Are you in the mood for a fluffy, moist and healthy banana bread that’ll fill the kitchen with the most delicious aroma? If not, then you will be in a few minutes. And no need to feel guilty after a slice, because we’ve tailored this recipe to be as healthy as can be. This is a classic case of “having your cake and eating it too”!
Somehow, we always end up with a few very ripe (black) bananas sitting in our fruit basket. Those that wouldn’t survive a trip to work in our bag make the perfect candidates for smoothies or baking. So that’s what we did – we baked them into an irresistible loaf that’s perfect for dessert and breakfast.
This healthy banana bread recipe requires just one bowl, some basic ingredients, and a couple of measuring cups. So it’s mess-free and hassle-free with minimal washing up!
Why this banana bread recipe is healthy?
Unlike traditional banana bread recipes that call for refined flour, this formula uses whole wheat flour. Whole wheat means that the bran (the grain husk) remains in the flour after milling, which provides you with a whole lot of fiber. The amount of minerals and B vitamins present in whole wheat is also impressive compared to white flour. It’s just generally nutrient-rich, with niacin, folate, thiamin as well as iron, zinc, manganese, and magnesium.
Whereas a typical recipe would be made with processed, white sugar, this healthy banana bread is naturally sweetened with dates. Dates work perfectly in place of empty-calorie sugar because they’re densely sweet but also offer an array of nutrients. Apart from satisfying your sweet tooth, dates are high in fiber plus essential nutrients like vitamin B6, iron and potassium. All of which contribute towards keeping you full for longer and helping you build muscle. If that wasn’t enough, dates are higher than most fruit and veg in polyphenol, an antioxidant that has been known to regulate inflammation. To get the most out of its nutrients, enjoy the fruit during fall and winter when it’s at its freshest. Just be mindful not to overdo it, as with anything else.
Lastly, while most banana bread recipes call for copious amounts of butter, we decided to replace it with a reasonable amount of good-for-you coconut oil. You may be thinking that coconut oil is high in saturated fat, but it’s a healthy saturated fat that has a different effect than most other types of fat out there. It can provide your brain and body with instant energy, which in turn boosts fat-burning – this is why coconut oil is popular in the keto diet. Coconut oil can also raise the good cholesterol in your blood, which is associated with lower risk of heart disease. Try to select the cold-pressed version wherever you can, it’s usually the purest and therefore healthiest production method.
Healthy banana bread recipe
Now that you know about the goodness that’s about to happen inside your belly, you’re all set to give this healthy banana bread recipe a go. The recipe is for one loaf, which yields about 10 servings (depending on how generous you are with the portions).
- 2 eggs
- 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
- ½ cup chopped up Medjool dates
- ⅓ cup melted coconut oil
- ¼ cup milk, non-dairy milk substitute, or water
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 325°F and grease a 5×9” loaf tin.
- In a large bowl, whisk the dates with the coconut oil. Add the eggs and beat well, before adding the mashed bananas and milk.
- Then, add the cinnamon, vanilla extract, baking soda, and salt to the bowl and whisk to blend. As the last ingredient, use a big spoon to stir in the flour until well combined. Don’t worry if your mixture isn’t completely smooth.
- Gently pour the batter into your loaf tin, and sprinkle half of the cinnamon over it. Feel free to get creative and swirl in some patterns with a knife.
- Put in the oven and bake for around 55 minutes. To check if it’s done, insert a toothpick into the center of the loaf. If it comes out clean, it’s done – if not, put it back in. When it’s cooked through, remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the banana bread from the tin and let cool for a further 20 minutes before you dig in.
Healthy banana bread tips
Once you’ve perfected the basic banana bread recipe, don’t hesitate to change it up and make it your own, especially if you have any diet restrictions or are just feeling curious. All you need are a few minor tweaks to make this recipe into something totally new.
Switch it up
In step three of the recipe, try folding some chopped nuts like walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts into the batter. You can also throw in some dark chocolate chips, or any dried fruit you’re in the mood for, and still keep it a healthy banana bread recipe. Raisins would work well, as well as dried cherries or even fresh banana slices. You can also play around with the spices – we added cinnamon to this loaf, but you can experiment with cardamom or nutmeg.
Make it vegan
If you’re following a plant-based diet, can’t handle eggs or would simply rather bake without them, you can replace them with flax seeds. You’ll need one tablespoon of them mixed with three tablespoons of water to replace one egg. Chia seeds or silken tofu would also do the job as a binder in this recipe. In terms of milk, choose from your favorite non-dairy alternatives, like almond, cashew, coconut or oat. Or simply go for water.
Lower the sugar
If you’re keen to cut back on sugar, that’s no problem, simply leave the dates out from the recipe and make it an even more healthy banana bread. Just make sure you use very ripe bananas in your batter. If your bananas aren’t quite as ripe as you’d like them to be, here’s a trick to get them there: place the bananas, with the peel on, on a lined baking tray, then bake them in the oven at 300°F for about 15 minutes.
Reduce the fat
Although we think that this bread contains just the right amount of healthy fat, you’re free to replace the oil with applesauce if you want a lower-fat version.
Try a different flour
Whole wheat flour may not be your thing, but that’s fine because you can use any other type of flour (apart from coconut flour because of it’s super-fine texture) in equal amounts. You can try baking with spelt flour, for example, it usually works well in place of the regular whole wheat flour.
If you’ve gotten this far, we’ll take it you’re into baking. If that’s the case, you’ll probably want some more healthy baking recipes to add to your repertoire. Add your details here, and you’ll get access to our in-house nutritionists’ prized recipes – yummy ones like Almond Muffins, 4-Ingredient Protein Brownies and also Quick Carrot Cake Cookies — plus, all the ones you see in our Great British Bake Off piece.