One of the best smells in the whole entire world is fresh baked banana bread. It's one of my favorite recipes to make when I've had a bad day and am feeling grumpy or sad. After about 10 minutes of easy prep, I can sit back and relax while my home fills with the warm fragrance of sweet banana, vanilla & cinnamon. Bye bye stress, hello endorphins!
Despite the fact that baking banana bread is legit kitchen therapy and brings me to my happy place, I've considered it a "special occasion" treat for years because all the classic recipes I tried called for generous amounts of cane sugar.
Classic Banana Bread: Dessert or Breakfast Fare?
Combine that sugar with the already sweet bananas and you're pretty much at dessert level. Which is fine if you want to treat it as such, but most of these super sweet banana bread recipes are categorized as breakfast or afternoon snacks...
I don't know about you, but when my breakfast consists of lots of refined flour + sugar, I crash HARD and feel horrible (i.e. exhausted and hungry) within 1-2 hours. I used to feel like this DAILY back in high school and early college. I thought it was normal to go through peaks & valleys all day long feeling tired and then wired. Nope, nope, nope!
Thankfully, I developed a passion for cooking in my early 20s and this was when I discovered that the food I was eating (Standard American Diet fare of fat-free, low-fat, lots of sugar, grains & refined flours) was the source of my digestive and energy issues. This is what spurred my real food journey and I am SO grateful I am on a different path now.
Maybe you're nothing like me and you can handle eating cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, and French toast casserole multiple times a week for breakfast. More power to you! (I'm kinda jealous.) However, I'm guessing that most of the folks reading this are in the same camp as me.
In the past few years, I've made it a mini project of mine to remake classic recipes with way less sugar (and usually only unrefined sweeteners) so I can enjoy them again for breakfast or a snack without experiencing a blood sugar crash afterward.
I already did this with peanut butter balls, flourless peanut butter cookies, and peaches and cream muffins and can't wait to add more to the list, like today's banana bread.
What Makes This Banana Bread Recipe Healthy?
You're probably wondering what makes this banana bread recipe healthier, right? Yes, I know "healthy" is a subjective term, but according to my food philosophy, here are a few things...
1) DIFFERENT FLOUR
I swapped out the typical all-purpose or 100% whole wheat durum flour for all-purpose Einkorn wheat flour. This makes a BIG difference. As soon as I made the switch to Einkorn wheat for pasta and baking/cooking, I noticed that I no longer experienced a "carb coma" after eating foods with it (like a big plate of penne pasta). Simply put, Einkorn wheat makes my belly VERY happy. Never heard of it? Here's a bit more info...
- is the most ancient and pure wheat
- is the only wheat never hybridized
- has a higher protein count than modern wheat
- has slightly higher amounts of vitamins, trace minerals, and fiber
- has less starch than regular wheat
- has a different type of gluten than modern wheat so it may be easier to digest for those with gluten sensitivities
2) UNREFINED SWEETENER (AND LESS OF IT)
Instead of refined cane sugar, this recipe uses real maple syrup and way less of it than is called for in most classic banana bread recipes. Real maple syrup (NOT pancake syrup) is minimally processed, contains trace vitamins and minerals, and also tastes a bit sweeter than cane sugar so you can use less of it in a recipe.
3) HEALTHY FAT
Instead of the highly processed vegetable, canola, or soybean oil (not considered real food) called for in most banana bread recipes, this version uses a healthier cooking fat like avocado oil or melted coconut oil.
The combination of a flour with a higher protein count, way less sweetener, and a healthy fat in the banana bread creates a good balance of protein, fat & carbs that can help keep blood sugar levels balanced versus fixing a recipe with refined flour, sugar & little fat which may send them crashing.
Note: This is also why I like to add high-quality hydrolyzed collagen powder to my baked goods because the extra source of clean, tasteless protein keeps me full longer and helps to balance my blood sugar.
Healthy Means It'll Taste Like Cardboard, Right?
Not in my world, friend.
I'm over the fat-free, bone-dry, tastes like sawdust and makes you reach for a tall glass of water recipes of my youth. Done, done, done.
Give me the fat, give me the flavor, give me the moisture!
Contrary to what the title might conjure in your head, this banana bread recipe is moist (so important in a quick bread), sweet (but not too sweet), and fragrant.
Exactly what banana bread is supposed to be. And the texture is wonderful. Perfect for thick, warm slices slathered with nut butter, regular butter, or jam. I typically eat it this way in the evening with almond butter and a cup of hot herbal tea. So cozy!
This is now my go-to banana bread recipe and all future versions will likely be tweaked versions of this one. :)
Recipe adapted from Cookie and Kate's Healthy Banana Bread and Allrecipes' Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread (which is the recipe Kate originally adapted hers from)
Notes & Tips
- I have only tried this recipe with the Einkorn wheat flour, which acts the same as all-purpose flour; however, this is based on two other recipes that use 100% whole wheat flour so that should work just fine, as well as regular all-purpose flour if that's all you have.
- If you have a gluten-free flour that works the same as all-purpose or whole wheat and doesn't require different ratios of moisture (less or more liquid), then that should technically work, as well. Please let me know if you try this!
- Frozen banana bread slices reheat well straight from the freezer, so I like to flash freeze the slices the first day I bake them, store them in a ziplock bag, and pull them out one at a time to warm up under the broiler when I'm ready for a quick snack.
- Bonus: If you want to order my favorite collagen that I linked to above, I have a coupon code just for my readers! Enter RISING10 at checkout for 10% off your total. :)
I'd like to hear from YOU!
Do you prefer quick bread recipes that are sweeter or less sweet? What did you grow up eating?
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