories?  Because weight loss/gain/maintenance is about calories in and calories out.  I love to eat and to cook, but I don't think we need to sacrifice our waistlines in the process. 

Banana Bread

I love banana bread because it transforms a bunch of disgusting overripe bananas into a delicious butterfly of a bread.  I've made many loaves of banana bread, but this recipe is my favorite.  The bread is moist, chewy, dense, and not too sweet.  The riper your bananas, the better.

Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 overripe bananas
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon if you are using salted butter)
  • 1 stick melted and cooled, or softened, unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 3-4 tbsp whole milk yogurt (not essential - but gives you want an even moister, denser, tastier bread due to the thirstiness of the oats)
Method

  • Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  • Line two loaf pans with parchment paper (I use file clips to keep them in place until the loaves go in the oven - don't forget to remove them).
  • Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl with a potato masher.
  • Add the sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract, and mix well until creamy and smooth (go ahead and beat the heck out of them by hand).
  • Add the flour, rolled oats, baking soda, and cream together until well combined.
  • Fold in the walnuts (optional, but I wouldn't do without them).
  • Pour the batter evenly into the two prepared loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out pretty clean.  You can take banana bread out of the oven with a bit more moisture.
  • Allow the bread to cool in the pan then slice and enjoy.  Fresh out of the oven, the bread has a lovely crunchy crust and piping hot, moist interior.  The next day, the bread has uniformly absorbed the moisture and the entire loaf is soft, dense, moist, and delicious.  Keeps for 5 days if it lasts that long.
Tips

Banana bread is pretty fool-proof, but here are a few essentials:  use overripe bananas, make sure the oven is 350 in the center of the oven the entire time, don't over bake (it keeps cooking in the pan for a bit even out of the oven).  Each loaf will be relatively squat (you can use one loaf pan for a very tall loaf, but I have experienced the loaf rising over the edges and becoming too cooked on the outside). 

Nutritional Information

Calories are approximately 3,200 for the entire batch, or 1,600 per loaf if you divide by two.  I can get at most 12 slices out of each loaf, usually more like 10 because I like thick slices, for about 133-160 calories per slice.