I am not sure who came up with the idea for banana bread, but what a great way to use up those ripe bananas! I buy bananas regularly and they often start to brown quicker than our family can consume them. Sometimes I slice a few, stick them in ziploc bags, and store them in the freezer for smoothies. My other favorite way to use them is for banana bread.
I’ve baked several versions of banana bread over the years — chocolate chip banana bread, butterscotch banana bread, banana-nut bread, oatmeal banana bread, banana streusel bread…
And the latest version is this healthier banana-walnut bread!
When it comes to baking some of my favorite recipes are things like traditional brownies and cinnamon rolls. It’s also nice to have some healthier versions of my favorite treats, especially because I enjoy baking so much. But substituting ingredients to make a recipe healthier can mean a bit of trial and error.
Applesauce can sometimes be a substitute for butter/oil when it comes to baking, and I’ve tried that before with banana bread. I did that this time around and also used a little bit of Greek yogurt (both help with the moisture content and holding everything together). I also decreased the sugars and substituted whole wheat flour for some of the all-purpose flour.
Overall, it was a win in my home and turned out surprisingly moist!
I checked my bread after about 50 minutes and the inside was still a bit gooey so I set the timer and walked away. As a mama with a young child and an never-ending to-do list, it’s really important for me to set a timer when I bake because I get distracted. 😉 This loaf got a little browner on top than I wanted, but thankfully that didn’t impact the taste. The way I’ve avoided this in the past is to loosely cover the loaf with aluminium foil when it’s not quite ready to come out the oven but is starting to brown.
I’m forever experimenting with the use of whole wheat flour in baking. It packs more nutritional content such as fiber, but some things turn out dense and heavy. For this recipe, I used a ratio of 2 parts whole wheat flour to 1 part all-purpose flour and it worked pretty well.
For sweetness, I went with pure maple syrup. I only used a 1/4 cup of maple syrup and the bread was refreshingly not too sweet, but next time I might sweeten it just a tad bit more. I also used cinnamon which I think tends to bring out a touch of sweetness.
Rather than butter (which I’m not afraid to use, just ask my husband!), I used unsweetened applesauce (which also adds a bit of sweetness) and plain Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt just about dominates the yogurt isle at the grocery store (at least where I live) and I’m a fan of it. I eat it plain, use it in smoothies, and sometimes even use it in baking. The tang of the yogurt does come through in this bread so if that doesn’t suit your palette, I would use a little less yogurt and bit more applesauce.
Since there’s no oil/butter in this bread it’s essential that you thoroughly grease your bread pan!
I chose to use walnuts as an add-in but they’re completely optional. Other add in ideas are chocolate chips, raisins, etc. You could also experiment with other spices like nutmeg.
I enjoyed this bread, my husband thought it was tasty and so did my son minus the nuts. Overall a keeper!
What about you…what’s your favorite version of banana bread?
Healthier Banana-Walnut Bread
Yield: 1 9×5 loaf
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ -1/3 cup maple syrup (adjust for preference of sweetness)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup walnuts
- In a large bowl, mix together the bananas, eggs, yogurt, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix together. Don’t overmix. Fold in walnuts.
- Pour batter into a well-greased 9×5 bread pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If the top browns too quickly, loosely cover with aluminum foil.
- Remove from oven and let bread rest in the pan for 5-10 minutes before transferring onto a cooling rack. After the first day, store in the fridge for up to one week.