Guilt-free banana bread

Food that’s healthy doesn’t have to taste like cardboard. I recently tried a recipe where the chef obviously didn’t get the memo.

It was billed as “healthy banana bread,” and had whole wheat flour, honey instead of sugar and unsweetened applesauce instead of shortening, among the other ingredients. So far so good. However, I should have realized that a recipe that also had no flavorings or spices would be pretty uninteresting. I tried it, and was overwhelmingly unimpressed. It was dry and tasteless.

For some reason, I didn’t just trash the recipe. I decided to tweak it instead. What I ended up with is practically a new recipe altogether, so I can safely say the result isn’t plagiarized.

I decided to use whole wheat pastry flour for a nice texture, and I made sure the honey was raw, which is SO much better tasting than processed honey. It also contains more vitamins and minerals. (And keep in mind that much store-bought honey is imported from other countries and is actually flavored corn syrup!)

The last change I made was to use grape-seed oil instead of applesauce. Most people now admit that fat doesn’t have to be eliminated altogether in order to have “healthy”; you just have to use the right kind of fat. Grape-seed oil doesn’t have a flavor of its own, which can be a plus, and it’s high in healthy omega 6 oils. I could also have used coconut oil, another healthy fat, and its coconut flavor would blend well with bananas for a tropical taste. Next time, I just might do that.

Anyway, here’s the final recipe–so far. Tweaking is never entirely done!

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup grape-seed oil
3/4 cups raw honey
2 eggs, beaten slightly
3 mashed overripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange flavoring
1 tsp rum flavoring
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/3-1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Banana breadIn a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and dry spices. In a separate bowl, mix together oil and honey. Stir in eggs, mashed bananas, and liquid flavorings until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture just until moistened, and mix in raisins. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

The results isn’t just banana bread, it’s more like a spice cake. You can adjust the amounts of the spices to favor the ones you like the best. I like to slice the bread, wrap each piece in waxed paper, and freeze it, taking out only a slice or two at a time. That way, there’s always a healthy, tasty treat on hand for visitors, or when you get the munchies.

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About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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2 Responses to Guilt-free banana bread

  1. blb1 says:

    I can’t imagine the chef not using any spices. Monica I would have no idea any more where to get raw honey. Before becoming diabetic and when the kids were young there was a man near us that sold it. No idea which house on the street we went to and I don’t speak Spanish so wouldn’t venture there now.

    • Monica Sawyn says:

      I can’t imagine no spices, either. They can totally revitalize a boring recipe. As for the honey, I would think a health food store would have some. I’m fortunate in that we have a few people around here who keep bees. I was astounded at the difference in flavor. It costs more, but it’s worth it.

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