I adore all fruit, especially bananas, but my boyfriend won't touch anything other than a singular apple once in a blue moon. That means that often my fruit goes a bit squishy and brown around the edges before I've had a chance to munch into it; all is not lost though, as those slightly mushy bananas make the perfect base for a classic banana bread recipe. It may taste great, but traditionally banana bread isn't exactly seen as a healthy snack thanks to its high sugar and fat content - so I decided to tinker around with the recipe and see if I could create something a little bit better for me than basically a slab of slightly soggy cake.
The basic recipe I used was from the BBC Food site, but I adapted it to suit my needs and remove the things I didn't want to include; the great thing about cooking is that it should be experimental - chuck things in and see what happens! In simplistic terms, I swapped out the flour for a gluten free alternative made with beans and pulses, the butter and milk for a soya/almond alternative (as I'm intolerant to dairy,) replaced white with brown sugar (which is nutritionally marginally better) and halved the amount recommended. Overly ripe bananas are naturally very sweet, and by adding three tablespoons of maple syrup (a natural sweetener that features over 54 antioxidants,) I was able to retain the delicious sweet flavour we know and love without too much badness. To boost the flavour and nutritional benefits I added in crushed almonds, chia seeds and raw cacoa powder (this superfood tastes chocolatey, but it's a great source of magnesium and iron) to give my banana bread a chocolatey-nutty feel. The results were yummy! Here's the full list of ingredients and steps to create it yourself...
285g/10oz gluten free plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
110g/4oz soya butter alternative
110g/4oz brown sugar
2 medium sized eggs
5 ripe bananas, mashed
85ml/3floz almond milk
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp raw cacoa powder
3 tbsp crushed almonds
3 tbsp chia seeds
STEP 1: Cream together the sugar and butter, adding in the maple syrup when the two are fully mixed.
STEP 2: Sieve together all the dry ingredients into a separate bowl and thoroughly mix.
STEP 3: Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and gently whisk with the almond milk; add into the sugar/butter mix.
STEP 4: Mash up the bananas in a bowl and add into the wet mix. Chuck in any remaining ingredients (except the dry flour mix) and bring together using an electric whisk.
STEP 5: Gradually add the dry flour mix into the wet mix a little at a time, whisking together intermittently.
STEP 6: Grease a bread tin with a touch of butter, pouring the mixture in until there's about a centimetre of space to the top. If there's any excess, why not make little mini banana bread cakes like me?
STEP 7: Pop the tin into your (pre-heated) oven at around 180 degrees for an hour, setting a timer to check on progress every twenty minutes.
STEP 8: When it's golden brown, risen and cooked thoroughly (the top should be cracked - pierce with a fork and ensure the spikes come away clean,) leave to cool for at least an hour before slicing.
This is a very moist recipe, so to keep it fresher for longer I'd advise you keep the bread in the microwave rather than the fridge or in a cake tin - it prevents moisture loss and keeps it tasting great. Although I'll no doubt tinker around with the recipe the next time I need a banana bread fix (no two things ever end up the same in my kitchen!) I was really pleased with how it came out. It's tasty, sweet enough without giving my blood sugar levels a breakdown, full of superfoods and a great snack come 3pm. It may still contain sugar and butter, but in my book adding in ingredients that are actually beneficial reduce the negative impact this may well have had on my daily intake. Finally I'm enthusiastic about cooking again - as well as eating my creations!
Let me know if you give this recipe a go, or if you have any healthy recipes of your own you think I should try...
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