This healthy whole wheat banana nut bread swaps half of the oil for unsweetened applesauce, reduces the amount of sugar, and subs in whole wheat flour– just enough changes to feel good about eating it for breakfast without sacrificing the flavor.
Of all the delicious, carb-y foods in the world, banana bread holds an extra special place in my heart. Growing up, my mom always made us a delicious healthy breakfast before school, and we rotated through things like oatmeal, smoothies, scrambled eggs, and muffins. My personal favorite, though, was always a thick slice of whole wheat banana nut bread.
Banana bread was actually one of the first things I learned how to bake when I was 7 or 8, and that’s when I quickly found out that a bunch of speckled bananas sitting on the counter was a veryyyy good thing.I’ve developed this whole wheat banana bread recipe using a few simple healthy swaps that don’t sacrifice the flavor. (Trust me, I’d rather eat a plateful of raw Brussels sprouts than a bland or dry piece of banana bread!) These swaps help me feel better about enjoying banana bread for a breakfast or snack since its nutritional stats no longer resemble straight-up cake.
First, I cut back on the amount of sugar in the recipe since ripe bananas are naturally sweet.
Second, I sub in whole wheat pastry (or spelt/kamut) flour for the white flour to add some extra fiber and staying power to the bread.
Third, I use a healthier oil like olive oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil rather than canola or vegetable oil.
Finally, I swap half of the oil for unsweetened applesauce to cut back some of the calories. I’ve found that swapping out more than half of the oil does change the texture of the bread, so I like using a combination of half applesauce and half oil rather than all applesauce. I typically use a lunchbox-size cup of applesauce so I don’t have an entire jar of applesauce open in the fridge afterwards.
The result is a perfectly moist, healthier whole wheat banana nut bread with a great texture and just the right amount of sweetness.
If you have leftover bread after the first day or two, you can wrap it in aluminum foil, freeze it, and defrost it in the fridge overnight for breakfast the next morning. It freezes perfectly!
If you try this healthy whole wheat banana bread, let me know in a comment (with a star rating!) or take a photo and tag me @livbane on Instagram! I’d love to see!
Healthy Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread
- 3 cups whole-wheat flour*
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup coconut sugar (can sub regular sugar)
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, measured in liquid state or avocado/grapeseed oil
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 6 ripe, spotted bananas
- 1/2 cup chopped walnut pieces
- Preheat oven to 350. Optional: toast walnuts in the preheated oven for 6-7 minutes on a small baking sheet, or until slightly darkened and fragrant.
- While the walnuts are toasting, mix flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla and stir until flour is just barely incorporated into the wet ingredients, being careful not to over mix. Add mashed bananas and nuts and stir until incorporated.
- Grease two 9x5-inch loaf pans and fill, making sure they are filled with the same amount of batter for even cooking. Bake at 350 for 48-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out mostly clean. Tent tops of the loaves with aluminum foil during the last 15-20 minutes of baking if necessary to prevent them from becoming overly browned.
- Wrap loves in foil and keep in refrigerator for up to 2 days. To freeze, wrap loaves or individual slices of banana bread in aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or unwrap foil, wrap in a paper towel, and defrost in microwave.
Alternatively, you can use half unbleached white flour and half 100% whole-wheat flour.
A Healthy Liv original/adapted from a family recipe
Alison @ Sweetly Petite says
Ohh I love banana bread! My mom used to make it quite frequently when I was younger. She would put mini chocolate chips in it so it tasted extra good.
I think it is great of you to “healthify” the recipe instead of changing most of the ingredients completely. Sometimes the real deal is the way to go.
Mmm…We used to always add chocolate chips to our banana bread, too, but somehow as I’ve gotten older, I actually prefer it with just nuts now. It makes NO sense because I’m obsessed with chocolate!
Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy says
Yum! I love banana bread.
I am all for making desserts healthier, as long as they taste great too. Life is too short of bland desserts.
First thing I learned how to make were my moms famous sugar cookies from scratch! 🙂 I too like olive oil and coconut oil to bake with. I just got avocado oil and I’m interested to see how that works in recipes.
Ooh, I’m curious how the avocado oil will work! You’ll have to let us know on your blog 🙂
This looks good!! On my ‘to try’ list!
Kerri mCgRAIL says
Mmmm that banana bread looks so good! I love when I have super ripe bananas because they are perfect for baking! I love using coconut oil for baking, but usually don’t cook with much oil. Making little swaps for ingredients really does help to make baked goods healthier without sacrificing flavor!
