Building a Recipe for Simple, Healthy and Delicious Banana Bread

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread

I used to think that when we started our healthy eating journey that I would have to give up all my favorite foods. Boy was that dumb. Just because you want to eat better doesn’t mean you only eat locusts and wild honey like John the Baptist. It just means you have to tweak your favorite recipes and make them work for you.

I get regular requests for my Banana Bread recipe, so I thought I would use it as an example. My old recipe called for bunches of white sugar and canola oil. It was pretty easy to switch over. Let’s go through a couple options for you and you’ll be changing your old favorites out in no time flat!

Ripe bananas abound here

In the summer, bananas get ripe very fast. I keep mine in the cool basement, but they still don’t last very long. I’ve tried every trick in the book to keep them nice longer, but it doesn’t always work out. But, I’m cool with it. It means I can make this bread and Peanut Butter and Banana Pancakes.

Extremely ripe bananas are quite sweet. You might even consider cutting your sugar amount down a little bit to see if you can tell a difference in the flavor.

Grease and flour that pan!

I have nightmares about cakes and breads sticking to pans. This is likely due to the approximately one million cakes that have stuck in my past.  So, when I make a sweet bread I ALWAYS butter and flour the pan. When I do this, it never sticks. If I get busy and take an easy route, it always sticks. Moral of the story, take the extra 3 minutes to butter and flour your loaf pans.

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

Okay, let’s get started. My original recipe called for white all-purpose flour. I don’t buy this anymore and usually grind most of my wheat. So, I easily converted it and decided to use Whole Wheat Pastry Flour instead. This is the equivalent of soft white wheat berries.  Can I use hard white wheat? Sure! I just like the texture of soft wheat – and keep in mind that you should never use soft white wheat to make a yeast bread. Yeast performs better with hard white wheat berries.

I have not had success using 100% whole wheat flour from the store. It’s too dense. If you’re going to use that, then make sure to cut it with half white flour. A better option would be white wheat flour from King Arthur.

My 5 gallon sucanat bucket

Moving on to the sweetener. I didn’t want to use the white sugar that I used to use…and we don’t even buy it anymore, so I don’t have any around to use. I used sucanat instead. However, that’s just one sweetener that you can use. Your other options are: coconut sugar, brown sugar, or turbinado sugar.

Use what you have worked up to on your health food journey. If you’ve only converted to using white wheat flour, then don’t sweat it if you use white sugar in this recipe. One step at a time…think about your good changes at using wheat. You can convert to better sweeteners when you’re ready.

I don’t like using liquid sweeteners (honey or maple syrup) in this recipe because it seems to mess with the texture. I much prefer using a granulated sugar.

Mix up all the wet ingredients

My last needed conversion for the recipe was a switch from canola oil. While most doctors will tell you canola oil is great for you, I’ve learned through reading that most canola oil on the shelf is already rancid…we just don’t know it because we’re used to it.

At this point in our journey, we use coconut oil and butter. Either of those will work for this recipe – melted butter or melted coconut oil. I use melted butter as a general rule.

Bread batter

Everything else in this recipe was just fine: eggs, nuts, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Those are pretty safe.  :-D

Mix them all up per your recipe instructions and bake away! You’ve just converted your old recipe to a better substitute…and you’ll likely not be able to tell the difference.  You’re a genius – and now you can create your own cookbook.

Stacy’s Banana Bread


Comment Policy: I love hearing your thoughts and input on what I write. Since I write about what works at my house, what pleases my handsome hubby and darling children; I'm sure we'll disagree sometimes. In those cases, do what's right for you and yours. As with any form of communication, please only post comments that move the discussion in a positive direction.

About Stacy

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and Keep Crockin': A Poorganic Slow Cooker Cookbook, and a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom to her two children, Annie (June 2009) and Andy (August 2012). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more to keep up with her daily antics.

