5 Tips for Making Healthier Banana Bread

published May 31, 2013
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

It’s true that when the weather turns warmer, I don’t bake as often. But when you live in Seattle, that tends to be a slow, evolving process with many people here insisting that summer doesn’t actually start until after July 4th. In other words: we’ve got some baking days left in us yet! I’ve been experimenting with wholesome quick breads for breakfast and had great luck turning oil-laden, sweet recipes into healthier morning options. 

Because I don’t often bake solely with white, all-purpose flour these days, I’m including some whole-grain suggestions here. As every recipe is different and your tastes are likely not the same as mine, these are all rough guides rather than strict formulas — little tricks and tweaks I’ve got up my sleeve that I employ with most muffin, scone, and quick bread recipes. 

Healthify Your Banana Bread (or Muffins):

  1. Swap in some whole-grain flour: Usually with a new recipe, I’ll start by swapping in half the amount of all-purpose flour with a whole-grain flour I’m excited about. For a recipe like banana bread, oat, barley or spelt flour would all be great candidates. This adds a little extra whole-grain nutrition — always a good thing. 
  2. Experiment with natural sugars: Instead of white sugar, you can do a 1:1 swap for a natural, unprocessed sugar like turbinado. Some recipes also rely on honey or even molasses, so you could seek those out in particular. 
  3. Fold in some flax or hemp seeds: A simple little thing I often do to give baking recipes get an extra boost of nutrition is to fold ground flax seeds or hemp seeds into the batter. These add a good hit of protein and essential amino acids. 
  4. Add yogurt or buttermilk for some of the oil: When a recipe calls for all oil, you can often experiment with half yogurt, buttermilk or apple sauce. This, of course, depends on the recipe but quick breads like banana bread can be quite forgiving. I often swap in yogurt for 1/2 the amount of oil and have always had good results.  
  5. Nuts!: Like flax or hemp seeds, nuts are a great way to add a little protein, fiber and essential amino acids. Plus they add a toasty crunch that compliments the mellow sweetness of banana bread so beautifully (walnuts are my go-to here). 

Try a Recipe: Multi-Grain Healthier Banana Bread by Good Life Eats

(Images: Good Life Eats)