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

Sinful Cinnamon-Apple Sauté (Breakfast or Dessert?)

Actually, this little dish isn’t sinful at all, but that title just sounds so good doesn’t it? Well, this saute does produce tender, juicy apples with a wonderfully rich, sweet, and cinnamon-y syrup, rendering it indulgent enough for a healthy dessert.

Cinnamon Apple Saute

However, I had it for breakfast. I ate it on its own as a part of my multi-course Sunday grazing. But, this simple recipe (just 10 minutes!) is incredibly flexible when it comes to serving options. You can:

  • Serve the apples with your favorite yogurt (mine being this one), stirring a bit of the resultant cinnamon apple syrup into the yogurt if desired.
  • Top waffles with the apples and resultant cinnamon-apple syrup.
  • Spread nut butter on a bagel, toast, or rice cakes, and top with slices of cinnamon apples (one of my faves).
  • Serve over rice or other grain (I don’t know why I just thought of this one, but it really sounds good).
  • Sprinkle the apples with ground flaxseed or your favorite granola (homemade if you can!).
  • Top the apples with a scoop of ice cream (this one and this one being my picks), drizzling some of the resultant syrup over top of everything for a sundae flare. Oh what the heck, sprinkle on some granola too!
  • You say you’ve finished the apples, but have a little bit of leftover syrup? Use it to sweeten your favorite tea! Problem solved.

Okay, now that you are brimming with ideas, lets get to the kitchen …

 

Simply Scrumptious Cinnamon-Apple Sauté
Recipe adapted from the October 2007 issue of Natural Health Magazine

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, optionally Vegan, and optionally Soy-Free

  • 2 Medium Apples (around 3/4 to 1 lb), sliced 1/4-inch thick (no need to peel!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed if you have it)
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Oil or Margarine (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey or Maple Syrup (I used honey, but I think maple syrup may be even better)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • Generous Pinch of Salt (especially if using oil rather than margarine)

In a medium sized bowl, toss the apple slices with the lemon juice and briefly set aside.

In a large skillet, melt heat the oil or margarine over medium heat. Add the honey or maple syrup and the vanilla extract, giving everything a quick stir. Add the apples, and stir to coat them with the sweet sauce. Sprinkle on the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and once again, stir to ensure the apples are evenly coated.

Cover, and allow the apples to cook for 3 to 5 minutes (or until desired tenderness) checking in to stir once or twice.

They are ready! Enjoy them as is, or see the beginning of this post for some serving options.

Cinnamon Pears Option: Use 2 medium pears instead of the apples. Pears are generally softer than apples, so you will only need 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time once covered.

Yields 2 Yummy Servings of Apples

Cinnamon Apple Saute

 

My Earth Day Note: One of my Earth Day resolutions is to try to eat more seasonally. While I was sure that apples were a fall fruit, it seems the crops are brimming right now. I purchase organic apples, since they are a top “pesticide crop.” An abundance of northwest apples (as local as it gets for this area) allowed me to purchase a bag of these beauties (Fuji I believe) for less than a dollar a pound.

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

“Buttermilk” Banana Pancakes Made with Love

Oddly enough, my husband and I had our very first date on Valentine’s Day.  I know, I know, not the best day for a first date, but it worked out well I would say. Yet, because we are frugal, we never go out on the actual day of to celebrate. There are no 2-for-1’s and you have to battle the crowds for reservations … simply not our style.

My sweet husband had already given me a beautiful Valentine’s gift earlier in the week (he can never wait!), but I still wanted to make something nice for him on this special day … 

Well, it was a nice attempt anyway. You see, while I can come up with ideas that work out well and customize recipes nicely, my execution is often very, very poor.  I am super-slow in the kitchen, and lack some of those basic skills … like the ability to flip pancakes.  Yep, they turn out like mutants.  Sure, they taste good, but pretty they are not.

After attempting to make several “normal-sized” pancakes, I finally realized that dollar-sized were the only way to go for my bumbling spatula skills.  That is when my wonderful husband entered. I pointed at one, and said, “See, that one looks kind of like a heart!” He reciprocated, “An internal one maybe!” After we both had a good chuckle, he took the helm, and some nice little pancakes resulted …

Wheaty Banana Buttermilk Pancakes

That work he did as a teenage burger flipper definitely left him with some solid life skills. Though I must say, that every meal seems to turn out better when we make it together. We make a great team.

So, with a belly full of these pancakes we headed out for a hike in the desert hills to enjoy the sunshine and the first day of our 14th year together.

“Buttermilk” Banana Pancakes

Vegetarian, Vegan / Egg-Free (optional), Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Peanut-Free, Tree Nut-Free

This recipe was inspired by one that I saw on Recipezaar. While I love banana flavor, I am not big on pancakes with too much bananal; it is a textural thing.  So I just used 1 large banana, which equated to 1/2 cup of mashed banana.  Feel free to use more if you prefer, they should still turn out nicely.

  • 1 3/4 Cups Original or Unsweetened Milk Alternative (I used almond)
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice
  • 2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (can use all-purpose, a combo of all-purpose and regular wheat flour, or experiment with your flours of choice)
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Large or Jumbo Egg (see note below for egg-free)
  • 2 Tablespoons Oil (I used grapeseed)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Honey or Agave Nectar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup Mashed Ripe Banana (1 to 2 large)

In a large bowl, combine the milk alternative and vinegar or lemon juice, and set it aside for just a minute.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set that aside.

Returning to the milk alternative, whisk in the egg, oil, honey or agave, vanilla, and banana. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just everything is combined, but do not overmix.  A few lumps are okay (especially since you are likely to have some banana lumps!).

Heat a small amount of oil (maybe a teaspoon) in a large skillet over medium-low to medium heat (my stove can get a little too toasty on medium). Pour about 1/4 cup of batter (or 2 Tablespoons for those little dollars) onto the skillet for each pancake.

Cook until the bubbles break on top of the pancakes (check to ensure they don’t brown too much though), flip, and cook for another minute or two, or until lightly browned on both sides. Serve with maple syrup, berries, nut butter, or other topping of choice. Since I was cooking, I completely filled up on munching them plain as I was going!

Flash freeze any leftovers and toast them up for a quick pastry breakfast anyday!

Vegan / Egg-Free Option: Warning, I have not tried this, but am fairly confident it will work.  If you want to omit the egg, either use more banana (aka the whole cup) or up the milk alternative to 2 cups, and add a wee bit more baking powder (perhaps round it out to a full 2 teaspoons).

Yields about 2.5 to 3 dozen dollar pancakes