This very flavorful whole wheat banana bread has a secret: frozen bananas. It intensifies the banana flavor and is perfect for baking! Plus it is baked with olive oil and not butter, so it is better for your heart.
Many families think following a healthy diet is difficult. In reality, with a little planning and awareness of diverse healthy food products, families would be able to follow a very balanced and healthy diet at home, enjoyable to all! So often times, I sneak in the healthy in the foods they already eat.
When the kids were young I would sneak veggies in their dinner, like my veggie packed pasta sauce or my cauliflower macaroni and cheese sauce. They eventually grew up to love their vegetables and eat them up in their chicken noodle soup with lemon and chicken tortilla soup.
And now when I bake muffins and quick breads, I sneak in whole wheat flour and bran, plus I reduce the sugar. Do they notice? Nope, not at all.
Baking with whole wheat flour
I have been baking with whole wheat flour for over 15 years. It started as an experiment and now it is second nature to me. If you are unsure if your family will like their muffins with whole flour, try this little experiment. Swap out half of the regular flour with whole grain flour. Easy peasy.
Whole wheat flour requires a bit more moisture than regular flour, so by swapping all purpose flour for whole wheat is not recommended without adding a little more moisture. This recipe for whole wheat banana bread uses whole wheat flour and wheat bran – and it is moist and delicious.
And the best way to hide brown food, is out in the open. They seriously won’t notice it in this whole wheat banana nut bread.
Best banana flavor for banana bread
Most recipes call for over ripe bananas for their banana recipe. And of course, that works fine for this one, as well. Some people swear by roasting their bananas in the oven before mixing them in the batter for extra banana flavor. I tried it. I didn’t think the extra step really made the flavor more banana-y.
Me? I collect bananas in my freezer! Our fruit bowl is always full on the counter and it always has bananas in it. Some weeks we eat a lot of bananas, and some weeks we don’t. No bananas get thrown out. When they get super ripe and I know we aren’t going to use them right away, I place them in freezer.
When making banana bread, I simply take out 2 or 3, enough to give me 1-cup of banana mush, and let it thaw on the counter. If I’m in a rush, I nuke it in the microwave for 20-seconds or until the peel easily comes off and squeeze out the banana goodness into a bowl or measuring cup.
Olive oil banana bread
This banana is also baked with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. Ever since I wrote my olive oil cookbook, I almost exclusively bake with olive oil. When baking with olive oil, you want a more mild tasting oil versus a peppery one, which would be terrific in breads.
Taste your oil by itself before baking with it. Olive oil can turn rancid, so if it tastes terrible, it’s probably bad. Do not cook with rancid oil. It may not make you sick, but you certainly won’t get the health benefits you are seeking in your olive oil. And honestly, your food will taste terrible!
So taste the oil before baking with it. And find an olive oil brand you can trust.
Best nuts for banana nut bread
This recipe produces a moist and not sugary sweet banana bread. One loaf only uses half a cup of sugar versus a whole cup in most recipes. I want to taste the sweet bananas and not the sugar, so I cut the sugar in half. If you want it sweeter, I suggest adding maybe a couple tablespoons more of sugar to the batter, but really, it’s not cake, it’s banana bread.
I also like adding nuts to banana bread. It naturally works beautifully with the nutty undertones of the whole wheat flour and wheat bran in the recipe. The best nuts for banana bread, in my opinion, are walnuts, pecans and almonds. You can also add macadamia nuts, too.
Tips to eating healthy
And before I sign off, here are some my tips to getting your family eat healthy:
- Make half your grains whole. Choose whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, low fat popcorn. When baking, substitute half of the recipe’s white all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour.
- Vary your veggies. Choose dark green and orange vegetables. Eat spinach, broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Add colorful bell peppers to your salads and stir fry.
- Get your calcium-rich foods. Eat low-fat and fat-free milk plus other milk products several times per day. Children 1-2 years of age need whole milk.
- Go lean with protein. Eat lean or low fat meat, chicken, turkey, and fish. Include beans, peas and lentils in your diet; add them to soups, casseroles, stews, and salads. Add nuts, seeds or chick peas to your salads or include them in snacks.
- Focus on fruits. Eat them at meals and snacks. Choose fresh, frozen, canned in its juice, or dried. Make fruit smoothies with fruit, low fat yogurt and sweeten with honey, if needed.
- Change your oil. Fats are important for a healthy body. Keep in mind the amount and type of fat you use. Choose extra virgin olive oil
- Don’t sugarcoat it. Choose foods and beverages without added sugar and caloric sweeteners as one of the first ingredients listed in the product information.
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup mashed over-ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup wheat bran
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Using a stand mixer, cream together sugar and olive oil.
- Mix in eggs, bananas, yogurt and vanilla extract.
- In a separate medium bowl whisk together flour, wheat bran, baking soda and salt.
- In batches, whisk dry ingredients into wet, making sure everything is evenly distributed.
- Stir in chopped walnuts
- Apply non-stick spray to a 9"x 5" loaf pan and pour batter inside. Tap pan gently on counter-top to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean, about 1 hour.
- Let the bread rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool.
Cooking Tips: Store over-ripe bananas in the freezer until you are ready to bake with them. Their skins will turn black, but the banana flavor is intensified. You can use them for smoothies, too.
You can also use pecans, almonds or macadamia nuts.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 194Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 315mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 11gProtein: 4g