I typically use as little butter & oil in my cooking as I can get away with, but I’ve read so much recently about the healing benefits of healthy oils that I’ve started to reconsider…still, I love that substituting oil out cuts so many calories because less calories per slice of banana bread = eating more slices of banana bread 🙂
Elly Leavitt says
I’m with ya on the going-all-out-on-desserts part (down with healthy sweets!) but this looks amazing! Will have to try, thanks for sharing xx
Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday says
LOVE banana bread! I’m pretty much with you on healthifying desserts. That is, usually it’s a terrible idea, but sometimes small changes turn out just fine, especially with quick breads.
The first things I learned how to make (that I remember) were shrimp scampi pasta and brownies. Random and delicious 🙂
Uh, yum! Now you’ve got me craving homemade brownies.
Yum! This actually looks so easy to make. And it’s a great way to use up any overripe bananas!
Meet Me in Midtown
YES! I love making banana bread and to use up bananas that I’d probably have to toss out otherwise. No wasting food here!
I honestly don’t remember what the first thing I learned to make was, but banana bread was definitely up there! That and monster cookies were like my things that I made. Actually, cookies in general were my jam. 😀 I think my favorite oil to cook with is coconut oil. It is rather a recent addition to our kitchen (a couple years ago), and before that we pretty much solely used butter in baked goods. Still love that stuff. 😉 Now I want banana bread… Especially after it’s been frozen and defrosted and it’s extra soggy and moist…yeah I’m weird to like soggy bread! 😀
Monster cookies were another one of the first things I learned to make! So easy and delicious 🙂
Yum! Banana bread is one of my favs.. and my boyfriend will literally eat an entire loaf of it on his own! I’ll have to try this one- he’ll be so excited 🙂
Yay, hope you two love it! I have to restrain myself from eating half a loaf at a time hah.
Looks yummy! Banana bread was also my first recipe that I learned how to make all by myself, I remember being so proud making a loaf for my family when I was about 8 years old!
Dani @ Dani California Cooks says
This looks delicious! My bananas seem to go from too green to too ripe all the time, so I’m always looking for new ways to switch up using them.
Lacey @ Runs and Roses says
If I could marry one food it would be banana bread. Its perfect pretty much any way its made. I love the healthy substitutes you used!
HAHA. Can I be invited to the wedding?
Bananas are the perfect fruit 🙂
Lauren @ ihadabiglunch says
It’s so exciting having ripe or overripe bananas laying around — it’s like a blank slate! Banana bread is the bomb.
I like making healthy sweet treats, if only so I can eat one everyday. 😛 I don’t usually refer to them as a dessert, but a snack anyways.
The first thing I remember baking is cookies. However, I don’t how much slicing up the tub of chocolate chip cookie dough counts for “baking”, lol!
Amy Basso | Amy's Apron says
I love healthy make-overs! I love the addition of whole wheat flour and coconut oil for this banana bread!
Annette B Stoots says
Can I use Stevia instead of sugar for the banana bread?
Hi Annette! Unfortunately, I haven’t tried stevia in this recipe so I would suggest finding a Stevia-specific banana bread recipe that’s tried-and-true!
Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves says
Banana bread is one of my favorite things ever, so I’m always on the lookout for good recipes. I’ll have to try this out one day!
This looks SO super yummy! I’m definitely going to have to try to make these.
Also, I know it’s super random, but I would love your tips on how you get so many comments on each of your posts. 🙂
Hey Megan! I like to ask questions at the end of mosts of my posts to encourage reader engagement. I also try to respond to as many comments as possible (especially when they’re thoughtful comments or they ask a question) to let readers know that I really appreciate the time they took to leave feedback, plus it helps me get to know my readers better!
Unfortunately, I don’t have time to read as many blogs as I’d like, but when I can, I like to leave encouraging comments on other bloggers’ posts to build relationship with them. The bloggers I get to know that way will sometimes comment on my posts, too.
I don’t have whole wheat flour 🙁 can I use regular white flour? And if so, how much? Do I use the same amount, 3 cups as the recipe calls for??
Hi April! Yep, you can substitute the same amount of white flour as whole wheat flour!
Can I use 5 bananas instead of 6? If so, will I need to reduce the amount of flour I use?
Hi Nadine! The bananas really help keep the bread moist, so if you only have 5 bananas, I’d recommend halving the recipe and just using 3 bananas and halving all of the other ingredients, too.
Can I use gluten free flour
Hi, Stephanie! I haven’t tried using gluten-free flour for this recipe. Using a recipe developed specifically for gluten-free flour may be a safer bet, but if you try it, please do report back and let us know how it goes!
Hi! Is there an alternative to adding sugar? I wonder if cutting the sugar in half will affect the end result?
Hi, Diana! You can certainly omit some of the sugar. This is already a reduced-sugar banana bread, but you could try 1 cup to start and then next time, decrease the sugar even more if you think that’ll work for your taste buds.