Recently, my sister-in-law asked if I had a recipe for banana bread without sugar. I didn’t, but since I’m the kind of person who loves a good cooking challenge, I decided to give it a try — make that several tries — until I came up with a winner.
Shortly after my husband’s cancer diagnosis, I began doing research into dietary and lifestyle changes we could make that would complement his medical treatments. Dr. Patrick Quillin’s book, Beating Cancer with Nutrition (with CD) is one I turn to time and again. (Others include The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen and Anticancer: A New Way of Life.)
My husband and his sisters have a history of cancer on both sides of their family tree. I’m adopted, so I don’t know my inherited medical stuff. As a result, we’re all trying to be proactive with nutrition changes to counteract whatever hand genetics dealt us. That’s why coming up with recipes that don’t use refined white sugar or white flour is important to me. It’s also why I place such an emphasis on natural, homemade cleaners and replacing processed food with homemade mixes.
But I don’t want to spend my life eating food that tastes like cardboard, either. So, last week I bought three dozen bananas and set out to create a recipe for banana bread without sugar that we’d all enjoy. Now that I’ve done it, if I don’t see another banana before the end of the year, I’d be fine with that.
Replacing Sugar In Banana Bread
I tried a number of things to replace the sugar in my normal banana bread recipe. Both honey and agave are on the no-no list according to Dr. Quillan, so I tried batches with straight stevia (awful!) and 100% maple syrup (which changed the flavor too much). What I needed was something unrefined yet sweet.
TIP: Don’t worry if your bananas aren’t ripe yet. Just wash and dry each one, then put them on a cookie sheet and pop it into a 300F/149C oven for an hour. The skins will turn black as the heat converts the fruit’s starches to sugar, which is exactly what happens in the ripening process.
Then I remembered having breakfast at a vegan-friend’s home one morning. She served toast with raisin puree in place of butter, and it was delicious. Incredibly sweet, but delicious. How would that work in bread? Turns out: brilliantly! By that point, my bananas were almost too ripe so I needed to come up with a good recipe. Fast.
How convenient that together those things — raisin puree and incredibly ripe bananas — produced the sweet, moist taste I was looking for! Even better: the raisins didn’t compete with the banana flavor.
Banana Bread Without Sugar Recipe
- 1 oz. raisins
- ½ cup warm water
- 5 very ripe, large bananas
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (or 1 whole wheat and 1 all-purpose)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon stevia (optional)
- Soak raisins in the warm water until they're swollen, preferably overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Grease a 9x5" loaf pan.
- Drain raisins and put in food processor or blender.
- Add the bananas to the raisins and process until pureed.
- In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
- In bowl of stand mixer or large bowl, beat butter and eggs until fluffy.
- Add vanilla to mixer bowl and continue beating.
- Add banana/raisin mixture and continue mixing until well-combined.
- Taste, and add stevia if desired.
- Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed. Do NOT over-mix. (Batter will be very thick.)
- Scoop batter into loaf pan and smooth top.
- Bake in preheated oven 60-75 minutes, or until toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
- Remove loaf from oven, let cool 10 minutes, then tip loaf out to continue cooling on wire rack.
You’d think that people who’d tried four unsuccessful banana bread recipes in the past two days wouldn’t have been all that interested in eating more, but you’d be wrong. As soon as this loaf was cool enough to eat, we could see how incredibly moist it was even without slathering on the butter. After the first nibble, my husband and I broke into wide grins… which we quickly shoved full of more banana bread.
This one’s a winner. Enjoy!
Equipment I Used Making This: