Date check. Yup, it’s still January. How are you doing on your goals?! Will and I ran past a gym this weekend and the parking lot was packed with cars. For the next 5 minutes of our run we discussed when we think most people drop their resolutions and the gym parking lot goes back to having empty spots scattered throughout. Do people hold out until February? Do they last longer than that? Was this the last weekend we will see a full parking lot? We didn’t come to a definitive answer, other than, “sometime before spring.”
As I mentioned in my goals post for the year, I don’t set resolutions. So rather than set resolutions to just generally “eat healthier,” or “exercise more,” I strive to live a balanced life – balance in healthy and not so healthy food, exercise and rest, work and home. One aspect of this balance is finding ways to make treats healthier, which led to the creation of this almond banana bread.
This recipe is gluten free and refined sugar free, but still delicious and tender. It is sweetened almost entirely by the bananas, with a little extra honey for good measure. It is full of flavor and has the texture of a regular, non-gluten free bread. The sliced almonds add a wonderful crunch to each slice. You can add extra almonds, walnuts or chocolate chips to the batter to make it your own. A warm slice of banana almond goodness is delicious when topped with a pat of butter or a nut butter of your choice.
I have loved being able to grab a slice of this almond banana bread for a quick breakfast or a tasty afternoon snack that I can feel good about. I always feel so prepared and put-together when I make a healthy snack that I can have at-the-ready throughout the busy weekdays. Snacks like these are the ultimate grab-and-go success! If you made a resolution to eat healthier, but don’t want to sacrifice delicious flavor, this one’s for you!
I adopted the Cooks Illustrated method for making banana bread more flavorful by cooking the liquid from the bananas into a concentrate. It takes a few more steps, but makes it so much better and filled with flavor! Make sure to read the note about using ripe versus thawed frozen bananas.
Almond Banana Bread (gluten free, refined sugar free)
5 medium very ripe bananas, peeled*
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) almond flour
½ cup (2 ounces) coconut flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup coarsely chopped almonds
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar (optional)
Optional mix-ins: ¼-½ cup chopped almonds, chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, coconut, etc.
*You can also use thawed frozen bananas since they produce a lot of liquid. I used 3 thawed frozen bananas and 2 ripe, never frozen bananas. If you use all thawed frozen bananas, reduce the amount of bananas to 4; otherwise you will have too much liquid.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 mini loaf pans (5 ½” x 3”) with nonstick baking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk the almond and coconut flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger together.
Place your bananas in a separate bowl, cover and microwave until the bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. If you are using thawed frozen bananas you can skip this step.
Place a mesh strainer over a small saucepan and pour your bananas and the liquid from them into the strainer. Let the liquid drain into the bowl, stirring the bananas occasionally for about 15 minutes. Remove the strainer and place the saucepan over medium-high heat until the liquid has reduced to about ¼ a cup, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the concentrated liquid into the whole bananas. Mash them together with a fork or a potato masher until the mixture is mostly smooth. Whisk in the melted coconut oil, honey, almond extract, vanilla extract and eggs.
Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined, leaving some streaks of flour. If you are using any mix-ins, gently fold them in now. Pour the batter evenly into your prepared pans. Sprinkle the chopped almonds and turbinado (or any other) sugar, if using, over the top of the batter. This bread doesn’t rise much so it will only be a little taller than you fill it when it is finished baking. Bake for 18-25 minutes, checking to make sure a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. I found that I had to bake mine a few minutes longer after my tester came out clean for the inside to completely finish cooking. Let the loaves cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Keep wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil for a few days.