Baking is a productive therapy for some us. We bake and cook because food is an expression and showing of our love.
Seems silly, but creating a recipe from scratch, or even following the instructions for a recipe is putting in work to get to the final product. Often you’re baking to delight others, to show your gratitude, or as a way to express your emotions and how much you care for the person receiving the treats.
It’s communication without words. Some bake nourishing bread and meals when you’re sick, others comfort friends and family with prepared meals when they’re in their darkest moments. We even break bread when we meet new friends out for dinner; we invite them into our homes to gather around a table and enjoy the nourishment and pleasure of food together.
The most beautiful thing about baking is how it connects us with others. It’s all about love. I began baking some of my Dad’s recipes (including his famous yellow cake) to help heal my grief and to work through emotions. Baking his cake was a way to bring his memory to life and to thank him for being my Dad. Plain and simple as that. I still bake for my Dad to this day, and I bake for everyone else in my life too. Because frankly I love the people in my life and the expression of baking something not only gives me joy, but it brings a smile to another’s face, even in the craziest, most raw emotional times in our lives.
Every now and then, I get readers who ask me how I manage to bake and still stay fit. Or even how I can eat cookies. Guys, let me tell you something: it isn’t about the can and the can’ts. It’s about the FEELING I get from giving to others. It’s also about how my joy and passion shine through when I’m trying to figure out how to make a new chocolate chip cookie recipe, or how I’ll make my donuts fluffier. It’s creative and meaningful to me.
It’s not about weight or fitness, it’s about love and nourishment. It’s about emotions and well-being. Ya feel me?
Ingredients in this healthy banana bread recipe
This healthy banana bread is the perfect recipe to try out because not only is is simple and easy to make (hello basically a one bowl recipe!), but it’s also nourishing and SO delicious. I love having a slice for breakfast with almond butter and a little sea salt on top. Here are the ingredients you need:
- Overripe bananas: this recipe calls for using overripe bananas, meaning the bananas that have tons of brown spots.
- Eggs: two eggs are best in this recipe for a banana bread that’s dense, yet still fluffy.
- Pure maple syrup: I prefer this all natural sweetener. Do not use honey as it causes the bread to brown too quickly as honey is prone to burning.
- Greek yogurt: for moisture and a boost of protein. I suggest using whole milk plain or vanilla greek yogurt or 2% for best results.
- Vanilla extract: a touch of vanilla makes such a difference. If you’re all out, feel free to use a splash of bourbon instead.
- Whole wheat pastry flour: this is a favorite flour of mine for baking whole grain treats. Many of you ask about whole wheat pastry flour, and basically it’s just a lighter, finer version of regular whole wheat flour, still with all the nutritional benefits of whole grain flour. If you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, I suggest using 1 cup all purpose flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour also works too!
- Baking soda: this helps the bread rise and create the perfect texture.
- Cinnamon: a dash of cinnamon for cozy flavor.
- Salt: to boost flavor!
- Butter: I prefer to use melted butter in this recipe because I think it yields the best flavor and results. However, olive oil, coconut oil or vegan butter will also work. Browned butter would also be delicious!
- Walnuts + chocolate chips: both optional, but highly recommended!
Tips for making delicious healthy banana bread
Here are some of my best tips for ensuring your banana bread comes out perfect:
- Follow the recipe. The best way to ensure the success of this healthy banana bread is to follow the recipe and use the exact ingredients as written.
- Use overripe bananas. Using bananas that have LOTS AND LOTS of brown spots and are very soft will help keep this banana bread both sweet, perfectly moist and delicious. Trust me.
- Make sure your eggs are at room temperature. If your eggs are too cold you risk the butter coagulating. To bring your eggs to room temp, simply place them in a bowl of warm water for 3-5 minutes before you use them.
- Use whole milk or 2% greek yogurt. Yogurt with a little more fat helps to keep the moisture in this banana bread. If you like a sweeter banana bread, you can use vanilla greek yogurt. If you don’t have yogurt, feel free to sub sour cream!
- Use fresh baking soda. If your baking soda is older than 3 months, I suggest grabbing a new one for best baking results.
- Don’t overmix the batter. Over-mixing the batter will create a tough banana bread. You only need to mix until the ingredients are just combined.
