The Guilt-Free Banana Bread Recipe You Have All Been Waiting For …

Okay, maybe not ALL of  you, but ever since I posted about the Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread from my book, Go Dairy Free, I have been flooded with requests for the recipe. It is in the book (along with tons of dairy-free living info and many other awesome recipes, if I do say so myself), which can be ordered on Amazon for an insanely good price … but enough with the sales pitches … I am more than happy to share that recipe with you here!

But first, a little background on the recipe …

An important part of going dairy-free for me was turning to home-baked bread. At the time, every last loaf at my local grocer contained milk in some form (milk powder, cheese, whey, caseinate, etc.). Even when a couple specialty vegan/dairy-free brands appeared, they were way too costly to warrant regular purchase.

While I learned to enjoy pounding on dough for a good homemade yeast bread once in a while (excellent stress reliever), I don’t always have time or the patience for the process. So I set out to create a quick bread that was nutritious enough to use for my morning toast. With that in mind, this bread is completely sugar-free, using just the bananas for a hint of sweetness. I find it perfect as a base for nut butter, jam, or honey, each of which adds their own dose of flavor, wouldn’t you agree Ricki? [Ricki has a new cookbook out called Sweet Freedom – desserts without wheat, dairy, eggs, and refined sugar – so I consider her the ultimate expert on sugar-free baked goodies]

If you want a little of the sweet stuff, feel free to add around 1/4 cup of your favorite sugar (honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, sugar straight up, etc.) to the recipe. But, if you want a loaf of sugar-loaded, dessert banana bread, I suggest you look elsewhere.

Healthy foodies who know how to savor the flavor … read on, and fire up that oven!

Mini Sugar-Free, Spelt Banana Bread Loaf

Unsweetened Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread
Recipe from “Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living” by Alisa Fleming (yours truly!)

This Recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free and Optional Nut-Free

“Going out on a limb, I created a banana bread recipe that is completely void of added sugar of any kind, relying solely on the extra-ripe bananas for their natural sweetness. What resulted was a mildly sweet loaf of bread that my entire family adores. It is perfect for breakfast, and won’t leave you face down on your keyboard by 10am. Feel free to make this bread the night before, allowing the banana flavor to infuse and giving the bread time to take on some moisture. If you do prefer a bit of a sweeter loaf, add a bit of sweetener with the wet ingredients.” – [Yes, I just quoted myself]

1/2 Cup Unsweetened Milk Alternative of Choice
2 Tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
2 Cups Whole Grain Spelt Flour or Whole Wheat Flour
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Grapeseed or Coconut Oil
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3 to 4 Medium-Sized, Very (Very) Ripe Bananas, Mashed (about 1-1/2 to 2 cups mashed)*
1/2 Cup Nuts, Dried Fruit, or Other Add-ins (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl combine the milk alternative and flaxseed and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Returning to your mixing bowl, blend in the oil, vanilla, and bananas until well mixed. Stir in the dry ingredients by hand, being careful not to over-mix; a few lumps are okay. Gently fold in the nuts, fruit, or any other add-ins, if using. Spread the batter into your prepared loaf pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is browned and resilient to the touch. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Mini-Loaf Option: The loaf pictured above is actually a mini-loaf. This recipe will make four mini loaves, baked at 350º for about 22 to 25 minutes. I topped the loaves with some sliced almonds just before popping them in the oven and subbed the vanilla extract with 3/4 teaspoon almond extract for a slightly almond vibe.

* I prefer to use a full 2 cups of banana for the deepest flavor and a very moist bread, but using 1/2 cup less will allow the bread to rise a bit more.

Yields 10 to 12 servings

Overnight Double-the-Cinnamon Rolls

Thank you all for your great simple food ideas! I have already started enjoying some. Feel free to add in your favorites if you haven’t already.

So, last week my husband bought a small tray of cinnamon buns from the grocery store … that I couldn’t eat. No, he wasn’t being mean. In fact, since I was sick and I usually prepare him some breakfast in the morning (otherwise he will forget and get grumpy), he was being thoughtful (thoughtful I said, not healthy) by getting an easy  breakfast treat for himself. But darn it, those looked good. I wanted some … but they were riddled with dairy [if you are new, quick update: I was born with  a milk allergy that I did not outgrow, and thus live dairy-free – in fact, I wrote the book on it].

Well, my cold finally showed signs of letting up yesterday. Though still a bit sniffly and with the occasional coughing fit, the spring in my step returned, the dizziness subsided, and my taste buds came roaring back … and they were still craving those darn cinnamon buns.

So, what do you do on a Friday night? Well, I bake cinnamon buns … half way. You see, all of those recipes that require you to make cinnamon buns from scratch in the morning seem ridiculous. I am hungry in the morning! I don’t want to wait for dough prep and two whole rising times before I can sink my teeth into those babies. No, a little forethought is in order.

