There is something about September that makes me crave Banana Bread. For me, I see it as a great transition from the light, berry desserts of summer to the heartier apple and pumpkin desserts of fall. The weather is just starting to show signs of changing here in Florida. The days are becoming shorter and the high temperatures are struggling to reach 90° anymore. These slight environmental changes are what trigger my changing taste buds each year.
In order to continue to enjoy banana bread like I have in the past, I needed to create a healthier alternative that would fit into my changing lifestyle. Banana bread may seem like a healthy dessert but it is often loaded with unnecessary sugar and can have upwards of 10 grams of fat per slice and over half being from saturated fat, which is no bueno!!! So with all of these bad numbers can banana bread actually become healthier? The answer is yes.
There are many ways to shave calories and fat off of banana bread while adding in essential nutrients that make you feel a lot less guilty for indulging your cravings. Some swap wheat flour for coconut flour. Others add applesauce in place of butter or oil. I do not like these alternatives because I feel like the bread ends up tasting too much like coconut or apple when I want it to taste only of banana. In order to shave the bad and replace it with some good, I first cut out the eggs. Eggs are good but as the saying goes, too much of a good thing can be bad. Since I still want my eggs at breakfast I cut them out of the bread. Next, I replaced butter with olive oil, which also replaced a significant amount of saturated fat with healthier poly & monounsaturated fats. Another swap was allowing plain Greek yogurt to stand in for the typical sour cream called for in most conventional recipes. The addition of Greek yogurt not only helps shave down the bad qualities in traditional banana bread but it also adds beneficial protein, probiotics, vitamin B12, potassium, and calcium. Also by adding the yogurt I was able to cut down on the amount of olive oil needed. In order to cut down on the amount of white flour without changing the texture too much, I replaced half of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour. If those changes weren’t enough I decided to sneak in some flaxseed to add heart healthy omega 3s and use only very ripe bananas to cut back on added sugar. Don’t be tempted to use those barely ripe bananas you just bought at the store no matter how much you may want to try this recipe. If the bananas are not overly ripe the bread will not taste as sweet and you will likely be disappointed. The reason this step is so important is because as the banana ripens, the natural sugars concentrate and the flavor matures. Many overlook this step and it is the most crucial. If you have to skip this step for whatever reason, you may have to bump up the sugar to 1 ½ cups to keep it as sweet, but keep in mind if you do the nutritional values will change.
Although there have been many alterations to this recipe to make it more nutritious it still produces a tasty loaf. I enjoy a slice as a late night snack but it would also be great with coffee or tea at breakfast. The following recipe will produce 2 loaves of bread and approximately 24 servings. A serving size is one slice that weighs approximately 2 oz. Total preparation time for this recipe is approximately 1 ½ hours. If you are following Weight Watchers, one slice is 4 Points or 5 Points Plus.
Skinny Banana Nut Bread
- 6.8 oz. (1 ½ cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 7.2 oz. (1 ½ cups) Whole-Wheat Flour
- ½ cup Flaxseed Meal
- 2 tsp. Baking Powder
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 2 tsp. Baking Soda
- 2 cups Very Ripe Bananas; mashed (about 4 large)
- 1 cup Walnuts; chopped
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
- ½ cup Olive Oil
- Olive Oil Cooking Spray
- Preheat the oven to 325°. Prepare two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans by coating all sides with cooking spray.
- Combine flours, flaxseed, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk until mixed. In a medium bowl, combine banana, walnuts, sugar, vanilla, yogurt, and oil. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
- Pour the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Gently run a knife around perimeter of bread to loosen from sides. Remove loafs from pans and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
(One 2 oz. Slice)
Weight Watchers: 4 Points or 5 Points Plus