United Kingdom

How to make a healthy banana bread

Lockdown has seen many Brits try their hand at baking banana bread, with many home bakers whippping up loaves amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

But now nutritionist Mays Al-Ali, from London, has revealed the simple steps you can take to make your sweet treat more nutritionally beneficial. 

Her tips include adding gluten free flour and ditching refined sugar for soft and sweet Medjool dates or coconut sugar. 

She also advised adding apple cider vinegar to help increase digestive enzyme production in the gut, which can help break down our food for digestion.

Here FEMAIL reveals the nutritionist's top nutritional tips on how you can make your banana bread healthier with a few simple swaps. 

Nutritionist Mays Al-Ali revealed how to make a healthy loaf of banana bread by swapping certain ingredients. Stock image 

Mays Al-Ali's banana bread recipe 

Ingredients 

3 Medium Bananas (make sure they are very brown and spotty!) 

180g gluten-free Rolled Oats, divided (not Instant) blended to make oat flour or you can reduce to 145g and add 35g raw cacao to make chocolate banana bread. 

You can also use half buckwheat flour or almond flour – buckwheat makes it less fluffy and more bread-like. 

35g Coconut Sugar (can halve this or I omit it entirely, adding 5 pitted dates) 

70g cup Nut or Seed Butter

2 tbsp Ground Flax or Ground Chia Seeds + 6 tbsp Water – or 2 eggs if not vegan version 

2 tsp Baking Powder 1 tsp Baking Soda

 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar 

1 tsp Vanilla Extract 1/2 tsp Salt 

1 tbsp organic Ceylon cinnamon (optional)

Method: 

 1. Add the bananas to the bottom of a medium mixing bowl and mash well, add in the remaining wet ingredients and mix well. 

2. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just until incorporated.Do not overmix. The batter will be slightly thick and a few lumps is OK.

2. Pour the batter in a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan and bake for 50 – 55 minutes. Ovens are different, so use your best judgement. 200C is usually ok. You can test for doneness using a toothpick, if it comes out clean, it’s ready.

3. Let the banana bread cool, slice and enjoy.

1. Use a gluten free flour 

The nutritionist suggested swapping out flour for a gluten-free alternative, which is low in glycemic index and of the complex carbohydrate variety.  

Gluten is inflammatory and it's very common for people to have gluten allergies or intolerance, causing serious digestive discomfort. 

But Mays revealed that pre-made gluten-free flour mixes often have fewer benefits than the natural variants, and suggested swapping these for oat, almond or buckwheat flours.  

These are naturally gluten-free, but are also packed full of complex carbohydrates,  so will help bakers feel fuller for longer.

She also revealed that the flour variants could give some extra flavour to the bake. 

2. Switch dairy for nut butter  

Dairy can also be very inflammatory for some, making it very hard to digest and causing an increase in allergies.

Mays suggested making a dairy-free banana bread, by replacing the butter and milk with a nut or seed butter, calling the switch 'a winner in my book'.  

But while dairy can be easily replaced, Mays added that eggs are 'super important' because they are nutritionally really beneficial. 

Eggs are packed with choline, which is needed to make acetylcholine, the brain neurotransmitter that’s required for healthy memory, thinking and muscle movements.

Mays advised trying to use organic free-range eggs where possible.

But if you are following a vegan diet or want to avoid eggs, you can swap for a flax or chia egg. 

3. Add apple cider vinegar 

Apple cider vinegar can help to increase digestive enzyme production in the gut, which can help break down food for optimum digestion. 

Mays also revealed that the unusual ingredient can help improve the flavour of baking, especially if you're not using eggs, because it can help the bread rise when combined with the baking powder.

The nutritionist also revealed how bakers should try adding spices such as cinnamon. 

She revealed: 'Cinnamon is wonderful - not only for flavour, but organic ceylon cinnamon has been known to help balance blood sugars, helping you to stay fuller for longer and help to reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes.'

By adding apple cider vinegar it can help to increase digestive enzyme production in the gut, stock image 

4. Ditch refined sugar 

Finally, Mays advised reducing the amount of refined sugar by using a natural alternative.

She said: 'Ripe bananas have enough sweetness in them, but if you are missing the sweeter bake, add in a few Medjool dates or, if you really need to, coconut sugar.'

Coconut sugar is lower Glycemic Index than regular sugar so will cause a slower spike in insulin and blood sugars. 

She added: 'Sugar is still sugar in my book so try limiting where possible, but it’s a great option if you can’t.'

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