It’s the kind of day that makes me want to bake something. It’s cloudy and windy and I’m stuck inside so why not fill the house with warm, yummy smells? This is a slippery slope though fueled by visions of comfort food – macaroni and cheese, cakes, cookies. But I’m trying to keep it a little healthier these days, so what can I make that will satisfy the emotional part of comfort food without leaving me guilt ridden?
There’s two overly ripe bananas beckoning me from the fruit bowl so that’s a starting place. The thing with banana bread is that it sounds healthy – it has a fruit in the name, right? – but after looking at several recipes with a more critical eye, it also tends to contain a lot of sugar and oil. A couple versions had over 400 calories a slice! So I searched for healthier versions, combining them into the recipe below, with my own little additions of course – not only for extra flavor and texture, but also for a few added health benefits. The cranberries bring vitamin C and are packed with antioxidants while the walnuts supply protein and omega 3 fats, and both give a boost of fiber.
Curious as to how my version measured up, I ran it through MyFitnessPal.com for a nutritional analysis and based on 12 slices per loaf, it has 178 calories, 10g fat, 13g sugar, 2g fiber and 2g protein. Now that’s comforting!
Cranberry Walnut Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf, 12 slices
1 cup all-purpose baking flour (gluten free flour can be substituted here – add 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum to the dry ingredients if you’re going this route)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 overripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup coconut oil (canola oil could also be used)
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup cranberries, frozen or fresh
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom and sides of the loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the bananas with the oil, agave nectar, almond milk and vanilla. Stir in the cranberries and walnuts.
Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the banana bread cool on a rack for 20 minutes before turning it out. Let cool completely before slicing.