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 attempts — until I came up with a winner.
WHY WE AVOID SUGAR
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 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 okay with that.
IN SEARCH OF SUGAR SUBSTITUTES
I tried many things to replace the sugar in my usual 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.
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.
Note: If you have diabetes, please check with your doctor concerning the use of pureed raisins as a refined sugar substitute! I am neither a nutritionist nor a doctor. This recipe is simply offered as a delicious way to make banana bread without adding refined sugar.
Banana Bread Without Sugar Recipe
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 broad grins… which we quickly shoved full of more banana bread.
This one’s a winner. Enjoy!
Banana Bread Without Sugar
Cutting white sugar out of your diet but don't want food that tastes like cardboard? This recipe creates the sweet, moist banana bread you love without the refined white sugar you're trying to avoid. No scary ingredients and you won't taste the difference!
- 1 oz. raisins or sultanas
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 5 large bananas very ripe (about 2 cups)
- 2 cups whole wheat flour or 1 cup (120g) whole wheat and 1 cup (120g) all-purpose
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp stevia optional
Soak the raisins
Soak the raisins in the warm water until they're swollen. (10 minutes, but overnight is fine, too.)
Make the bread
Preheat the oven to 350F / 180 C / gas mark 4. Grease a 9x5" loaf pan.
Drain the raisins and transfer them to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add the bananas and blend until they're pureed.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. These are your dry ingredients.
In the bowl of stand mixer or large bowl, beat butter and eggs well. Add vanilla to the mixer bowl and continue beating. Add banana/raisin mixture and continue mixing until well-combined. Taste, and add stevia if desired. These are your wet ingredients.
Stir the dry ingredients by hand into the wet ingredients. Do NOT over-mix. (Batter will be very thick.) Scoop batter into loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
Bake in preheated oven 60-75 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Remove loaf from oven, let cool 10 minutes, then tip the loaf out to continue cooling on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, with or without butter.
TIP: Don’t worry if your bananas aren’t ripe yet. Wash and dry each one, then put them on a cookie sheet and pop it into a 300°F/149°C 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.