Before I dive head first into this banana bread, I want to begin with a huge thank you for all of your sweet comments & congratulations on our big announcement the other week! Hubs and I are counting down the weeks (22 now) until our little peanut arrives. I know pregnancy posts may not be super exciting for or relevant for everyone who may read this little blog but, for those who asked or are wondering, I will be sharing occasional bumpdates along with some fun pregnant-lady stuff like maternity fashion faves and the joy of nesting in a small, San Francisco apartment.
Enough baby talk for now, though. Today I come bearing this delicious no added sugar banana bread, in part to make up for the long overdue recap of my 30 Day Sugar Challenge, but also because everyone should have a healthy, banana bread recipe in their back pocket–if for no other reason than to clear out the abundance of overripe bananas hiding in the back of your freezer.
As for the sugar challenge, it was harder than I ever anticipated, partly because I was secretly coping with some lovely side effects of early pregnancy, but also because I never once felt the “sugar-free euphoria” so many others seem to experience. I’m also not very good at mind games–especially when it comes to food restriction. Every day I missed having granola with my yogurt, and sadly, my morning lattes lost all their appeal. Unfortunately, that led to a rather unpleasant caffeine withdrawal as well. It was this banana bread saved me from cracking around the two week mark.
While I want to say I finished strong, I’ll be honest. I made it to day 21 before falling off the wagon, face-first into a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies. I know full well that deprivation is the root of why restrictive diets fail, weight loss or otherwise. I also know that, when giving up on a “diet”, it’s common to go from one extreme to the other. Clearly, I was no exception.
It wasn’t a total loss, though. During the challenge, I diligently tracked what I ate purely for the purpose of a before and after comparison. Overall, my total sugar consumption decreased by an average of 16 grams per day, about 4 teaspoons-worth. That may not sound like a lot (even I was rather unimpressed with that number at first glance) but in one year’s time those 4 teaspoons add up to nearly 13 pounds–about 2 ½ of those 5-pound bags you see on supermarket shelves. And while my consumption of added sugar decreased, the amount of fiber in my diet increased by more than 20% (from 19 to 23 grams per day). Potassium, too. The boost in these healthy nutrients likely came from all of the additional fruit (and banana bread) I was eating to satisfy those sugar and carb cravings.
I didn’t make it to day 30 but I did learn a few valuable things in the process. On a personal level, I stink at restrictive diets but so do most people which is why they’re just about the worst idea ever. I much prefer having a healthy relationship with all foods–including my chocolate chip cookies–and enjoying everything in moderation. I’m also way more sweet-sensitive now. As a result I’ve cut back on the amount of honey in my homemade granola, use a bit less vanilla syrup in my morning latte and now bake banana bread without any added sugar.
And after tasting this I’m not sure I’ll ever make it any other way–besides adding a handful of chocolate chips of course.
6-7 medium, overripe bananas, previously frozen and defrosted (fresh will work too)
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil (or other neutral-flavored oil of choice)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup walnut pieces (optional)
Butter & sea salt for serving (optional)
Note: If using fresh overripe bananas, roast them for 15-20 minutes at 450F and cool (reserving the liquid as well) before starting on the bread.
Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease an 8×4 bread pan and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the defrosted (or roasted) bananas, coconut oil, eggs and vanilla . Sift in the flour, baking soda and salt and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool before slicing.