You know what’s not fun? Battling the flu when there’s ample sunshine outside. You’re stuck in the house because you’ve spent the last three days trying to do things normal people things like breathe without feeling like you just ran a marathon. And getting sick with little kids around is like sprinting while holding scissors, just as dangerous and unpleasant as it sounds. You race toward the end, praying there aren’t any injuries but the odds are almost never in your favor. The only redeeming part of being sick, while the kiddos are also sick, is the making of banana bread.
Really, who can say no to a pathetic little voice that croaks out “banana bread, please” when asked what she wants for breakfast? Now, replace that croak with the sound of an 80-year-old chain smoker and you’ll end up very close to what the Little Diva sounds like with a sore throat. And whether out of pity or fear of that voice, I set out to make banana bread.
has should have a go-to recipe that serves as the foundation for all things banana bread. I’ve had mine for over ten years and I’ve been tweaking it for years and years, depending on my mood. I enjoy the cake-like, filled with butter and sugar, bread-only-by-name banana bread. But lately, I’ve been feeling really good about a less sweet, more hearty but moist-as-cake version of banana bread. I mean this bread has tremendous staying power; it’s the kind of banana bread I eat for breakfast and keeps me full until lunchtime. Guys, what is even happening here? Are my grown-up instincts taking over and allowing me to enjoy more refined and healthy foods? Or maybe it’s finally all about moderation.
By making a few smart swaps- white whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour; coconut oil for butter; maple syrup and brown sugar for white sugar; and adding fat-free greek yogurt for protein and moisture- a classic, calorie heavy, dense bread (more like dessert) becomes a much lighter and smarter choice when you’re really trying to stay on track. My banana muffins are more of a traditional banana bread texture, if you’re looking for that refined flour and sugar taste. Hey, judgement free-zone, dude//banana bread does not discriminate. Or try the blueberry muffins for that same moist, cake flavor with a twist.
Start with the ripest of bananas. When I say ripe, I mean R-I-P-E. Like when you’re cleaning out your fruit bowl and the bananas are no longer yellow, but a deep, dark black because you forgot all about them and kept eating the oranges because oranges, man. Oranges. Don’t throw those bananas away. Use THOSE. Yes, yes, those bananas have amazing, almost honey-like sweetness and a rich flavor that you can’t add with sugar. So lesson of the day: the blacker the spots on a banana, the better it is for bread or baked goods in general.
I usually cut up overripe bananas, freeze them on a sheet pan flat for 30 minutes, then transfer into a freezer bag to use for smoothies, banana bread, or a guiltless ice cream. All the potassium and none of the heaviness of fat that you find in traditional dessert! I could go on and on, detailing the 1,000,001 ways to use an overripe banana but you get my point. What else do you use ripe bananas for?
Have you tried white whole wheat flour? If (un)bleached all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour had a baby, white whole wheat would be it. It has all the fiber and nutritional density of whole wheat flour without the overwhelming flavor. White whole wheat flour has a slightly nutty texture and taste, making it the perfect foundation for hearty breads like banana bread but I suspect it would be equally delicious as a roux in gumbo. If you try it, let me know how it tastes!
I’ve tried this recipe with a few different variations and my favorite combination is using 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce and 1/2 cup fat-free greek yogurt. Oh my yum is this bread moist- in spite of being made with a denser, heartier flour! The bananas, greek yogurt, and applesauce all work overtime to make that magic happen. I mean, this bread is dense, as in it weighs over a pound but the lightness from this combination is some serious magic ✨.
So really, what are you waiting for? Bake this bread and when you do, snap a picture and hashtag #mannaandspice! Change it up by adding:
- chocolate chips
- peanut butter chips/peanut butter swirls
- ribbons of Nutella (please invite me over when you do)
- dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, etc.)
- cream cheese
- any other kind of nuts
- 4 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup fat-free greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Grease a 9X5 loaf pan and set aside.
- Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, combine bananas, yogurt, applesauce, coconut oil and beat with a wire whisk until combined. Add one egg at a time, whisking well to completely incorporate. Stir in vanilla, maple syrup, and brown sugar.
- Gently stir in dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Do not overmix. Stir in walnuts, if adding.
- Pour batter into loaf pan and smooth to an even layer.
- Bake for 55-60 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool on wire rack. Store in airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze for 2-3 months.