In 1975 I spent a summer traveling with two friends around Central America. At the time we were worried about getting Montezuma’s Revenge — touristas supposedly contracted this dreaded awfulness if they drank tap water in Central American countries, or ate the local food and weren’t used to it. So, before we left, we made some loaves of super-dense high protein bread we could carry in our backpacks. Our thought was to avoid getting sick by gradually getting used to the local food, and eating our bread for the first week or so.
I can’t remember what all we put in the bread, but I do remember it was delicious and hard to ration it out to ourselves for even a week. We probably made it last 4 or 5 days. On the third class buses from the Mexican border south to Guatemala, we drank bottled water, cerveza or coke, ate our traveler’s bread (as I have come to remember it) and hardly anything else.
On an overnight stop in Oaxaca, we spent some hours walking around the marketplace in the early evening and the smells were unbelievably tempting! We gave in and bought some tacos from a sidewalk cart, kept walking, then circled around and bought a few more (what the tacos turned out to be made of is another story.) The next morning we were all sick as dogs … and had to get on a bus for Guatemala that day. Ohhhhh…. the indignity of it! I won’t gross you out with the details. Suffice to say I got over it eventually, and for the rest of our summer, didn’t get sick again.
I am traveling to Mexico with Tim in a few days and I decided to try to recreate that high protein bread for old time’s sake. We will be up in the mountains away from the towns. I just used what we had in the pantry and fridge, and pulled from the recesses of my memory how I made it the first time.
Here’s the recipe as I re-invented it today:
Traveler’s High Protein Fruit-Nut Bread
makes 6 small loaves or 2 large loaves
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a vegetable oil spray, 6 or 7 small loaf pans, and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large bread bowl, mix together thoroughly (you might have to use your hands):
- 1 cup almond slices
- 2 cups pecans, chopped
- 1 cup raw cashews or macadamia nuts, whole or chopped
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup dried apricots, diced small
- 1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup fruit bits (or substitute some other dried fruit)
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup sesame seeds, dry-toasted if you like
- 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries
- 1 cup leftover steel cut oats (just using up what was in the fridge)
- 1 cup mincemeat or 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium bananas)
- 2 medium or 1 1/2 large apple, diced finely or chopped in food processor
3. In another small bowl, mix together and set aside:
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
4. In a deep, medium mixing bowl, beat eggs and vanilla until light colored. While beating, slowly add the melted butter or canola oil to the eggs and continue beating til very light colored and thickened.
- 7 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup melted butter or 1/4 cup canola oil
5. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture until blended well. Pour onto the fruit/nut mixture and fold all together until the fruits and nuts are coated with batter. Distribute into the loaf pans. Press the batter to even it out in the pans.
8. To store, cover tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This loaf is best after being stored for a couple of days. Will keep for about 1 week at room temperature or for a month in the fridge. Cut into slices with a sharp knife or if you are traveling, you can just break off chunks. We have already eaten half a small loaf with our lentil soup for lunch today. This bread really is awesomely delicious — I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we do. I’d love to hear about it if you do try this recipe. (Let me know how it turned out in a comment. Thanks!)