August 1, 2008

That’s me singing the Banana Bread Song.

WOW, that joke is horrible. Get me, I’m intolerable!

So I had these bananas that were clearly within a day or two of going bad, but right before bananas go bad, they go through that phase where they’re very dark and very soft but not yet bad, and that’s the moment where they cry out to you, “Use me to make banana bread.”

And for once, instead of watching something go bad while chastising myself for not making something out of it, I actually made banana bread. I used this recipe from Cooking Light, pretty much exactly as written. My only modification was that after the prescribed hour of cooking time, it looked good on the outside, but when I put a knife into it, I pulled out banana pudding. So, needless to say, it required about another ten minutes of baking time, but it didn’t dry out or overcook on the outside in the meantime. As a friend of mine was saying the other day, quick breads can be kind of temperamental, and I think with something as vague as very ripe bananas, the cooking time could be altered by anything from how ripe and mushy they are to how much volume you actually get — I just used three ripe bananas; it’s not like I measured the mashed banana to make sure it was a cup and a half.

Let me tell you, this stuff is so good. With light quick breads, as you know if you’ve ever made them, the risk is that they will be incredibly dry. If you’ve ever made a supposedly healthy applesauce bread and wound up feeling like you’re trying to do that parlor trick where you eat six Saltines in a minute, you know just what I’m talking about. But with banana bread, it’s so moist from all the fruit that there’s no danger of that at all. You could probably make this with oil instead of butter for a bit less saturated fat, but a quarter-cup for an entire loaf…you know. It’s not that bad. My only hesitation is that it uses white flour exclusively. I’d like to try it with some whole-grain flour or something else that would give it a bit of fiber, but the texture is so divine that I’m afraid to ruin it.

As it happens, a couple of days before I made the bread, it was Errand Day, so I had my Zipcar, and Ames and I went to Trader Joe’s, where I became fascinated with their “cashew macadamia nut butter.” You know, like peanut butter, but with cashews and macadamia nuts?

You know what’s an insanely good breakfast? Two thin slices of homemade banana bread, toasted, with a very small amount of cashew macadamia butter and two bitty clementines. It has fruit, it has protein, and it makes me feel pampered. It’s a tad higher in calories than I’d usually have, but I was heading into a big workout, so it seemed like a fine idea.

I felt so good, in fact, that I went and did the Biggest Loser Power Sculpt, which I’d purchased by not tried yet.

What the hell is with Kim? Jillian, good. Bob, weird but good. Kim? OH MY GOD, I hate her guts. What is her problem? It’s like she’s both really twee and really judgmental. You can only be one of those! Basically, the structure is that there’s a five-minute warmup with Jillian, then a twenty-minute sequence with Jillian, then a ten-minute sequence with Kim, then a ten-minute sequence with Bob, then a five-minute cool-down with Jillian. (This may be why Sarah noted no warmup; if this was the same “power sculpt,” it’s in modules, so the warmup is separate, and it’s on the DVD, but it might not be part of the same On Demand thingy.)

Anyhoo, it was interesting to watch this video, where the participants are Biggest Loser contestants, some of whom still are obviously working on losing some weight. Bob, in particular, wants you to spend an obscene amount of time in standard push-up and plank positions, which even the BL graduates simply can’t do. You wind up looking at people whose “push-up position” involves butts high in the air, which is not right, but that’s just not a position that larger people can hold for that long. It was frustrating to me that, during the course of the workout, nobody said, “You know, even our demonstrators can’t do this, which isn’t good for morale for the people watching at home.” I did as much of it as I could, and I wound up doing all the segments, which is supposedly the most advanced version of the video. It’s definitely very difficult and imposing, with 40 minutes of pretty hard labor.

As always, I liked the Jillian parts the best. I just liked it that, when one of the demonstrators was doing the move wrong (not in the “bad and injuring form” way, just in the “that’s not what we’re doing” way), Jillian was like, “No, tap. Tap. TAP!” in this voice that wasn’t really mocking and wasn’t really critical, it was just amused, like, “Hey, Sweaty McGee, you want to pay attention?” It brings a little bit of needed lightheartedness to the proceedings when the exercise lady is like, “Hi, we’re over here, and we’re doing this, so whenever you want to join in.”

So things are good today. Sweaty McGee, reporting.


7 Responses to “Daaaaaay-O”

  1. Nicole Says:

    Ugh, I can’t stand Kim. I’ve never done the videos, but she was insufferable on the actual show, making the contestants feel guilty all the time if she was having a bad day.

  2. Jon Says:

    I’ve never seen these videos, so perhaps I should just stay quiet, but… there’s a point to having someone do something so long that they can’t do it anymore. Not all the time, not for every exercise, but sometimes working a muscle to absolute exhaustion is exactly what you need to do. So having people hold a push-up position for so long that they have to stop is probably exactly what Bob was aiming for. The trick is that the exhaustion point will vary for every person. My trainer can obviously hold a plank position for longer than I can, so he has to trust that when I collapse and say I can’t hold it for another second, I really mean it. On a video, the trainer can’t know when you will hit that point, so he probably has to push people to hold the position for a really long time on the theory that he’ll eventually hit just about any person’s exhaustion point.

    (But I want to be clear that my defense of Bob is not a defense of his “necktie as ascot” thing. I don’t care how hot he is, that shit just ain’t right.)

  3. Linda Says:

    No, sure, I get that. What I’m saying is that it’s really…not close, and it’s not like there’s a variation, and it’s not like he says “Hold it for as long as you can.” Basically, he puts these people into “position,” but the only way they can do it is to totally pervert the form by throwing their butts in the air, which is exactly what you’re not supposed to do. So it’s not holding it a long time that’s the problem; it’s the fact that he doesn’t really cover how you’re supposed to make it useful for you if you can’t do what he’s suggesting. The alternative suggested by actually watching the video is “skip it by throwing your butt in the air such that you’re not doing a push-up/plank position at all,” and I don’t think that’s the best idea.

  4. Jon Says:

    Yeah, that makes perfect sense. (I mean, it makes sense why he’s wrong.) If alternative positions are okay, or there are alternative ways of doing the same exercise that work around particular weaknesses or injuries or whatnot, they need to be really clearly labeled. It should be “this is the way to do it, or if that’s too hard, you can do it like Gary here.” But you shouldn’t just leave people guessing what’s right and what’s wrong.

  5. Kim Says:

    I’m just dropping by to encourage you to experiment with the banana bread–it’s very forgiving! Whole wheat flour, chocolate chips, shredded zucchini…it’s all good. Possibly not together, though maybe!

    My coworkers practically took me hostage over Cooking Light’s “Jamaican Banana Bread” recipe, which happily is now online too. Banana bread, only with lime, coconut, pecans, AND BOOZE.

  6. Peyton Says:

    I don’t understand what this is all about? It seems to make little sense. Why bother, really?

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