Vegan Overnight Double-the-Cinnamon Buns

As luck would have it, I was out of eggs. So these cinnamon rolls are vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), but don’t let that fool you, they are incredibly tender and delicious. You won’t know the difference between these and those fluffy store-bought cinnamon rolls. In fact, my husband swore that these were much better. As verified by the quantity he ate before I could even take a picture …

Vegan Overnight Double-the-Cinnamon Buns

Plus, I suppose these could even be called “pantry cinnamon rolls” for their use of basic everyday ingredients that require no refrigeration … how cool is that?! Did I mention I found another way to use up overripe bananas?

Overnight Double-the-Cinnamon Rolls

(Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, can be Soy-Free) – Inspired by a recipe on Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk

Dough:

  • 1 Package Active Dry Yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Milk (or other milk alternative), heated to lukewarm
  • 3 Cups Bread Flour or All-Purpose Flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Mashed Ripe Banana*
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil or Margarine, melted (I used coconut oil; can sub other oil if needed)
  • 1 Tablespoon White Sugar or Evaporated Cane Juice

Filling:

  • 1/2 Cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons Margarine or Coconut Oil (I used margarine)

Glaze:

  • 3/4 Cup Sifted Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Water as needed (1 to 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Maple Syrup (optional)
  • Margarine or Coconut Oil (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast and the warm milk alternative, and let it rest for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, and salt, and set aside. Returning to the yeast, mix in the banana, melted oil or margarine (I used coconut oil), and sugar. Add half of the flour mixture to your mixing bowl and stir to combine. Slowly mix in the rest of the flour until a nice dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead it for 10 minutes or so, adding more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed to keep it from sticking to your hands. You should end up with a fairly soft dough that is just slightly sticky. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover and allow it to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. Tip: I actually mix the dough by hand in a round pyrex baking dish with a glass lid. When done making the dough, the bowl is still lightly floured/greased (I cheat and even knead the dough in the bowl), and I just pop the lid on and set it aside to rise.

Punch the dough down; cover and let rest for 5 minutes. While that is resting, combine the filling ingredients. If using chilled margarine, you should end up with coarse crumbles. If you are like me and use softened margarine, you will get big soft globs of sugar. Oil or shortening should work okay, but I do like margarine for the filling.

Roll the dough into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture (it won’t fully cover, just evenly spread it out in small pieces as much as possible). Roll up the rectangle tightly, from the long side, pinch the seam to seal, dabbing it with a bit of water if needed. Cut the roll into 12 even slices. Place the slices in a greased 9-inch square or round baking pan**, cut sides down. Give them a little bit of space, as they will rise. Cover with plastic wrap, and pop them in the fridge to rise overnight.

In the morning, pull the cinnamon rolls from the fridge and place them on top of the stove while you preheat the oven to 375ºF. Bake them for 20-25 minutes, or until they are a light golden brown (I like them on the less browned side).

Let those piping hot cinnamon buns cool while you whisk together the glaze. Really all you need to do is whisk the powdered sugar with the vanilla extract and start with just a tablespoon of hot water, adding more only as needed. I also added some pure maple syrup, which I thought mellowed out the powdered sugar and added nice flavor, and I also added about a teaspoon or so of coconut oil to help round it out. Do what you like best, taste-testing as you go of course!

Serve up the cinnamon buns and drizzle with as much glaze as you like, or for less of a sugar rush, enjoy them as is.

Yields 12 cinnamony buns

Notes / Options:

* No Banana? – Like the recipe from Don’t Eat of the Sidewalk, you can use pumpkin puree or sweet potato puree in equal amounts to substitute for the banana. Heck, you may even be able to use applesauce … or some dairy-free yogurt!

** Pan Size – I actually didn’t have any 9 x 9 pans, so I used an 8-inch cake pan, fit nine cinnamon rolls in it (giving them each a wee bit of room to expand) and popped the other three, cut sides down in three muffin tins. The ones in the muffin tins cooked up just a few minutes faster. Feel free to wedge these babies into whatever size pans you have available. Give them just a bit of room, but not too much; you want them to rise, but also to be smooshed together once they rise and bake for that tender, pull-apart affect.

Vegan Overnight Double-the Cinnamon Buns

Homemade Hamburger Buns in a Jiffy

Ever have one of those times when a hamburger or veggie burger sounds so good (say, for example, right before watching a Super Bowl game), but you don’t happen to have any buns on hand?  Problem solved. These hamburger buns are insanely fast to whip up, because they do not require any rising time (just a few minutes of rest) …

No Rise Wheat Hamburger Buns

I followed the original recipe pretty closely, but now that I am comfortable with it, I have plans to experiment further, perhaps reducing the sugar, trialing it with other flours, going sans egg for a vegan option, etc.  But, in the meantime, I wanted to share it with you as it is just so darn helpful!

