Banana Bread, As Healthy As It Gets

healthy banana bread

I am posting this all-American comfort food because somehow people (ok, me) always end up with a few very ripe, brown and spotty bananas just sitting on the counter.

Bananas that are too ripe to eat, but are just perfect for baking.

I make this classic treat quite often in the cold season, because that’s when I buy bananas (the other part of the year my parents’ garden supplies us all with plenty of fresh fruit). This time I felt dedicated to find inventive ways so I could have my cake – and eat it totally guilt free. That meant swapping a few ingredients for a lightened up, better-for-you banana bread that is not only just as delicious as the original, but also wholesome and nourishing.

I believe in tradition, but I also like altering classic recipes sometimes to make healthy treats. It’s all about smart changes. Flavor is super important but the result needs to be lower in calories, sugar and fat and at the same time, higher in fibre, protein and healthy oils.

This banana bread has all those redeeming qualities. It won’t send your blood sugar levels for a loop, not to mention that you can whip this up with just one bowl, a few measuring cups and some basic ingredients. The Husband approves too, so I can assure you: the loaf passed the taste test.

Moist and dense, delicious and filling. Perfect for breakfast and beyond, also freezable. The homey comfort of banana bread, updated to fit a more health-conscious life.

healthy banana bread

Some notes, if I may:

  • This recipe is dairy free.
  • You can make this recipe gluten-free by using a GF flour blend, or oat flour.
  • Bananas: the riper the better. They are super sweet! I actually made this recipe without any sweetening, and it was still totally enjoyable.
  • You can use any other kind of nut meal instead of walnuts, or omit nuts completely. In that case, increase the amount of flour to 1 cup.
  • Sweeten the batter with the natural sweetener of your choice. So far I tried it with birch sugar, honey and maple syrup, all working well.
  • Feel free to substitute the currants with blueberries, cranberries, raisins, or whatever floats your boat.
  • Banana bread keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days, or can be frozen for up to 3 months. It’s best if you slice before freezing to be able to thaw individual pieces.

healthy banana bread

Healthy Banana Bread

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Classic banana bread recipe updated with better-for-you ingredients. Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients

3 very ripe bananas

2 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp natural sweetener of your choice

½ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup walnut meal

½ cup vanilla protein powder

½ cup fresh or frozen blackcurrants

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F), lightly grease a 9×5” loaf pan (or line with parchment paper).
  2. In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork.
  3. Add eggs, salt and sweetener, whisk well.
  4. Add walnut meal, protein powder, flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir to blend with a spoon or spatula, just until combined.
  5. Gently fold in fruits, if using.
  6. Pour batter in pan. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45-50 min.
  7. Let cool in the pan for 10 min before transferring to a wire rack for another 20 min before slicing. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Advertisements

Say Bye to the Cereal Box with Homemade Granola

homemade banana granola

They say in America everything is bigger and better. Surely not everything, but this certainly holds when it comes to the world’s most popular breakfast foods: I’m talking about the granola vs muesli debate. Both are simple, filling, and (more or less) full of good stuff, but there are differences.

Granola, invented in Dansville, NY by Dr. James Caleb Jackson is a sweetened, baked cereal consisting of oats, nuts, seeds, often including mix-ins such as dried fruit or chocolate. Some kind of fat is also added to achieve the crumbly texture.

Muesli on the other hand, introduced by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner, is neither baked nor sweetened, and not that crunchy either.

As a European I feel inclined to say how I enjoy the pure flavor of muesli, how much I appreciate the distinctness and the way oats, nuts and seeds complement one another, but I’ll cut the bullshit right there. Let’s face it: granola is just more delicious. That’s it, I’m sorry Max!

The perked-up version is more popular state-side and humble muesli on this side of the pond. We therefore don’t have such an impressive selection of baked cereals in our supermarkets here. And what we do have is quite expensive for what it is.

My old favorite comes in a big cardboard box with a small plastic bag inside containing just a handful of the simply too sweet stuff bind together with a not specified type of vegetable oil (how reassuring). A 100 g serving contains about 60 g carbohydrates and over 12 g fat. Wow. I still eye that fucker on the store shelf sometimes, but my body just deserves better.

Luckily, making the crunchy clusters at home couldn’t be easier! Replacing the processed, packaged kind is great not only because from now on it’s in your control what goes into your brekkie bowl (I loathe thee, raisin!). It doesn’t have to have a shitload of sugar and fat either!

(I was about to add reducing your ecological footprint too, but had to revise my opinion as the ingredients you’re about to use also come packaged. Bummer.)

homemade banana granola

Checked out many recipes and made a few batches until I found what works best for us. Granola is not an exact science, you have to tweak the ingredients to suit your taste, but that’s the beauty of it: having your own, special edition.

I wanted mine to be free of processed sugar, so I use bananas and a little honey instead to sweaten. Also decided to cut down on fat and substitute it with a healthier alternative: extra virgin olive oil, one of the richest in polyunsaturated fatty acids (a.k.a the good guys).

