Sunday, November 27, 2011

I have always loved bananas. They are so good for you and they taste delicious. I especially love fried bananas with a fried egg, or banana bread on a cold snowy day with hot chocolate.  Alas, I can no longer enjoy a banana.  Several years ago, I noticed an itchy sensation in my throat when I ate bananas.  My tongue felt thick and tingled, an overall unpleasant experience.  I brought it up to my doctor who informed me it was a food allergy.  I had, to date, never had any kind of allergy to food.  How could this be?  He advised me that some people acquire food allergies as they get older.  He was right, that was the start of several food allergies.  Hopefully, I have stopped developing food allergies, it really is difficult to deal with at times.  When we go to restaurants I have to go down the list of food I am allergic to.  If we are in a seafood restaurant, I have to specify that they cook my food on a clean grill, or in a clean skillet and it can't be touched by anything that has touched seafood, shellfish, spinach, etc.  I was recently in a seafood restaurant and they advised me that they only had a small grill and could not guarantee that anything they grill for me would not be contaminated by an allergen.  My husband really wanted to eat there, so I ordered something that was "safe", how badly could nachos get messed up?  Extremely badly as it turns out.  I took one bite and tasted shrimp.  Shrimp is one of my more severe allergies.  I asked the waiter to come over to tell him that the chips tasted of shrimp.  His answer not only shocked me, but caused great concern at the ignorance of a person who serves food to patrons who may have food allergies.  He nodded his head as I told him my discovery and advised me that they, do, fry the chips in the shrimp oil.  He also helpfully added, that the heat of the oil kills all the allergens in the shrimp and renders the food completely safe for those of us who are allergic.  Wow.  Sadly, this is the attitude of many wait staff.  They are not educated, the cooks are not educated, and food allergies are not taken seriously.  People die every day from anaphylactic shock brought on by food allergies.  Restaurants really need to take those extra steps to insure the safety of their food served to the public. Some people have such severe allergies that even the smell of a food they are allergic to can send them into a severe health emergency.  Thankfully, none of my allergies are so extreme.
My husband and son love bananas, we have them in the house but I don't cook with them as the steam from the cooking bananas can cause a mild irritation to my throat.  We also don't eat several other things because I can not cook them, due to my allergies.  My mother-in-law came for a visit and she made some banana nut muffins.  We had several left over bananas that I did not want to waste, after she left.  I decided to bake some Banana Bread.  My Dad sent over the recipe they use and I tried my very first Banana Bread.  It smelled really good, and yes, it did  cause me a little discomfort, I just took an antihistamine which seemed to ease the symptoms some.
Sometimes having food allergies makes me sad.  My Mom and I have taken several cruises and most of the time the food on the menu has some sort of allergen.  The wait staff are very good about making sure the food is safe.  It's important to tell them prior to your sail date of allergies and then to discuss with both the Maitre dee and your waiter, your allergies.  They are, however, unable to change the menu.  After several nights of eating a small variety of things, I was so upset to discover that there was nothing on the third nights menu that I could eat.  I broke down in tears and left the dining room.  The waiter followed me out to the elevator to ask what was wrong.  I told him that there was nothing on the menu I could eat.  He was so nice, he offered to get me a hot dog from the Lido deck.  I laughed and motioned to the evening gown I had on and said no thank you.  He coaxed me back to the table and made it his mission to bring me a grilled chicken breast with other things I could eat.  Of course, his kindness and concern again had me in tears, but that is what should happen.  None of us asked to have food allergies, it's annoying to the people who go out with us, it's annoying to the waiters and chefs/cooks, it's annoying to us.  The fact is, people have food allergies.  They are dangerous, and they can kill.
That said, please try this wonderful recipe, unless you are allergic of course .  The Banana Bread came out of the oven and between my son and husband was devoured shortly thereafter.  This recipe is for muffins, however the bread recipe is at the bottom.  I don't like nuts in my food, as a general rule.  So I left the pecans out.  

Banana-Nut Muffins:
author: unknown

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped pecans

  • Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl' make a well in center of mixture.  Combine egg, mashed banana, milk and oil; add mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.  Stir in pecans.
  • Spoon batter into greased muffin pans, filling three-fourths full.  Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until golden.  Remove from pans immediately.  Yield: 1 dozen
  • Per muffin: Calories 217 Fat 10.6g Cholesterol 20 mg Sodium 184 mg
Banana-Nut Bread:
Spoon batter into a greased 81/2 X 41/2 inch loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Yield: 1 loaf.

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