There’s something unbelievably comforting, warming and indulgent about a large slice of banana bread, especially when served warm with butter that melts into it and drips down the sides. Served with a cup of hot tea or coffee, it can make a grey, drizzly day seem so much better!
I’ve always loved banana bread. I used to think of it as a healthy option, and would sometimes deliberately buy a few extra bananas in my weekly shop and let them go nice and brown so I could have an excuse to make some. It’s very easy to make, and it’s got fruit in it – surely it must be healthy?
Sadly, most banana breads and recipes contain huge amounts of sugar, which seems ridiculous for such a sweet fruit. After giving up sugar on the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program, my tastebuds changed dramatically and fruit tasted like pudding. Seriously. A bowl of strawberries felt luxurious. And bananas tasted sweetest of all. So I quickly realised that I could make an amazing banana bread without the need to add any extra sugar at all!
Although you could make it plain if you like (just leave out the chocolate chips or replace with cacao nibs), I personally feel that banana and chocolate is a match made in heaven, and it’s my way of adding an extra little bit of sweetness without adding in a cup of sugar to the batter. By all means, make it free of added sugars (anyone on Sugar Free January?), but if you want it to taste like the sweet banana breads you might be used to, or just fancy an extra dose of indulgence, add the chocolate. It still comes out at less than 1/8 of a teaspoon (<0.5g) added sugar per slice, so it is really not far off being sugar free!
Kids LOVE this, too. And it gets them used to a slightly less sweet version. I’m a big advocate of baking sweet treats for kids yourself and using as little sugar or sweetener as you can get away with (and then use less each time), in order to adjust their developing tastebuds. They are not missing out – in fact, they are most likely seriously enjoying themselves (my son calls these “banana brownies”), and it means that when they do inevitably taste something shop-bought or highly sweetened, they may well find it too sweet as their tastebuds are not used to it.
Whether you are making this for the little kids or the big ones (like me), with or without the little bit of added sugar, for breakfast, snack time or dessert, I can guarantee it will taste delicious and be much appreciated. And use up those browning bananas in your fruit bowl in a much healthier way than usual!
This banana bread can be made (very) low sugar or sugar free, but it's always delicious! 🙂
- 250 g (1 and 3/4 cups) wholemeal flour (or use half wholemeal and plain, or even half gluten free plain and buckwheat for gluten free)
- 25 g (1/4 cup) cacao powder
- 1 tsp baking powder (use gluten free if you need it)
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 ripe bananas
- 2 medium eggs
- 110 g (1 stick) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp sugar free vanilla extract
- a few drops liquid stevia**, optional (only if you want a slightly sweeter loaf)
- 50 g (1/4 cup) 85%-90% dark chocolate, chopped into chunks (leave out or use cacao nibs or chopped nuts for sugar free
Preheat the oven to 190C/350F/gas 5. Grease and line a 2lb (1kg) loaf tin.
Mix the flour, cacao powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whizz the peeled ripe bananas in a food processor until mashed and add the remaining ingredients, except the chocolate, before blitzing again until smooth(ish). If you prefer, you can mash the bananas and mix with the other ingredients by hand in a second mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold in gently until just combined (don't overmix). Add about 2/3 of the chocolate chunks and stir them through the batter gently, then pour into the prepare loaf tin and dot with the remaining chocolate.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 mins - 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. If the chocolate starts to burn or the top of the loaf is getting dark, cover the loaf with some tin foil for the remaining baking time.
Allow to cool slightly or completely before serving. Best served warm (shortly after baking or reheated for a few seconds in the microwave, in thick slices, ideally with a spread of butter or sugar free nut butter.
Keeps for up to 3/4 days in the fridge. This loaf also freezes really well, just slice and freeze in a zip-lock bag or freezer safe container. You can easily double the batter and have one to eat for the week and one to freeze for another time.
*are your bananas not particularly ripe but you really want to make this loaf today? Check out these speedy tips for ripening bananas quickly (the microwave one works really well!).
**not sure where to get hold of liquid stevia? We buy this one - you need such tiny amounts (literally a couple of drops) in anything that this has lasted us over a year and we still have most of it!