I use the same seed mix in my granola that I bake into my breads: equal parts sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, lint seeds and pumpkin seeds. As for the nuts, almonds and walnuts are our favorite, but hazelnuts and pecans are also a great choice. For mix-ins, I prefer spices. OK, sometimes I give in and add dark chocolate chips too. 🙂

This amount, kept in a glass jar, lasts for about a week in our house. I like to eat it with low-fat natural yogurt and berries that are a bit sour (just.love.blackcurrant.) while Husband is not that hard-core as he likes to put it, and prefers milk and banana slices drizzled with pure maple syrup.

homemade banana granola

See how a healthier, homemade granola is such a no-brainer:

Banana Granola

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A healthy take on store-bought cereals

Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats (half fine, half coarse)

1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

½ cup almonds, whole or sliced

¼ cup seed mix (sesame, lint, sunflower, pumpkin)

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp allspice

a handful of dark chocolate chips (optional)

2 ripe bananas, mashed

2 tbsp runny honey

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F, line baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. In two separate bowls, mix wet and dry ingredients except chocolate (if using).
  3. Combine wet & dry ingredients well to coat evenly.
  4. Spread mixture on baking tray in a thin layer.
  5. Bake for 30 min or until dark golden.
  6. Allow to cool, than crumble.
  7. Mix in chocolate chips, transfer granola to a glass jar or other airtight container.

How do you do breakfast cereal? I’d love to see some ideas so I can switch things up a bit from time to time.

Love,

Fruzsi

Baked Oatmeal 3 Ways

baked-oatmeal-3-ways-title

Update: For those of you with lactose intolerance, I’ve made the recipes with almond and soy milk too, they both work fine. Simply substitute 1:1 

You guys over there in the US of A seem to have a national day for just about everything, and I love you for that. Why yes, it’s always a good idea to celebrate and/or raise awareness! I honestly think we should copy-paste your National Day Calendar as-is.

Now I know it’s only Monday, but let the preparations start in time because this Saturday marks not just one, but 3 of your National Days. October 29th is National Cat Day, National Oatmeal Day and also National Hermit Day. Not sure about the latter, but please allow my humble Hungarian self to join in on for the other two.

We share a home with two cats and our feral rescue fur babies are literally the cutest, so that one is obvs. And then, there is oatmeal. Oats, the base for “America’s favorite breakfast” oatmeal, are grown mostly for forage here, but started gaining a footing in our kitchens as well. I personally am a big fan and always keep a few packages of Lidl’s Norwaldtaler or Aldi’s Kunsperone Old-Fashioned Oats in my pantry.

Oats are good for you because they contain a type of soluble fibre that slows down the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream: this slower digestion prevents spikes in blood sugar. Also, oats are a rich source of magnesium, which is key to enzyme function and energy production, and helps prevent heart attacks, aiding the heart muscle and regulating blood pressure.

While all oats start off as oat groats after harvest, there are a variety of table oats depending on how much the unbroken grains were processed. If you need clarification on roasting, steaming, and the difference between steel-cut, rolled and instant oats (like I did), this article will answer all your questions.

For my taste, oats are a little bland on their own, but luckily you can dress this ingredient up nicely to make a warm, delicious and deeply comforting meal to start your day off right. It’s just a texture preference of mine and you don’t need to follow suit, but I buy both coarse and fine oats, and mix the two.

We love oat biscuits (the family fav is a walnut-oat biscuit, a particularly guilty pleasure the recipe of which I plan on sharing as we go deeper into the cold season), and I’ve been making a lot of baked oatmeal as well lately for lazy weekend mornings.

The 3 most popular flavors turned out to be banana, apple pie and pumpkin pie (considering fall is in full swing, no surprise there). They are a total no-brainer and reheat beautifully: just store in the fridge and pop the leftover in the microwave. Enjoy with a huge cup of latte!

You can cut down on the sugar if you like, all the added fruits contain plenty of sweetness. Optionally, toast almonds or chopped walnuts in a dry pan to sprinkle on top of your steaming bowl of a hearty breakfast.

BTW, the HF Coors Shirred Egg French Round chefsware in the pictures? Thrifted at the Negreni Fair for $1.25 each. I can’t help but wonder at the food and the kitchens they’ve seen since manufactured in Inglewood, CA up until they got – undamaged! – to a tiny village on the other side of the globe to be found, bargained at, and taken home by me. All that history!

Without further ado, I give you my baked oatmeal recipes:

banana bread baked oatmeal

Baked Banana Bread Oatmeal

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup milk

2 ripe bananas, smashed

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 medium egg

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F)
  2. In a bowl, mix oats, sugar, salt, baking powder and spices.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, vanilla and banana.
  4. Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  5. Transfer to baking dish and bake for about half an hour, until middle is set.

apple pie baked oatmeal

Baked Apple Pie Oatmeal

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup milk

1 cup applesauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 medium egg

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp apple pie spice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F)
  2. In a bowl, mix oats, sugar, salt, baking powder and spices.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, vanilla and applesauce.
  4. Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  5. Transfer to baking dish and bake for about half an hour, until middle is set.

pumpkin pie baked oatmeal

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup milk

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 medium egg

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F)
  2. In a bowl, mix oats, sugar, salt, baking powder and spices.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, vanilla and pumpkin puree.
  4. Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  5. Transfer to baking dish and bake for about half an hour, until middle is set.

Love,

Fruzsi

“Healthy cereals for breakfast” photo featured in title image © evening_tao via freepik

 *Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*