Speedy Wheat Hamburger Buns
Adapted from Recipezaar

This recipe is dairy-free (no milk, lactose, or casein), peanut-free, tree nut-free, and soy-free. You can substitute 1 Ener-G egg for a good egg-free and vegan option too (thanks Carolsue!) or you can use a “flax egg” as Melissa did here at Vegan Cooks.

2 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
1 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Warm Water (I used just 1 cup, and they still turned out nicely)
1/3 Cup Oil (I used grapeseed)
1/4 Cup Sugar (your choice)
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Cups All-Purpose or White Bread Flour
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the oil and sugar, and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes.

Add the egg, salt, white flour, and 1 1/2 cups of the wheat flour, combining until it forms a soft dough.  Add the additional 1/4 cup of wheat flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands (if you need a little more, that is okay too). Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes or so.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces, shape each into a thick disc, and place them on baking sheets about 3 inches apart.

No Rise Wheat Hamburger Buns

Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Lightly cover the balls of dough and let them rest for about 10 minutes (or longer if you wish).

Pop them in the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Yields 8 buns

No Rise Wheat Hamburger Buns

Non-GMO Corn Starch … for a Fair Price!

Bob's Red Mill Corn StarchThere are certain dietary things that my husband easily goes along with and there are other things … well, not so much.

No fast food?  Well he is getting better …

The vegan diet? It was a valiant 4-month adventure for him, but in the end, he is more carnivore than herbivore.

No GMO’s?  Well now we have a winner.  This is one area where he not only supports me, but he leads the way in enforcement during our grocery shopping trips (okay, so the once a week fast food may sabotage this just a bit, but I try to cut the guy some slack, we are making progress here!).

Anyway, I was stuck on cornstarch.  Arrowroot powder is expensive in my area (at least $5 a bag on a good day), and for some reason, it just doesn’t always perform as nicely as cornstarch.  But, I only found one brand of cornstarch, labeled as organic, that I could be sure was non-GMO … for over $5 a box!  Oh no.  This would just not do for a kitchen staple.  Desperate, I checked Whole Foods and spotted a big bag of the stuff from Bob’s Red Mill for just under $2.50.  Yet, the label said nothing about non-GMO or organic, so I contacted them.  To my positive discovery, they sent the following response … “All of our products, including our Corn Starch, are non-GMO.” Yes!

Since their product line includes a boatload of baking aids and grains (both wheat-based and gluten-free)  this was awesome to know as a back-up. Just wanted to share in case any of you have faced a similar dilemma.

Sugar-Free, Guilt-Free Banana Bread

The Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread recipe is now viewable in a new post for you to trial!

With a couple of over-ripe bananas beckoning from the counter, I knew it was time to take some baking action.  Luckily, blogging buddy Ricki reminded me of the “Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread” in Go Dairy Free. Though I was a banana shy of a full loaf, the recipe could easily be halved to make 2 mini loaves! (The original recipe will make 4 mini loaves or 1 9×5-inch loaf) 

About a year ago, I found myself a bit lost when faced with yet another mound of darkening bananas. With piles of cookies and sugary treats lingering in our house, a sweet banana loaf was the last thing we needed.  But then, I began to wonder what a quick bread would turn out like with no sugar at all.  After all, aren’t overripe bananas sweet enough on their own?  As it turns out, the bananas add just a hint of sweetness to the bread making it perfect to enjoy with jam in the morning, or any time of day really … and best of all, it is virtually guilt-free … no added sugars AND made with whole grain flour (the one pictured below is 100% spelt)!

Of course, you can add a pinch of stevia or some sugar if you please, but I recommend just a tablespoon or two, and certainly no more than 1/4 cup for the whole recipe.  It isn’t intended to be a dessert, but rather a nutricious quick bread that you can enjoy anytime of day, topped with jam, honey, or your favorite spread.

So, for those of you who have my book, the mini loaves seem to take 22-24 minutes at 350º to bake to perfection. I was out of vanilla extract (I know, and I call myself a baker!), so I subbed in almond extract (about 3/4 teaspoon), topped each little loaf with a generous tablespoon of sliced almonds, and slathered my first slice with … I am a bit predictable aren’t I? … almond butter!

Mini Sugar-Free, Spelt Banana Bread Loaf

Whether you use my recipe, or prefer to tinker with your own banana bread recipe, try cutting way back on the sugar for banana bread that isn’t made for gifting, but rather for a quick, tasty, and healthy breakfast or snack!