  • Pamela

    Thanks!!! I bought a big bag of bananas at the grocery store a couple days ago and was looking for a good banana bread recipe! With my 3 lil ones bananas don’t usually last this long here lol! It’s kinda nice to have some left for once :)

    • Stacy

      Sometimes I go to the store hoping to find browned bananas on clearance just so I can make it…

  • LoriH

    I just learned recently that if you separate the bananas when you get them home, they won’t ripen as quickly? If mine ripen and I am unable to make bread right then, I just pop them in the freezer until I am. They’re not pretty but they’ve worked well in bread for me.

    • Stacy

      I tried that…so did Mama. Maybe it works depending on where you live, but it didn’t work here. :-( Yeah, I put mine in the freezer too – they turn all black and scary looking.

    • Stacy

      So, this morning when I was getting bananas out for breakfast it occurred to me that I didn’t ask you if the splitting bananas thing worked for you – did it? If so, I’m gonna try again. :-) :-)

      • LoriH

        Oh, I haven’t tried it . . . I was just wondering if you had. We’re in a non-banana spell here – nobody seems to want them right now.

        • Stacy

          Goodness! I hope I never go through that spell.

  • Sue Mitchell

    Sounds wonderful, Stacy. I’ve just recently found your website and look forward to reading it every day! We have 5 boys who love to eat so eating healthy is something I’m working towards!

    As for the sugars you recommend…why is brown sugar better than white? Isn’t brown sugar just white sugar with molasses in it? What about Organic white sugar? I know that ANY sugar in excess is a problem – whether honey, white, brown. We have huge bags of good, organic sugar at Costco and wonder your thoughts on that.

    • Stacy

      Well, some say that brown sugar is just a bit (but not much) better than white because there are trace minerals in molasses. I just think it tastes yummy. Ha! Anyway, I buy, and use very rarely, organic white sugar. I try to stay away from things that are not naturally white because I know they’ve likely been bleached. However, for some things you just really want white sugar. :-) Good question.

  • Angelia Thomas

    I am going to try doing this recipe this fall. I will have to substitute flours as I have gluten allergy, so it will be interesting to see how this turns out.

    • Stacy

      Let us all know how the gluten free switch goes! :-)

    • Sarah Harris

      I have found that a mixture of rice flour, buckwheat flour, chickpea flour and I forget the other one right now, works quite well. (I have found that with gluten free you NEED to use a mixture of flours!) I also use honey and olive oil. I think because it is gluten free this helps it to bind together, but mine never lasts long enough to tell if it dries out or anything! It also work quite well as muffins and does freeze well (if I use oil). My husband loves pulling them out of the freezer and eating them as a frozen snack!

      • Stacy

        Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

  • Cynthia

    Okay, where did you put that hidden camera? I made my banana bread just yesterday and did the changes you talked about….in fact, I was eating some when I started to read your blog this morning. I guess great minds really do think alike. ;-)

    • Stacy

      :-) It’s so easy to switch out – I just started doing it at the beginning…but this recipe is just one that ALWAYS turns out, so I love it.

  • http://snailpacetransformations.com Victoria@snailpacetransformations

    I always wondered what is the health benefit of switching over to sucanat over granulated sugar, I have seen several bloggers that use it, but never a write up as to why it is better.

    • Stacy

      Here is my list of natural sweeteners that we use: http://www.stacymakescents.com/natural-sweeteners
      Basically, it goes through much less processing – that’s our goal in our eating…to eat things as close as possible to the way God made them – with the 80/20 rule thrown in there. :-)

  • Jonni

    Thank you so much for showing me how easy it is to modify my recipes. I have been using coconut oil for some things, and was wondering if you could just trade straight across the board. Thanks again.

    • Stacy

      Yep! I don’t buy canola oil anymore. :-)

  • Tara H

    I love this! I have just started doing this thanks to blogs like your’s. When I first got married (11 years ago) I didn’t know how to cook…I could barely open a can! :) Now I cook and just in the last couple years have started cooking healthy.

    • Stacy

      It’s so much fun to learn to cook. :-) I remember the first biscuits I made for Barry….we still laugh about that. Ha!

  • Rebecca

    I have converted my ginger snap cookie recipe to a healthier version. I use whole wheat flour and turbindo sugar. I actually like it better than the original! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I have a gallon bag full of frozen, ripe bananas in the freezer I need to use up.

    • Stacy

      Barry LOVES gingersnaps!

  • Stacey

    Have you tried making muffins with this recipe? The Manlings like to be able to grab them on the way out the door to Votech…and I hate wrapping up individual bread slices to freeze. (Yeah, yeah…I’m lazy, I know. LOL)

    Muffin papers or no?

    • Stacy

      I haven’t tried with this particular recipe, because there’s another one I use if I want to make muffins…but I would think it would work. I use muffin papers sometimes – just depends on my mood. Papers would insure they wouldn’t stick coming out. :-)

  • Audrey

    In my Banana bread I always use Stevia instead of sugar, no eggs, and applesauce instead of oil… no one can tell the difference! :-)

    • Stacy

      I’m always looking for ways to get our healthy fats in…hence my use of coconut oil and butter. :-)

  • http://vintageboomer.blogspot.com/ Dmarie Michael

    I freeze my bananas. I’ve done that for years.

    • Stacy

      I freeze such large quantities of stuff that I have to limit how many bananas I freeze…right now I’m trying to stock with produce and casseroles. But they work so fabulously frozen that it’s hard to resist. ;-)

  • karen

    freezing bananas always turns the skin black, but the banana inside is perfect. you can even freeze bananas that aren’t super ripe, and they will look rotten, but the banana inside will be white and perfect for cooking with or making ice cream with.

    • Stacy

      I think it’s always creepy to see them in there all black looking…so I make sure to put mine where I can’t see them. LOL

      • Traci

        I peel my bananas (no scary black peel), break in half, place on a cookie sheet and freeze. They call this flash-freezing. After they are frozen, I pop them in a freezer bag and they don’t stick together. This works with a lot of things – even bread that you want to eat one piece at a time, certain fruits, etc.

        • Stacy

          I just LOVE flash freezing!!! :-) I’m getting ready to do some of that later today.

  • Anne

    Thanks for the recipe! I love that you suggested coconut oil. I made the recipe into muffins and I think I probably could have used less coconut oil as it was leaking out the bottom of the muffin papers. It was super yummy but I think I will try applesauce instead next time. Keep the recipes coming please!

    • Stacy

      Muffin papers seem to absorb oils and butter for me anytime I’m making muffins instead of cupcakes – so I usually just go without unless I’m taking them somewhere. :-)

  • http://houseorangewall.blogspot.com/ Sunshine

    On Good Eats, Alton Brown explained the dynamics of why one should freeze bananas for baked goods. However, that’s after they get pretty ripe on their own and then slice them up so handling them is easier after removing from the freezer. This is the only way I do my bananas for banana bread now. And I wanted to note about King Arthur: They have the best whole wheat products anywhere. They also have an awesome company that works with their employees very nicely. In addition, I’ve asked them about GMO wheat and they swear they don’t work with farmers that use them. I just wish they had a larger organic availability.

    • Stacy

      I LOVE King Arthur! Saving up swagbucks for the Whole Grain cookbook. :-)

      • Julia

        The King Arthur whole grain cookbook is Fabulous!

        • Stacy

          I drool over it.

  • http://quickeasycheaphealthy.com Anne @ Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy

    Where in the world do you get a 5-gallon bucket full of sucanat?!

    • Stacy

      Uhhhh, well actually I have two. ;-) I bought a 50 pound bag from Bread Beckers.

  • Chrissy

    I have also read that the reason you can’t tell canola is rancid is because it is processed and deodorized to prevent any odors from developing, no matter how old or funky it gets. This seems likely, considering I have never, ever had a bottle of canola go bad and I rarely used it. Now I won’t buy it. Plus there isn’t a non-genetically modified source of it, that I am aware of, anyway. That darn Monsanto. Blech.

    • Stacy

      Monsanto is not on my Nice list.