Impossibly Healthy Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chunks

  • Impossibly Healthy Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate ChunksI grew up loving banana bread, and had no idea the Fannie Farmer Cookbook recipe my Mom used was a virtually fat-free one until finding the recipe online last year.  (I have distinct memories of spreading gratuitous amounts of margarine on the bread– negating the whole fat-free thing, of course.  Not that I cared about fat when I was nine years old.)  (And yes, we used margarine.  But my Mom also smoked a pack a day when she was pregnant and so we can chalk that and the margarine thing up to “they didn’t know better back then”.)

    I stumbled upon my own Official Favorite Banana Bread Recipe around 1999 and have been almost faithful to it ever since.  (I found a fluffy chocolate banana muffin recipe that caused my eye to wander last year, but it was a short-lived affair.)  In my quest to expand my healthy dessert offerings (potentially game-changing, I know), I recalled that my Mom’s recipe was oddly healthy, and so I revisited it to kick it up several notches in the good-for-you department:

    a) I swapped the regular flour with whole-wheat flour.  But I didn’t stop there, my fiber-loving friend.
    b) I added a tablespoon of ground flax seeds, just because.
    c) I replaced the white sugar with Sucanat, an evaporated cane sugar that I can’t get enough of (when I have my Healthy Baker hat on, at least).
    d) I replaced one of the eggs with an egg white, for obvious reasons.
    e) I chopped up and stirred in a modest little hunk of dark chocolate, because a healthy banana bread without a dose of antioxidants would be entirely incomplete.  And wrong.

    So enjoy this bread as a truly healthy treat- as a big loaf, three mini-loaves, or a batch of muffins.  You can’t lose… other than a few pounds.

    Severely adapted from the Fannie Farmer Banana Nut Bread recipe.  In fact, this recipe is hardly close to the original, but I feel the need to give Fannie some sort of credit.

    4 very ripe bananas, well mashed

    2 eggs plus 1 egg white, lightly beaten

    1 teaspoon vanilla

    2 cups whole wheat flour

    3/4 cups Sucanat (evaporated cane juice/ sugar)

    1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

    1 teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    3 oz dark chocolate, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

    1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease either a large loaf pan, three mini-loaf pans, or a large muffin pan.
    2. Mix mashed bananas with eggs and vanilla, and then stir in flour, Sucanat, flax seeds, salt and baking soda until just combined.  Gently stir in chocolate and pour batter in prepared pans.
    3. Bake a large loaf pan for 60 minutes, mini-loaf pans for 35 minutes, and muffins for 20 minutes (until cake tester or wooden skewer comes out mostly clean).  Set on cooling racks for 5 – 10 minutes, then remove from pans to finish cooling.


    • Ripe bananas, please.  Yellow ones just won’t do- they need to be more black than brown.  I wouldn’t bother making the bread if the bananas aren’t ready.  Better to make a banana split or a banana/almond butter/almond milk/cinnamon shake if you feel the urgent need to use up your bananas.
    • Substitutes?  But of course.  Use regular flour if you don’t have the whole wheat, and regular or brown sugar if you don’t have Sucanat.  Skip the flax seeds if you want.  (Just know that you won’t be able to call these Impossibly Healthy if you take out the healthy ingredients.)  If you don’t have dark chocolate, you can chop up other kinds of chocolate (or use chocolate chips)- but again, you lose the right to use the Healthy claim… just so you know.  Dark chocolate wins in the antioxidant department and is less sweetened than its semi-sweet and bittersweet counterparts.
    • Nuts… yes, nuts are lovely in banana bread, especially walnuts.  Toast some and add them in if you’d like.  They’ll bring a healthy fat to the party, which is good but something to consider if you’re looking to take some of the fat out of your life.
    • “Healthy”: Be sure to explain to people that this is a Healthy bread- yes, with a capital H- and while it’s super-good, it’s definitely not a decadently sweet and rich classic banana bread like this recipe.  When you build whole wheat and flax and raw sugar and you strip out butter and oil and a yolk, you’re not getting an indulgent treat.  But you do have my word that this is pretty damned good.
    • Storage: keep this bread wrapped in plastic wrap (or in an airtight container) to stay moist, and eat within a few days.  Enjoy!


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    March 25th, 2012 | More Sweets Please | 2 Comments | Tags: , , ,

2 Responses and Counting...

  • Michelle 03.25.2012

    I keep meaning to write and say that I made this and it was so good! I subbed choc chips for the chunks but otherwise kept to your recipe. I loved how non-greasy it was compared to my old standard banana bread. Yum YUM.

  • Hi Michelle,
    I’m SO SO glad you liked… isn’t it wonderful to find healthy recipes that actually taste good?!
    Cheers to many more to come!

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