Light and fluffy 100% whole grain banana chocolate chip bread made with less butter and sugar but all of the classic banana bread taste. It’s a treat you can definitely feel good about eating!
Full disclosure: This banana bread hadn’t totally finished defrosting before I ran out of patience and sliced it to photograph so I could just hurry up and eat it already. You see, a few weeks ago I decided it was high time I made a healthier banana bread that was totally whole grain, somehow it was supposed to be able to have less sugar, butter and chocolate but still be amazing in every single way. And I did it. And it was fantastic and I was really, really excited. So excited that I made a bunch and then had to freeze them or I’d eat all of it all at once and then there would have been no point in making it healthy.
I spent weeks trying to find mini loaf pans so that I could finally start making things in smaller batches since Mark doesn’t often eat quick breads unless it’s cornbread and I get left with way too much that I have to eat when there’s also chocolate, cookies, squares and scones around here. It’s total food blogger problems but a problem nonetheless.
When I finally found them, I was so excited. So excited that I wasn’t going to have to find people to take slices of banana bread and pumpkin bread off my hands so I could also eat cookies without simultaneously getting diabetes. Yes, I do realize that I made multiple of these healthy banana chocolate chip banana breads and then froze the extra which I could do with slices of regular sized breads… but they freeze better when they haven’t been cut. They just do.
Reducing butter in baking has never really been on my list of priorities. Butter=flavor in pretty much everything and I use it in about 99% of my recipes. If something calls for oil, I find a way to use butter instead (they act differently in recipes so you can’t swap it 1:1). So there was literally zero chance of me omitting it altogether but I felt like at least reducing it a little wouldn’t be so bad. It wasn’t. Instead of 1/4 cup (in a small loaf), I used 2 TBSP and made up the difference with 3 tbsp of full fat sour cream the first time and then greek yogurt the second. Both were stellar so just use whatever you have.
Reducing sugar is even worse than butter for me. I’ve NEVER been able to appreciate a baked good that has been sugar reduced and I completely blame my ridiculous sweet tooth for it. Every so often, though, my sweet tooth gets completely out of control and my skin breaks out which is the sign that I need to take some time apart from the sweet stuff and work on reducing my sugar tolerance.
Surprisingly it usually only takes me a couple of days of eating less of it (with the help of my homemade digestive biscuits) to completely wipe my palate and reset my tolerance and that was when I knew I could attempt to reduce the sweet stuff to make a healthy banana bread.
I took note from my brown butter banana rye bread which uses riper than ripe bananas that I freeze, thaw and strain the juice from to condense the banana flavor and did the same thing… minus a few steps. I wasn’t interested in the amount of work that goes in to that bread for making a mini loaf and I wanted to be able to make something that was amazing AND quick to make. Hence, ‘quick bread.’
SO freeze your riper than ripe bananas, thaw them on baking day and then strain them for only a minute or so through a fine mesh sieve. Then take the flesh, mash it up, measure out 1/2 cup and discard the remaining if there is any. Freezing ripe bananas makes them even sweeter and makes it easier to reduce the amount of added sugar without noticing any difference. Just 1/4 cup of sugar (or vanilla sugar which I always have on hand and I highly recommend) and 1 TBSP of maple syrup sweeten it perfectly and just 1/3 cup of milk chocolate chips is more than enough to have chocolate in every bite.
My favorite whole grain flour to bake with is red fife. If you’re never heard of it, you’re in good company. Apparently nobody I know has ever heard of it despite it being readily available pretty much anywhere. If you’re an avid shopper of Bob’s Red Mill products, you’ll be happy to know that they also carry red fife flour. It’s drastically different to regular whole wheat which I find heavy and bitter. Red fife is a different strain of wheat that is nutty, sweet and creates a light, addictive texture to baked goods that standard whole wheat just can’t produce. I suspect spelt or kamut flour would work well here as well though I have yet to try them in this particular recipe.
As always, not over mixing the batter is key. My preference is to use a whisk for all of the mixing and then a spatula for folding in the chocolate. All you do is pour the wet in to the dry, whisk ever so lightly until there’s just a few streaks of visible dry flour left, scatter the chocolate chips over the top, fold them in gently and then pour the batter in to the pan. Over mixing is going to create a dense loaf that doesn’t rise very well and we don’t want that. We want light and fluffy so please, resist the urge to keep mixing and mixing. I promise you won’t end up with pockets of flour in your final baked good. What you’ll have is a sweet, moist, fluffy healthy banana chocolate chip bread that you won’t be able to stop eating and will change your mind about whole grain baking forever.
Phew. Do we think I’ve talked enough for one day? I think I might have.
- 2 TBSP melted butter
- ¼ cup cane sugar
- 1 TBSP pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ½ cup mashed overripe banana*
- 3 TBSP sour cream or greek yogurt
- ¾ cup red fife flour or whole grain flour of choice
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup milk chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour a mini/small loaf pan (mine was 5.8x3.2x1.8 from bakers secret)
- For the bananas: I recommend freezing your overripe bananas and then thawing them when you are ready to make the bread. It makes them sweeter and helps extract more of the liquid from them.
- Take your frozen bananas and place in a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and allow the liquid to drain from them for 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to a plate and mash. Measure out ½ cup.
- In a large bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, vanilla and maple syrup. Whisk until combined. Add the egg and whisk vigorously until light and creamy. Add the banana and sour cream/greek yogurt, whisking until well combined.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda.
- Add the flour to the wet ingredients and gently whisk until barely combined. Some flour will still be visible.
- Add the chocolate chips and gently fold them in with a rubber spatula until just evenly combined.
- Gently pour batter in to prepared pan and place on the center rack of your oven to bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes then remove from pan and allow to finish cooling completely on a wire rack.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and keep on the counter for up to 5 days.
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