I once ate so many strawberries I made myself quite sick. And it wasn’t, as you might imagine, when I was a young child with no self control. Nope, it was as a full grown adult who should have known better. But I’ve never had much self control when it comes to foods I love, and these strawberries were at the peak of perfection. I was back in Vancouver for a visit and was spending the day with my best guy friend from university, whom I hadn’t seen in years. We toodled around Kitsilano and Granville Island, where we hit the market and bought about three pounds of strawberries, among other things. Then we made our way back to his apartment with the intention of ordering in some dinner. Chatting and laughing and catching up, we suddenly realized that we no longer needed dinner, we had almost polished off the entire thing of these amazing berries, and we were uncomfortably full. I had quite the stomachache that night, and into part of the next day. But I don’t regret it at all, it was worth every second of the discomfort.
Fresh berries are a true weakness of mine. The funny thing about strawberries is that I don’t like them much in anything other than their fresh form. I detest strawberry jam and am not that fond of them baked into anything – the only exception being when it’s with rhubarb, to help cut the cloying sweetness of the berries. But I like the IDEA of baking with them, and whenever we go strawberry-picking, I always buy far more than I should with the idea of making this, that and the other. Such was the case a few weeks ago, when I hauled all three of my kids to our favourite berry patch.
We came home with four quarts of strawberries (and probably ate the equivalent of a fifth quart while we were picking). My daughter had me promising to make all sorts of treats with them and my eyes were bigger than my stomach. But once home, I wanted to enjoy the berries as is for a while, before making anything with them. Fresh strawberries are too good on their own to bake into something when they are picked at that height of perfection. It was only once they started to get a little soft and a little old that I knew it was time to bake with them and use them up.
I wanted to make something for my kids, something that felt like a treat but was also quite healthy. The older two were about to embark on a trip with their fahther for a few days, to see their grandparents, so I also wanted to make something that was sturdy enough to travel. When I spied a few overripe bananas on the counter, it clicked. Strawberries and bananas are delicious together, why not strawberry banana bread? And to gussy it up a little further, a lovely streusel topping. I used my Whole Grain Banana Bread recipe as a healthy base, but knowing that both bananas and strawberries are so naturally sweet and that the streusel would add a little sugar, I cut down the sugar to 1/4 cup.
The Results: Not being low carb, I didn’t taste any of this bread, but it seems to have been a hit. It certainly smelled heavenly when I sliced into it, and it was packed full of strawberries. And apparently it was served for breakfast at the grandparents’ house not once, but twice! I’d have to call that a success.
Strawberry Banana Streusel Bread
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Hot Cereal
OR any multigrain hot cereal mix
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 medium overripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
For the streusel, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon and chopped nuts in a small bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F. Generously grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan.
In a small bowl, combine cereal and milk. Let sit 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, flax meal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add bananas, eggs, melted butter and cereal mixture and fold in gently until just comined. Fold in strawberries.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with streusel topping. Bake 50-60 minutes or until top is evenly golden brown and a tester inserted into the middle comes out with a few crumbs attached.
Let cool in pan for 10-20 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 12-15 servings.