Banana bread must be one of the all-time best comfort foods. The sweet, moist cakey bread is loved the world over.
But what if banana bread could be healthy? Not just ‘not too bad, once in a while’, but actually healthy. Like, you can eat it for breakfast healthy. That was the aim when I set out to make a wholefood banana bread. I also wanted to make a banana bread that is vegan-friendly.
So, this is the result – a nutritionally dense loaf that is naturally sweetened, high in protein and fibre and, very tasty.
Baking outside of the box (no compromises on taste)
One of my aims is to promote meals that are made with natural, unrefined whole foods. In the case of most baked goods, that means finding alternatives to refined flour and sugar. And, when you can’t eat eggs, it makes life even trickier.
This recipe does not use eggs, wheat, refined sugar or butter*. Chia seeds perform the role of eggs and the moisture comes from ground almonds and coconut milk. Naturally gluten-free buckwheat flour ensures that the final product has the springiness of a sweet ‘bread-cake’ that you’re used to.
It is the perfect baked treat for anyone with multiple food allergies.
Molasses: a naturally fortified sweetener
Voluptuous blackstrap molasses is today’s sweetener. Molasses is the left over component of sugar cane juice after sugar is extracted. As such, it contains concentrated levels of the vitamins and minerals that were present in the sugar cane plant. There are different types of molasses (depending on the number of boiling cycles), but blackstrap molasses has the highest nutrient content because it is the most concentrated – it also has had the most sugar removed.
Blackstrap molasses’ nutritional credentials are based on its high level of naturally occurring iron. However, it is also particularly high in vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, potassium and selenium. This lovely sweetener also has a low glycaemic index, which means that its sugar is more slowly released into your bloodstream, stabilising your blood sugar.
Molasses is still a sugar, so while it’s a better choice, please still use in moderation. It’s a good supplement for anyone with anaemia or those looking to swap out refined sugar for a more wholesome alternative. The taste differs from traditional sugars and syrups – it’s a bit more robust and earthy, but delicious nonetheless.
The good stuff
In order to credibly promote banana bread as a breakfast alternative, or healthy snack, it needs to be nutritionally sound. That means that the final product needs to offer good levels of protein and fibre to keep blood sugar levels balanced; a spectrum of vitamins and minerals; and be naturally sweetened. This recipe delivers on all those requirements… and more!
Besides the bonus of a fortified sweetener (molasses), the other ingredients tick all the ‘healthy eating’ boxes.
The buckwheat, nuts and chia seeds provide fibre, protein and good fats (omega 3’s), while the banana brings the natural sweetness, potassium and more fibre.
Besides lending a lovely creaminess and richness to the bread, the coconut milk also contributes good levels of protein, folate, iron, magnesium and selenium.
Have fun experimenting with this new take on banana bread – there’s no compromise on taste and you really are nourishing your body with each bite!
- 2 tbs chia seeds, ground if possible
- 6 tbs water
- 1.5 cups ground almonds
- ½ cup buckwheat flour
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tsp baking powder (gluten-free if necessary)
- 2 ripe bananas
- 180ml full fat coconut milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbs blackstrap molasses
- 1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 tbs desiccated coconut (optional, for sprinkling)
- First, make your chia eggs. Grind the chia seeds in a coffee/spice grinder and mix with 6 tablespoons of water. Mix well and set aside. If you don’t have a grinder, you can leave them whole, or you can use two eggs.
- Next, mix all the dry ingredients together: ground almonds, buckwheat flour, cinnamon, cloves, sea salt and baking powder.
- In a separate bowl, mash the bananas before adding in the coconut milk, vanilla extract, molasses and the chia eggs (they should be quite gloopy). Mix well.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir.
- Fold in the chopped walnuts.
- Scrape the mixture into a 1kg greased and lined loaf tin and sprinkle with coconut (if using).
- Bake at 1800C for 25-30 minutes. When it is ready, a toothpick inserted in the middle should come clean.
- Allow the baked bread to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack. Leave to cool for at least 10-15 minutes before attempting to slice.
- Eat warm, cool or toasted!
This banana bread will be darker and a bit denser than versions made with wheat flour and sugar.
Leftover coconut milk? You can use it in this recipe.
*p.s. I don’t have a problem with eggs or butter, but they’re no good for vegans and folk who are sensitive to them. Feel free to replace the chia eggs with regular eggs (organic if possible), but you can’t directly replace butter for the other ingredients in this recipe.