Every family has a favorite recipe for banana bread that goes back generations. A slice of moist banana bread always reminds me of home. As a young child, I remember my mother mashing bananas and sprinkling oatmeal and drizzling honey on top for me to eat. Until today, bananas (especially mashed with oatmeal and honey) are one of my favorite snacks or breakfast foods. When there are no more bananas in my kitchen, I know it’s time to go food shopping (whether I really need to or not). Banana bread is the first thing I think of when my bananas are turning slightly brown and becoming extra sweet.
If you don’t have time to make this recipe when your bananas are calling to be used, you can store the ripened bananas in a plastic bag and freeze them until ready to make the bread (thaw them first before using). They will also survive an extra day or two in the refrigerator. Likewise, if your bananas are not “banana bread ready,” there’s a little trick I share (read below) to make them at least a little sweeter and ready for baking.
About this recipe
This recipe is adapted from nutrition expert Manuel Villacorta’s “Applesauce Agave Banana Bread” that he shares in his new book The Carb-Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Embrace Your Hunger, and Keep the Weight Off for Good. (Click here for more information on the book and a chance for Food Cookture readers to win a free book or a free gift with purchase!). I added walnuts to the recipe because I really like the crunch of the walnuts and feel its earthy flavor compliments the banana’s sweet and delicate nature. I like that this recipe uses agave nectar instead of sugar; the former is a syrup made from the agave plant, it’s a great substitute for sugar or honey. I used less agave nectar than the original recipe because I decided to heat the bananas slightly before mixing with other ingredients to bring out their natural sweetness and juices.
As Manuel points out in his book, agave has a lower glycemic index than sugar so it browns sooner (the original recipe is baked at 325°F/160°C for 1 hour, I wanted to try baking it slightly faster – but had to cover the bread half-way through with aluminum foil so it didn’t burn on the outside while the inside was not fully cooked). I slightly modified the amount of salt and baking powder based on my own recipes. Using apple sauce is a low-fat trick I use in other recipes as well (click here for my Low-fat Apple Cake). Apple sauce is a terrific substitute for oil in cake recipes; it does not alter the flavor and provides so much moisture to the cake, you won’t believe there is no oil!
A little nutrition
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the effects of ingested carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. It can vary from person to person and on the condition of the food item itself. Cooking the banana to make it sweeter (as I did for this recipe) slightly increases the banana’s GI. However, I rather use the fruit’s natural sweetness (even if the GI is slightly increased) than adding sweetening agents such as sugar to make the cake sweeter. Agave nectar has a lower GI than honey and sugar, which makes it a great substitute in some recipes.
Banana Bread (Low fat)
Yields 14-16 servings (using a 9-inch (23cm) x 5-inch (13cm) loaf pan)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40-45 minutes
Cooking Temperature: 350°F/180°C
- 3 medium bananas, ripe (peel should be slightly brown; or microwave for 60 seconds)
- ¼ (60ml) cup agave nectar
- ½ cup (120ml) organic unsweetened apple sauce* (for homemade recipe see below)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- ½ tablespoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ cup (60g) of walnuts (optional)
- Powdered sugar (optional)
*Note: You can use unsweetened (preferably organic) store-bought apple sauce (which is what I used) or simply make your own! For a simple homemade apple sauce: combine chopped peeled apples (use sweet apples so you do not have to add sugar) into a pot of water (use enough water to cover the apples; you can also cook apples with just a little bit of water for more flavor. Cover with lid, cook on medium-high until water boils, lower temperature to medium until the apples are soft and cooked. Put cooked apples in food processor, allow to cool and it is ready to be used.
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Butter and flour baking pan(s) and set aside.
- Mash bananas and add agave nectar and set aside.
- Note: If banana peel is not brown, you can sweeten the bananas by removing peel and slicing them and placing in the microwave for 60 seconds; allow bananas to cool before using in this recipe.
- In a mixer, combine bananas, agave nectar, apple sauce and eggs and mix well.
- Add baking soda, salt, and flour; mix well.
- With a spatula, slowly mix the baking powder into the mixture and add walnuts.
- Slowly pour mixture into baking loaf pan.
- Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes then cover with aluminum foil not to burn the top of the banana bread while it continues to bake. Bake for another 20 minutes until dark golden brown. Test by inserting a toothpick in the cake and it should come out clean.
- Once cooled, sprinkle powdered sugar (optional) and serve.
This healthy banana bread recipe tastes so good you won’t be able to tell it is low in fat and sugar! I hope you enjoy!