Editor’s note: Every other week in this space during 2020, you’ll find recipes and tips from St. Luke’s chefs and dietitians to help you cook healthier at home.
Amy Ritchie knew she loved to cook, but it wasn’t until she started working for Mark Owsley at St. Luke’s Magic Valley that she found her true vocation – baking.
Ritchie, a member of the American Culinary Federation, had been cooking professionally for several years before joining the Magic Valley team about four years ago. Owsley was the longtime executive chef at the highly revered Gamekeeper restaurant and other former Owyhee Plaza hotel establishments in Boise until 2011, when he moved to Twin Falls to work for St. Luke’s; he’s no slouch when it comes to spotting kitchen talent.
It didn’t take Owsley long to realize that Ritchie had all the right stuff to become the facility’s baker – and the mentoring began. With her eye for detail and an ability to juggle large batches of anything and everything with ease, Ritchie was smitten.
“I didn’t know how much I loved baking until I started training alongside Chef Mark,” Ritchie said. “It’s my passion, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
The rave reviews for Ritchie’s work (and work ethic!) go beyond the St. Luke’s patients and employees who enjoy her breads and sweet treats. For the past two years, she’s won best dessert honors during the hotly contested chef competition at “Epicurean Evening.” The popular annual event benefits St. Luke’s Magic Valley Health Foundation, and as Owsley notes, Ritchie was up against several chefs from prominent Sun Valley-area restaurants.
“Amy is one of a kind and definitely a crowd favorite,” Owsley said. “She loves what she does here in the kitchen. She always goes the extra mile.”
Owsley himself is particularly fond of Ritchie’s versatile take on banana bread, which you can easily adapt to your own taste preferences.
“You can add nuts, chocolate chips or blueberries,” Ritchie said. “This bread is great all by itself, but you could top with butter, cream cheese, Nutella or peanut butter. Serve it with fruit and a side of yogurt. You can also use the banana bread to make a delicious French toast.”
St. Luke’s Nampa Clinical Dietitian Tony Teich, RD, offers another twist.
“To add a nutritional boost, grate a medium zucchini and add it to the batter,” Teich said. “It will add an additional crunch as well as a shot of vitamin C and extra fiber!”
Makes 12 servings
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1¾ cups flour
1½ cups sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup banana pudding
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Pinch of salt
Note: This bread freezes well. Make sure to take it out of pan first, and then let the bread cool completely before tightly wrapping and freezing. You can freeze as a whole loaf or as individual slices. It should be good in the freezer for about one month.
312 calories; 14 g fat (1.3g saturated fat); 132 mg sodium; 46 g total carbohydrate; 1.7 g fiber; 4 g protein
Holly M. Anderson works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.