The Best Healthy Banana Bread Recipe (2022)
Updated: Feb 20
Written By: Andrea Memon, RDN, LD, CD
Photo Credit: Andrea Memon
My middle son, who loves food, worked with me in the kitchen to develop this recipe, so it is extra special! I'm thrilled to share it with you!
Traditional banana bread is sweetened with naturally occurring sugar from bananas and also with added sugar from table sugar and sometimes brown sugar. You likely know you should pay attention to and limit your added sugar intake. But did you know that intake of naturally occurring sugar found in milk and fruit does not need the same attention? The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar intake to less than 24 grams per day (six teaspoons of sugar or about 100 calories) to assist in weight control and improve heart health. Therefore, added sugar is an ingredient I actively limit when cooking and baking. The good news is that many foods with naturally occurring sugar are super sweet, and you can use these as substitutes for table sugar.
For baking, two of my favorite substitutes for table sugar are Medjool dates and raisins. Medjool dates are known for their caramel-like sweetness and contain fiber, iron, potassium, B vitamins, copper, calcium, and magnesium. Raisins are a source of fiber, iron, calcium, and antioxidants. Other sweet fruits that can be used in place of table sugar in baking are bananas, mangos, grapes, pears, and apples. I always prefer naturally sweet foods over table sugar and use whole foods as much as possible when baking. In this recipe, I used Medjool dates and reduced the amount of table sugar.
I love baking because it's easy to sneak a few healthy ingredients into whatever you make without anyone noticing. When baking, I always look to reduce the amount of added sugar and increase fiber, protein, and healthy fat. I often add an extra egg because it usually works and they are almost the perfect food. Also, my kids won't eat them any other way than when they are baked in something. It's easy to add a few tablespoons of ground flaxseeds without anyone noticing. With a food processor, it's easy to add nuts to anything. Also with a food processor, black beans and lentils work well in brownies. You get the idea.
After looking at a few traditional banana bread recipes, I rolled my sleeves up, dug in my pantry, and pulled out my food processor. After a few close, but not quite try's, below is the winner. I added extra fiber and healthy fat with ground flaxseeds and protein, fiber, and healthy fat by adding almonds. I promise you can't taste any of it, and this bread is moist, delicious, and super sweet!
1 cup dates (remove the pit & tightly packed when measuring)
1/4 cup whole, raw almonds
3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 cup coconut oil or grass-fed butter
6 ripe bananas
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup table sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Add all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips into your food processor. Mix until smooth. Then pour the mixture into a bread pan. Add the chocolate chip to the mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until the bread is fully cooked in the center of the loaf. If the outside of the loaf is getting brown, turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees after 60 minutes and continue cooking until the center is cooked. Check about every 5 minutes.