before coming to ukraine i didn’t fully appreciate the greatness that america is. though despite its greatness, it still has its downfalls, as does every country. if america can be summed up as one thing currently, i might say it’s convenience. americans want things easier, faster, cheaper.
not all of it is bad convenience — out patient health clinics, while you wait prescription fills, express lanes on tolls have all made life easier. but it’s the bad conveniences i’m thinking of…ones like the lunchtime motts applesauce containers in the recipe i found that throw me into a tizzy.
this post was originally supposed to be just about banana bread, which would have been simple enough, but of course being who i am, i can’t help making a social critique along the way. i highly doubt that most people searching for low-fat banana bread recipes ever de-rail this far, but today i did. sometimes i wish i could be more like them and leave the critique out of it, even for things as simple as banana bread, but then again, i don’t.
first, let me proclaim, i love bananas. no. i really love them. given a choice of what food i would eat for the rest of my life it would probably be bananas, well that and and endless supply of peanut butter. i try to ration my banana intake to only one a day. but i’ve been known to sometimes eat 2 or 3. in one day. like i said, i love them.
so naturally, my love for bananas and my love for baking would lead me in one delicious direction: banana bread. i’ve tried several recipes, but my ‘go-to’ banana bread recipe, one which i REALLY love, is most certainly not the healthiest for you (but also why it’s so damn tasty).
with a few bananas i rationed from my daily intake for banana bread getting a little too ripe in the fridge, i knew it was time to try a new recipe. most of the low-fat recipes i found called for applesauce or low-fat milk. since i don’t drink milk and there’s no chance of finding soy milk here, i knew that was out of the question. so that left me with applesauce.
after just dumping 6 jars of spoiled home canned applesauce down the drain, applesauce and i weren’t really on good terms. but i put that behind me and used the one apple i had left for the recipe. the original recipe uses those mini lunchtime motts applesauces. which, being an environmentalist for life, bothered me a significant amount. how hard, really, is it to save the plastic and make it yourself? as barbara kingsolver pointed out in her non-fiction book ‘animal, vegetable, miracle’, all the seasonal recipes involving pumpkin puree referred to the kind from the can…as though it was impossible to take the extra steps and make it yourself.
convenience pre-packaged foods, are easy on time and wallets, but are seriously dangerous to our health and the earth. you might be thinking that i’m absolutely looney for thinking all this from applesauce but those plastic applesauce containers are just the beginning.
most of the world, particularly america, believes that everything is at their disposal. plastic applesauce containers, water bottles, styrofoam in school cafeterias, disposable toilet bowl cleaning discs…the list goes on. walk into a grocery store and you’ll see food items packaged and ready at your convenience, or shelves of home-good items lined with plastic products. while it’s easy to pick up some prepared soups, meals, dairy products within minutes, you’re left with a garbage full of packaging and most likely a body full of weird additives.
ukraine has certainly made me more aware of the waste i create. mainly because my trash can (along with everyone else) is itty itty bitty and more appropriate for bedside barfing. not to mention to throw it out takes a 20 minute walk one way. i buy most of my food in the village and bazaar, buying items whole and in bulk. it’s all made me much more aware about my own contribution to the landfill. though while ukrainians may create less waste then americans on a whole, they still have a lot to learn. most people burn their trash and littering is a serious and sad problem.
even prior to ukraine i struggled with the amount of waste packaged foods and other goods are creating. i’ve been an active environmentalist since high school (if you couldn’t tell). i say ‘active’ since despite being president and founder of ‘save the whales club’ in the 3rd grade, we didn’t do much for whales’ sake except complete jig-saw puzzles. i moved from ‘save the whale club’ to ‘environmental club’ in high school that actually did something — even though it may have just been digging through the recycling and trash after school.
years later i still found myself fishing though the garbage like a bag lady trying to salvage what plasticware i could at family functions. not that we couldn’t easily replace them, but we shouldn’t replace them. we should think before we purchase. think about where foods/products have come from, what materials it was made with, and where it will go once we’re done. i think most people don’t think (or sometimes want to think) about any of that once they toss something in the garbage and it’s picked up once a week to go somewhere we don’t even know.
i’m not suggesting you go out and buy your own cow to reduce your milk carton waste (although that would be awesome!), i realize that of course we aren’t given much choice for some things. we of course didn’t create the packaging — but we certainly don’t have to buy it and support it.
we have to start thinking about waste. about how much we’re creating and where it’s all going. if more people don’t, we a seriously doomed planet. change must come from the individual. if we all began to take notice of our consumption habits, our waste, and the changes we could make, the would would be off to a much better start for the generations to come. the changes don’t have to be big at first, every change helps, even the simple ones like making a 1/2 cup of applesauce on the stove instead of tossing two plastic containers into the trash bin. here are some other ideas:
- stay away from ‘snack sized’ packaging (this goes for zip lock bags too) and use your own reusable tupperware instead
- buy bars of soap rather than plastic pump bottles
- bring reusable shopping bags to the store (if you keep them in your car trunk you’ll be more likely not to forget them)
- use a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing plastic ones
- bring a reusable mug to coffee shops (starbucks will give you a 10 cent discount each time)
- buy items from bulk bins instead of in packages: rice, flour, sugar…(like at whole foods for example)
- investigate your community’s recycling rules
- start a composte bin in your backyard (it’s a good use of organic food waste and great for your garden!)
now that you’ve worked up an appetite for social change, here’s the recipe for an environmentally-guilt free-very-little-waste-created delicious banana bread.
low-fat applesauce-y banana bread
makes 1 loaf
- 3 ripe bananas
- 2 c flour
- 1 c sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- ½ c unsweetened applesauce*
- 1 tsp. vanilla (or 1 vanilla packet)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ½ C nuts, optional
- preheat oven to 350°, spray loaf pan with cooking spray or use silicone bakeware.
- mash bananas with a potato masher or a fork and set aside.
- combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and spices in medium bowl.
- add applesauce, eggs, vanilla and bananas (and nuts if using) to flour mixture and mix with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until well combined, do not overmix.
- pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake on center oven rack for 50 mins – 60 mins (until inserted tooth pick comes out clean)
- let cool in pan for 5 mins and then cool bread on cooling rack. enjoy : )
*it’s super easy to make it yourself. take one medium/large apple, peel, core, and chop. cook in small saucepan with a few tablespoons of water. simmer for 10-15 minutes until apples are cooked. mash with potato masher and cool for a few minutes.