Tuesday, September 1, 2015

4 Ways to Make Banana Bread Healthier

We were at my mom's house a few days ago, and she had made several loaves of banana bread. She was going to take them around to people in her church group. She had a loaf sliced that she and my dad were eating and she offered to slice up some for us. 

It was actually comical to sit at her kitchen table and watch my family Devour her loaves of banana bread. I think she really thought that she was going to get away with slicing 4 or 5 pieces off the loaf that she had already cut into and them putting it away and taking those other loaves to friends. 

My husband and children (and myself - I can't lie) had other plans! We totally felt as hungry and needy as the people in her ward. 

Probably as long as my mom has been married, she has been making banana bread from my Grandma Violet's recipe. It is the only recipe that I ever use (even though I alter mine quite a bit now). I grew up knowing what I thought banana bread should look and taste like - my grandma always have bits of unmixed baking soda in hers - it was always Awful to bite into that piece! But it always had a beautiful crack down the center top and it was moist and a good crumb. It probably disappeared just as fast as it does now. 

My Grandma's Banana Bread Recipe: 

1⁄2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
4 bananas, finely crushed
1 1⁄2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla


Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and crushed bananas. Combine well.
Sift together flour, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla.
Pour into greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
Keeps well, refrigerated. (if it lasts that long)

This poor loaf didn't even make it to pictures.

Banana bread is one of those recipes that can have a lot of stuff in it that isn't great for you - and a few things that aren't really good for you all added to one recipe can end up being really not good for you.

Lots of butter / shortening, Sour Cream, loads and loads of sugar - it can all really add up quickly.

But with such a delicious flavor and the additional sweetness and texture of the bananas, it is a really wonderful to start making healthy substitutions with.

Tip One - Use less Sugar - This is really a less is more tip, and less really is more. Try cutting your sugar by a 1/3 the first time, and adding more banana. I also substitute brown sugar for white sugar. It isn't that one is better for you than the other, but I think that brown sugar has a better "flavor" and so the bread isn't lacking for any depth of flavor when you leave out sugar.

Tip Two - Use a Whole Grain Flour - You can substitute at least 1/2 of your A/P flour with a whole grain flour without too much of a flavor and texture difference. But I actually enjoy using a wheat whole grain flour for all the flour called for in the recipe. I think it adds an amazing nutty flavor and the texture doesn't change at all. *Remember that Whole Wheat - does NOT mean Whole Grain!* Also you can use oat flour, spelt flour, buckwheat flour - I haven't used rice or coconut flours, but I bet you could use those too.

Tip Three - Add Healthy Fruit & Nuts -  In addition to adding more bananas (tip one), you can add blueberries, dried apricots, coconut - just fold them in at the end after you have combined your wet and dry ingredients. My mother-in-law doesn't make banana bread without adding walnuts, but I prefer pecans and believe it or not sun flower seeds are amazing in banana bread.

Tip Four - Use Less Butter and More Buttermilk - Buttermilk is fantastic in banana bread. By using a combination of 1 cup of nonfat buttermilk plus 2 tablespoons of canola oil, you can get away with almost no butter—just 2 measly tablespoons. In addition to lending a pleasant tangy flavor, buttermilk helps keep your bread moist as it bakes.