- Try it the next day. Banana bread is always best the day after it’s baked, as the sugars release the bread gets sweeter!
Customize your banana bread
What I love about this healthy banana bread is that you can easily make them your own with fun add-ins. Here are a few suggestions:
- Walnuts & chocolate chips: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts + 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- Blueberry banana: 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- Pecan coconut: 1/2 cup chopped pecans + 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- Espresso dark chocolate: 1 teaspoon espresso powder + 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
How to make this healthy banana bread dairy free
You can easily make this healthy banana bread dairy free! Just use a dairy free yogurt and vegan butter or coconut oil.
Suggestions for gluten free banana bread
Instead of trying to make this banana bread gluten free, I suggest trying out some of my other gluten free banana bread recipes:
- Almond flour banana bread
- Coconut flour banana bread
- Dairy free + gluten free banana muffins
- Peanut Butter banana muffins
- Vegan paleo banana muffins
- Chickpea flour banana bread
How to make this healthy banana bread into muffins
If you’d like you can use this banana bread recipe and make muffins. Here’s how to do it: spray a 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or use muffin liners. To be safe, I always spray the inside of the liners too. Prepare batter as directed, then divide evenly between liners. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F or until tester comes out clean.
How to store banana bread
This banana bread should be kept well-covered in foil or plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days, then I recommend transferring to the fridge or freezer.
How to freeze banana bread
This healthy banana bread bread freezes well! Simply wrap in plastic, then tightly in foil and finally place in a reusable bag or freezer friendly bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature once you are ready to eat. You can also feel free to freeze individual slices for a quick on the go treat.
Other banana recipes you might like:
- Skinny banana chocolate chip muffins
- Healthy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies
- Paleo Banana Zucchini Muffins
- Almond Butter, Strawberry, & Banana Overnight Oats
- Chocolate Chip Coconut Flour Banana Bread
If you make this healthy banana bread recipe, be sure to leave a comment below and rate the recipe! You can also snap and picture and post it on Instagram using the hashtag #ambitiouskitchen. xo!
Best Ever Healthy Banana Bread Recipe
Delicious healthy banana bread made with whole wheat flour, protein packed greek yogurt and naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup. Made in one bowl, easy to make and perfect for brunch or snacking. Everyone loves this healthy banana bread recipe because it can easily be made into muffins, too!
- 3 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/4 cup mashed banana)
- 2 eggs, at room temperature (very important to be at room temp)
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup (do not use honey)
- 1/2 cup plain or vanilla greek yogurt (whole milk or 2% is best)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour*
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled (you can also use olive oil or melted and cooled coconut oil but I prefer butter)
- Optional add-ins:
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips, dairy free if desired
- 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pan with parchment paper and grease the inside of the pan to prevent sticking.
In a large bowl mix together the mashed banana, eggs, maple syrup, greek yogurt and vanilla extract to a bowl until well combined. (OR if you prefer, you can add all the wet ingredients to a blender to combine -- I prefer to mix in a bowl.)
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overmix!
Next, mix in the melted and cooled butter (or coconut oil). At this point you can fold in an of the following: ½ cup chopped walnuts or ½ cup chocolate chips (or both!).
Add banana bread batter into prepared pan. Optional but not required: split a banana down the middle vertically then add on top of the batter or just add banana slices on top, side by side. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Allow bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Once bread is cool, cut into 12 slices. Serve with nut butter spread on top for a healthy snack or breakfast on the go.
*If you'd like you can feel free to use 1 cup whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup all purpose flour instead of whole wheat pastry flour.
TO MAKE MUFFINS: Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or use liners. To be safe, I always spray the inside of the liners too. Prepare muffin batter as directed, then divide evenly between liners. Bake for 18-25 minutes at 350 degrees or until tester comes out clean.
TO MAKE DAIRY FREE: Sub dairy free yogurt for greek yogurt, and use coconut oil, olive oil or vegan butter.
How to freeze banana bread: simply wrap it in plastic, then tightly in foil and finally place in a reusable bag or freezer friendly bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature once you are ready to eat. You can also feel free to freeze individual slices for a quick on the go treat.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats