This Healthy Banana Bread Recipe is 100% vegan, yet moist and decadent in all the right ways. Learn the best baking substitutions for traditional ingredients like butter and eggs. Plant based baking can be delicious and fun! A great recipe for first time bakers!
Healthy Vegan Banana Bread
I’ve never been much of a serious baker.
While I’ve always had fun baking – and I absolutely LOVE devouring everything from flaky almond croissants to crispy cornflake cookies to a slice of decadent chocolate cake – baking is a tad intimidating to me.
You see, baking is science. If you put certain ingredients in certain quantities together, the right reaction will happen.
However, something as incongruous as a heaping tablespoon of one ingredient can throw the whole mix off.
Ever have a batter you’ve made a hundred times just randomly not work one day? Me too! And, it’s probably because I mismeasured one thing in a rush.
Of course, it always seems to happen when we’re having company over for a meal 😉
By contrast, most of the savory cooking I do in my home kitchen can be fixed by a little dash of this – or a few drops of that. I follow my instincts, and it usually turns out fairly well.
Baking seems to rely on precision. And I’m only precise some of the time!
However, present me with list of minimal steps, and my baked goods will probably turn out pretty well.
What makes this easy banana bread recipe a total winner is how easy it is to follow all the steps to the letter.
Oh – and this healthy banana bread just happens to be vegan. So, if you’re following a plant based diet, this gonna be the banana bread for you!
Cool thing is, though: even if you aren’t following a vegan diet, this super healthy banana bread is oh-so moist and packed with flavor. You’re going to love it too!
A simple, healthy banana bread recipe
My first concern when conceptualizing this vegan banana bread recipe was making something that had full flavor – and didn’t come off as a compromise.
I’m not a fan of recipes that sacrifice taste in favor of just being healthy at all costs.
If it doesn’t taste good, no one is going to want to eat it! Kind of defeats the purpose of making it in the first place, right?
My second concern was crafting a healthy banana bread recipe that had minimal, easy to follow steps.
In fact, on the days I fire up the oven and experiment in my kitchen with baked goods, I refine the recipe using a simple, self-imposed guideline:
Is my recipe about as easy to whip up as making a boxed cake?
If the answer is, ‘yep – more or less as easy as a boxed cake,’ then I’m on the right track.
However, if it’s waaay more difficult, then I definitely have some more work to do. I’ll refine until I get the steps under control.
Obviously, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for creating recipes for baked goods. In most cases, when whipping up something quality, we’re going to have to follow more steps than what’s required to complete a cake mix 🙂
But it seems to be a decent barometer for whether I’ll want to make the recipe again in the future.
Luckily, this healthy banana bread is super moist and full of decadent cake-like flavor.
Oh – and following the steps should be a total breeze for even the most novice of bakers (like me!).
How to make Banana Bread Vegan
Most banana bread recipes call for butter and eggs.
And, as with many plant based recipes, one of the biggest hurdles can be finding workable alternatives to common and delicious ingredients that form the backbone of the dishes we love.
Don’t worry, there’s a solution!
For this vegan banana bread, I used extra virgin olive oil in place of butter. It really imparts a luxurious hit of moisture to the mix – and emulsifies nicely with the maple syrup.
But the star of the show (from the perspective of plant based ingredient alternatives) has got to be the ‘flaxseed egg’ for sure!
Wait… what is a flaxseed egg?
Eggs are used in baking for a ton of reasons.
They create stability in a batter – and help maintain the structure of the finished product, all while imparting much needed moisture.
Yep – eggs fill a number of roles in the baking world.
So finding a plant based alternative would be no simple matter…
… or maybe it would be the easiest thing I did all day!
You see, it turns out that mixing a tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 2½ tablespoons of water creates an egg substitute that does a great job of mimicking an egg’s structure building properties in this banana bread batter.
It sounds crazy – but it works well in quick breads like this one!
To make enough flaxseed eggs for this healthy vegan banana bread, I doubled up and made two (2 tablespoons ground flaxseed mixed with 5 tablespoons of water).
Simply mix the ingredients and let them sit for 5-10 minutes to thicken before use.
Works like a dream!
Added bonus: flaxseed is widely considered a wonderfood that may fight heart disease, breast cancer and diabetes!
My mother started taking flaxseed and no longer needs drops for her chronic dry eyes. (Obviously, check with your doctor before introducing anything new into your own regiment).
So, basically: flaxseed eggs appear to be good for your body – and are definitely good for this healthy banana bread!
Sounds like a winning combination to this home chef!
How to make banana bread
This is where it all comes together, friends!
Even if you’re a bit of a timid baker like me, this will be one of the easiest forays into the kitchen ever.
When baking, I like to get all of my ingredients pre-measured and set out in front of me so all I have to do is go step by step down my banana bread batter assembly checklist.
Completing a bit of mise en place ahead of time allows me to turn on some music and just enjoy a chill baking experience.
Preheat your oven to 325°F – and brush the inside of a bread or loaf pan with a bit of olive oil so your cooked banana bread won’t stick.
Now, in a large bowl, you can whisk your olive oil, maple syrup and flaxseed eggs together.
I find it helpful to the batter’s texture to keep whisking as I slowly add each ingredient.
Then slowly whisk in your almond milk, mashed bananas and lemon juice.
Next, toss in your baking soda and cinnamon – and then slowly stir in your flour until the mixture is smooth.
Now, don’t worry if there are a few lumps! A lump here and there won’t have a detrimental effect on your healthy banana bread.
Add the mix to your pan – and the hard part is basically done.
Just set it in the oven for about an hour.
A good test to see if your vegan banana bread is done is to stick a toothpick in the center of the loaf. If it comes out clean, it’s cooked through. You can always bake for a few additional minutes if needed.
How does it taste?
This was the moment where I kinda held my breath and hoped for the best.
If this vegan banana bread was healthy, but tasted *meh*, it would be back to the drawing board.
I have a term for any baked item that has sacrificed flavor for health somewhere along the line: Medical Bread.
And I was definitely hoping I didn’t have a medical bread situation on my hands!
… I never should have worried!
The first bite was moist with just the right amount of chew. The chopped walnuts provide a nice crunch and textural counterpoint.
My all time favorite thing from a flavor perspective was that the banana bread was sweet without being cloying.
The mixture of ripe bananas and maple syrup created a complex sweetness that allowed me to taste each element on its own.
And that’s the only sweetener I used in this healthy banana bread recipe.
That’s right – there’s no refined sugar or artificial sweeteners in this recipe.
If you had told me ten years ago that I’d be baking vegan banana bread with healthy ingredients and NO sugar, I might have called you crazy.
But I’m here to tell you, folks: It’s SO GOOD!
So, can I make whole wheat banana bread?
In fact, I made my own banana bread with whole wheat flour.
When developing this recipe, I tried versions with both whole wheat flour and all purpose flour.
What I found was that the recipe with whole wheat flour turned out the best banana bread as far as my taste buds were concerned.
The outcome was a banana bread that was slightly more dense and nutty than the version with all purpose flour. I really liked it!
You can always just use one or the other – OR create a mixture of the two flours to find the perfect balance for your tastes.
Just remember, whatever flour you choose, this is not a gluten free banana bread.
Both whole wheat and all purpose flour are made of wheat.
However you can find gluten free flour pretty easily these days.
Are bananas good for you?
You better believe they’re good for you!
This awesome yellow fruit is loaded with potassium, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, iron, folate and vitamin B6 to name a few.
But bananas also contain a good amount of fiber – which is great for heart health. Also, ingesting foods high in soluble fiber tends to keep you feeling full for longer.
Added bonus: they’re practically fat free.
As bananas ripen, the onboard starch turns to sugar.
Therefore, ripe bananas provide such a deep sweetness to this healthy banana bread which, in tandem with the maple syrup, negates the need to add refined sugar.
And, unlike refined sugar, ingestion of bananas shouldn’t cause the types of spikes in blood sugar you’d normally see from refined sugar.
However, like everything else, moderation is key!
Baking is fun!
Wow! I gotta tell you…
… I was kind of surprised that making this healthy vegan banana bread turned baking into a super fun exercise!
As I said, I’ve always been a bit more of a fan of the fly-by-night approach to cooking with savory ingredients.
There’s something challenging and comforting to me about embarking on a choose your own adventure mission in the kitchen, where ingredient amounts can be eyeballed and guessed at.
Baking is science and typically works in much more controlled circumstances.
A level tablespoon of this mixed with a level teaspoon of that will work 10 out of 10 times.
And that’s great if you’re patient – and read the instructions.
While I’m usually a bit more impulsive in the kitchen, this baking experience showed me that following the rules is fun too!
It provided me a framework to cook within – and still allowed me to experiment with different types of flour and sweeteners to find the mix that worked for my taste buds!
So let’s hear it for vegan banana bread!
This healthy loaf of deliciousness is moist yet light.
Decadent in all the right ways – and healthy in all the right ways!
What about you? What’s something you’ve always been a little intimidated by in the kitchen? Is it something that, once you played around a bit, you realized was actually fun?
I’d love to hear about your cooking experiences in the comments section!
Other simple, delicious and healthier baked recipes:
- Sweet Potato and Black Sesame Pound Cake
- Gluten Free Zucchini Bread
- Healthier Southern Cornbread
- Gluten Free Cranberry Cornbread
- Matcha Roll Cake With Fresh Blueberries (Swiss Roll)
Did you like this Healthy Vegan Banana Bread Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!