Lately, I have been making my roasted banana bread weekly; in some cases, multiple loafs and/or muffins. I’ve been gifting (some may say pushing) my banana bread on to unsuspecting people in my life. No one has escaped my latest banana bread rampage, not even the janitor that works in my office building! Everyone loves this recipe, even people who declare to not like ‘health food’. I brought my boss a couple slices knowing he probably didn’t have time to eat breakfast. Like usual, he hesitates and asks, “Is this healthy?” I respond with defiance - hands on my hips, “You’ll like it!” And par for the course, a few minutes later he popped his head into my office and declared that it was good with a tone of disbelief. His follow-up question was, “Will I be in the bathroom soon because of this?” I laugh, and declare “Yes, and you will be forced to cancel the 2.5 hour meeting you’ve scheduled today” followed by an evil laugh of course :). All joking aside, everyone is pretty well shocked at the fact this recipe doesn’t have any sugar, oil, wheat, or dairy, and that they like it. My daughter who hates bananas or anything that might even have a banana flavor LOVES this bread, and since it’s the only thing she’ll eat with bananas I’m happy to bake it up.
As for the health benefits surrounding the ingredients, it’s good news all around. Bananas are high in fiber and potassium and have been shown in numerous studies to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and metabolic syndrome. If you think some of those benefits diminish as the banana turns brown - think again. Research has actually shown levels of nutrients rise in bananas as they ripen and bananas with dark spots are 8 times more effective at boosting white blood cells (which fight infections). Moreover, bananas can be helpful in overcoming depression due to their high levels of tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin (the mood-elevating neurotransmitter). And, the fiber in bananas is from a form of resistant starch, which has been shown to support gut health and control blood sugar. Flax’s rating among the 127 World’s Healthiest Foods, comes out number 1 as a source for Omega-3s thanks to their alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) content, which is cardioprotective by decreasing inflammation systemically, but also within blood vessels, and potentially lowering your LDL cholesterol. Flax is also a great source of fiber, which delays gastric emptying making you feel full longer, and improving intestinal absorption of nutrients. The Almond meal/flour in the recipe is simply ground up almonds, which are high in monounsaturated fats that are health-promoting and associated with reduced heart disease. They’re loaded with magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, riboflavin (B2), vitamin E, which play a vital role in heart health and energy production. The health benefits go far beyond those I’ve listed, but rest assured this is truly a recipe for health.
3 medium, very ripe bananas
½ cup ground flax seeds (¼ cup in wet ingredients & ¼ in dry)
¼ cup milk (any kind works: almond, soy, hemp, cow, etc.)
1 ½ cup almond flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
Optional: ¼ to ½ cup of chocolate chips/chunks, depending on your love of chocolate
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400F
Step 2: Peel 3 medium overly ripe bananas (the riper the better), and place on a roasting pan. I usually line it with parchment paper for easy clean up.
Step 3: Put bananas in oven and set timer for 20mins
Step 4: Take ¼ cup of ground flax seeds and mix with ¼ of milk (any type works, I’ve used almond, soy, macadamia, hemp and cow), then add 2 eggs and set aside.
Step 5: In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients: 1 ½ Cup of Almond Meal/Flour (this is ground up almonds, I used ones that have been blanched – skins removed), ¼ cup of ground flax, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp salt. (Optional 1 tsp Cinnamon, I love cinnamon and always add).
Step 6: After removing bananas from oven, turn it down to 350F, and let bananas cool for about 5min. I usually put them in a Pyrex bowl to facilitate cooling. Once cooled a bit, you can either mash them with a fork, hand blender or immersion blender. The fork method works fine, but it may lead to some small bits of banana in your bread (which may be desirable for some). Using an immersion blender or some other high-speed blender will yield more of a pureed form of banana. I’ve done both with success, but tend to use the immersion blender because of my daughter’s aversion to banana.
Step 7: Add pureed/mashed banana to other wet ingredients. Then combine wet and dry ingredients together. (Optional: Fold in ¼ to ½ of chocolate chips/chunks. I don’t usually do this, and none of my recent taste testers got chocolate chips in the bread, but it can be a fun and delicious addition).
Step 8: Transfer batter into a bread loaf pan or muffin tin. I usually line my bread pan with parchment paper, so I don’t have to grease it. The same holds true for my muffin tin, I’ll use muffin cups to eliminate the chore of greasing and facilitate easier clean-up.
Step 9: Bake at 350F, about 30min for bread loaf, or until a toothpick comes out clean and top is golden brown with a crack. Muffins take about 20mins or so.
Step 10: Remove from oven and let it cool for 5-10 min before removing from pan.
How might you find a healthy substitute for your favorite baked treat?
How might the foods you eat be impacting your health?
What new healthy recipe or food could you try this week?