Try Potassium-Rich Foods to Fight High Blood Pressure

Whenever we work on a dessert recipe for the Healthy Table column, we try to incorporate at least a couple of nutrient benefits. Today’s Banana Split Cake is no exception.

Potassium-rich bananas were used to give a basic yellow cake mix a wonderful banana flavor. While the scientific reasons aren’t fully understood, foods rich in potassium may help protect against high blood pressure. Also, the mashed bananas work as a fat replacer in the cake mix, allowing us to use less oil, which cut calories slightly.

We slashed artery-clogging saturated fat by replacing a traditional buttercream or cream cheese frosting with a light and delicious fat-free whipped topping with crushed pineapple. I’m not a big fan of most fat-free products, but fat-free whipped topping is really good.

Last but not least, we topped today’s cake with walnuts. The research on the health benefits of nuts is piling up, especially in supporting cardiovascular health. There are plenty of substances in nuts that may explain these heart-healthy results, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, copper, potassium, and dietary fiber. To reap the health benefits of nuts without consuming too many calories, limit your portion to one or one and a half ounces. That will fit in the palm of your hand.

Banana Split Cake

Makes: 18 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes

1 box (18.25 ounces) trans fat-free yellow cake mix (such as Betty Crocker Super Moist cake mix)
1 cup water
2 eggs
3 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup very ripe mashed banana (about 11/2 bananas)
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, packed in juice, drained well
1 container (8 ounces) fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
18 maraschino cherries with stems if desired, drained

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, water, eggs and oil, and beat according to package directions. Stir in bananas until combined. Pour batter into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool completely before frosting. To prepare frosting, fold well-drained pineapple into whipped topping. Frost cake, sprinkle with walnuts, and top with cherries, spacing to allow one cherry per piece of cake.