simple is best banana bread

I am lucky in my friends for countless reasons, but high up on the list is how much they have taught me about delicious food. Laura and I almost never have a conversation that doesn’t at least touch on a new recipe or restaurant (do we ever, La?). Molly’s family gave me one of my all time most loved recipes, and she’s single handedly responsible for getting me to eat more sauteed Swiss chard. Katie makes the best homemade hummus in the world and handles her grill like a pro. Laureen introduced me to the wonders of halloumi cheese (best on Katie’s grill) and once made a chicken and waffles dinner that I still dream about. Ellen taught me how to make vodka infused gummy bears. And Sarah, among many other fantastic food things, introduced me to what quickly became my favorite banana bread.

banana bread-j6

Sarah adapted her version from Cooking Light, subbing in a cup of whole wheat flour to up the healthiness and make the flavor a touch more hearty. I’ve made her version just as is and absolutely loved it (instructions are below), but when I was most recently looking for something new in my breakfast routine, I decided to play around a little and see if I could sneak in a little more healthy without sacrificing flavor. And I think I succeeded! I made my bread with all whole wheat flour, cut the sugar in half, and substituted coconut oil for softened butter. I also threw in some chia seeds, because here lately I tend to throw them into any baked good that isn’t 100% a sweet. I’m not gonna lie to you–you can tell this loaf is more on the good for you end of the quick bread spectrum. There are a million different banana breads out there–filled with chocolate or laced with booze, for example–that might make your taste buds sing more, but this one is right on the money if you’re looking for a healthier grab and go breakfast option. And isn’t it nice to have options?

I love a tiny loaf.

I love a tiny loaf.

Beyond being tasty, relatively healthy, and a breeze to make, this bread has another thing going for it: while baking, it smells absolutely divine. Insanely delicious baking smell is one of the best things about banana bread in general, I tend to think, and this one does not disappoint. Hal was initially not so interested in what I was up to in the kitchen when I made this–he was busy working, banana bread isn’t one of his favorite treats (especially without chocolate) and I had pilfered bananas from his breakfast smoothie stash to make this, predisposing him against it–but as soon as our apartment started to smell amazing he hopped right up to see what was cooking and when he could sneak a bite. It was enough of a hit that we went through two small loaves in the time I thought it would take me to finish one. Thank goodness for the third tucked away in the freezer.

banana bread-j5

whole wheat banana bread
makes three small loaves (or one regular size)

2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 large eggs
1½ cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chia seeds
olive oil or cooking spray

(to stick with Sarah’s original–and extremely tasty!–version, use 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat, up the sugar to a full cup, switch out the coconut oil for softened butter, and omit the chia seeds)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and whisk together.

Beat together sugar and coconut oil with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed just until combined. Fold in chia seads.

Pour batter into three small loaf pans lightly coated with olive oil (as I write this, I’m not sure why I didn’t just use the coconut oil I already had out. Next time). Bake for one hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean–I started testing at 45 minutes, but it took the full hour. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

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