I often get the urge to bake, which isn’t always ‘waistline friendly’. That said, one of my favorite things to do is turn decadent recipes into healthier alternatives. Although this version of banana bread is healthier than a traditional recipe, it packs a ton of flavor without sacrificing taste.
My love for banana bread is thanks to my mom – her recipe is the best. I had the idea to take her classic recipe and turn it into something healthier, so I wouldn’t feel guilty gobbling up the entire thing! Ingredients like almond flour, coconut sugar, Greek yogurt & honey make this recipe much healthier than a typical banana bread.
Let’s talk about coconut sugar – I’ve recently become obsessed with this product because it’s delicious & better for you than other sugars. Derived from cut flower buds of the coconut palm, this natural sweetener needs little processing. The nectar is simply dried to a crystallized form then packaged & sold in stores – I bought mine at Whole Foods. Because this is a natural sweetener & derived from coconut palm, it’s rich in vitamins & minerals like potassium, zinc, iron & B vitamins. Here’s a link to my favorite brand of coconut sugar & how I got all this useful information: Madhava Organic Coconut Sugar. The reason I bring this product up, is I tested it in my banana bread recipe to see if it really is a 1:1 ratio to white sugar. The answer – it certainly tasted that way! By the way, it’s also really delicious in coffee or tea!
- Use ‘rotten’ bananas. This may be a gross concept to some, but bananas should be extremely ripe (or over-ripened) before adding to this recipe. By extremely ripe, I mean mostly black/brown on the outside and quite mushy.
- What to do if you don’t like or have ‘rotten’ bananas. If you’re grossed out by over-ripened bananas or don’t have any ripe enough, take this shortcut: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay individual, unpeeled bananas on a lined baking sheet. Add the bananas to the oven & bake for 20-40 minutes, or until the peels are totally black (bake time will vary depending on the amount of bananas). Let the bananas cool completely before handling.
- Cover the bread. For the last 15-20 minutes of bake-time, I covered the bread with tin foil. Have you ever tried making a bread/loaf & found that the outside browns or burns before the inside cooks? This will help prevent that. Once the outside of the bread browns, covering with tin foil and returning to the oven will allow the middle to cook through before the outside burns.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use Fage), at room temperature
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2 medium bananas, over-ripened (If you have only fresh bananas, follow the tip above!)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour/meal
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup dark chocolate chunks (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with butter or all natural non-stick spray then set aside.
- Un-peel each banana then using the back of a fork, mash until mostly smooth. Set aside.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, yogurt, coconut sugar, vanilla & eggs. With the mixer on low, stir in the mashed bananas.
- Separately in a medium bowl, combine the baking soda, salt, almond flour/meal and whole wheat flour.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until completely incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, fold the chocolate chunks into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle additional chocolate chunks atop the batter, if desired.
- Bake for 40 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven, cover with tin foil then return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes. You'll know the bread is done once it passes the toothpick test.
- The toothpick test - stick a toothpick in the middle of the bread. If the toothpick comes out completely clean, it's cooked through. If the bread is still moist in the middle, pop it back into the oven for 5 minutes.
- If you're not adding chocolate, pour the batter into the prepared baking dish once the dry ingredient have been mixed into the wet.