Fonticulus Fides

Friday, September 19, 2003

When Edyn was a tiny baby and still having an 11 p.m. nursing session, I got into the habit of watching late-night sit-com reruns, specifically a show called "Everybody Loves Raymond." I stuck with that one after learning that the leading actress, Patricia Heaton, was honorary chair of Feminists for Life -- not too many Hollywood stars are so open about their pro-life stance.

Anyway, there was an episode in which the family was supposed to bring snacks for a child's t-ball game, and they brought a box of pretzles and some juice. The "snack organizer" parents threw a major hissy fit, pointing out that pretzles were not on the "approved snack list." While the nutritionally anal husband argued with Patricia Heaton's character, his wife saves the day with kiwi fruit and granola bars, or something like that.

Well, I've just become one of those parents who want to micromanage everybody else's snack choices at Zooey's preschool. Lucky for them I'm in no position of authority, so all I can do is grumble about it on my blog.

We're all supposed to bring snacks once a month, and the teacher specifically requested nutritious snacks, such as muffins, fruit, veggies and dip, a loaf of raisin bread, etc, instead of cookies or other treats. She does allow for treats on birthdays or holidays, but not for your average snack. Regardless, there have been a fair share of parents who have sent a pan of brownies or cupcakes. At this point, I'd be happier with a box of pretzles.

Today was Zooey's first turn to bring something and we had the time, so we washed and bagged seedless red grapes and baked banana bread -- still on the sweet side, but at least it's healthier than a cupcake. See, I'm not over-the-top like the kiwi people on that TV show, but I do try to maintain a fairly healthy standard.

When parents send cupcakes, the teacher is augmenting them with her own supply of "something healthy" -- each kid gets a graham cracker or a half of banana or something before indulging in the sugary snack. What's more, some of the parents have "forgotten" to send snacks with the children, despite that bright orange snack bucket she sends home with a note, "Tomorrow is your snack day!" The poor lady must be using a hefty portion of her paycheck to provide snacks when these parents fail to maintain their commitment, and it's bothering me. But again, I don't have any authority, so I guess I'm just going to have to handle it by donating several boxes of graham crackers and granola bars for her to have on hand, just in case.

Zooey, of course, doesn't mine chowing on brownies at 9:15 a.m. And since he doesn't get too many treats overall, I shouldn't be so bothered by it. I just have this theory that the healthier kids eat, the more able they are to learn (better brain stimulation) and the more able they are to resist the colds and other minor illnesses that come with the territory.

Well, in the meantime, I'll post my recipe for banana bread, which I copied out of the American Heritage cookbook so long ago, I wrote it in pink crayon. This one is made with yogurt and a bit of lemon zest, so it has a nice refreshing undertone to it.

American Heritage Banana Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or half a/p flour and half whole wheat)
1/2 tespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (a pinch more if you are using whole wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 - 7/8 cup sugar (depending on how sweet your bananas are)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 very ripe, mashed bananas (about 3/4 cup)
optional, 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 if you are using mini-loaf pans). Grease a regular loaf pan or three mini-loaf pans.

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Cream butter; gradually add sugar and cream until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla and lemon rind. Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the yogurt. Stir in mashed banana (and nuts if desired). Spread into pan(s) and bake one hour for a regular loaf, 45 minutes for mini loaves, or until top springs back when lightly touched and a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.

I've doubled this recipe successfully, but my mixer is too small to take a tripling.



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