Simply Sweet Banana Bread

I can remember my first experience with classic banana bread like it was yesterday. I was probably around ten or eleven years old and I was sitting at an old table at our local Bob Evens. At the time, they served bread with every meal, and I unknowingly ordered a slice of their homemade banana bread. Side note: I wish this story was more exciting then a dinner at Bob Evens, like an ancient homemade recipe from my great grandma, but I don’t, they just make a pretty great banana bread. I was expecting to hate it with every inch of Hanna Banana inside of me (because banana’s in bread just doesn’t make sense to ten year old me) but I was hooked. I loved it more than any pastry, cake, or cookie, and I wanted to eat it at every meal, every day. From the moist, cake-like texture to the subtle sweetness of perfectly ripened bananas, banana bread is the best of every world. Banana bread can compliment your favorite breakfast spread or serve as the best dessert with the help of a simple icing or glaze. Speaking of, have you seen my all natural caramel icing that I love using as an all natural icing? It’s made with a two simple ingredients and by far the healthiest alternative to store bought frosting or icing.

As much as I loved the Bob Evens banana bread, I’ve had my fair share of amazing, over the top, unforgettable banana breads over the years. And to be honest, my favorites always come back to homemade, fresh out of the oven, not as bad for you versions. Crazy, right?  Of course there will always be a special place in my heart for the Bob Evans OG, but believe me when I tell you, this version is pretty darn close, and much better for you.  It’s soft and fluffy with a hint of sugar and conveys a true banana flavor.

The best part – I’ve omitted any refined flours and sugars, and replaced them with wholesome and nourishing ingredients. This recipe calls for white whole wheat flour, which is simply whole wheat flour from a different type of grain, honey and real butter. These three substitutes can make a huge difference in your baking; they are much more nutrient dense than white flour, white sugar, and partially hydrogenated oils, as well as embody more flavor that is brought out through your baking. Finding healthier alternatives for traditional ingredients is easier than you might expect, it just takes a little conscious effort to do so!

This recipe is a great base for just about any banana bread. A few additives that I love to add include: dark chocolate chips, blueberries, coconut flakes, walnuts, pecans, almond, or dried fruit! As I mentioned, you can top this bread with a few toppings that I mentioned, or make a homemade glaze or healthy icing. If you give this recipe a try, be sure to tag me using #thehealthiestme and @thehealthiest_me! I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!

Naturally Sweetened Banana Bread

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour

  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 3/4 cup honey or maple syrup

  • 4 overripe bananas

  • 2 large eggs, room temp

  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

  • Optional: Pecans, walnuts, or chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or thoroughly grease with butter or olive oil.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, mash the bananas until they are smooth. Add in honey, eggs, softened butter and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.  Optional: Add in any nuts, dried fruit or chocolate chips.Fold the dry ingredients into the banana batter until combined. Carefully pour the batter into the bread loaf. Top with additional nuts, dried fruit or chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and fifteen minutes, or until the top is golden in color and the center has baked through. Test by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clean, its ready. Let the banana bread set and cool before serving. Top with cream cheese, butter, or honey and enjoy!

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