This three-spice sunflower seed, light and healthy vegan banana bread is perfect for any occasion–breakfast, teatime, or on-the-go snack. This banana bread has great flavor and texture and is also incredibly healthy as it is made with whole grains and is light on fat and sugar. It is made without using any processed sugar. The inspiration to make my first banana bread came not from a cookbook or a cooking show or a restaurant, but from a microeconomics class while doing MBA.
The professor while teaching an economic theory–something to do with using resources to the maximum capacity– used the example of overripe bananas. “We don’t throw away overripe bananas. In fact, we wait till fruit flies hover over the bananas and then we make banana bread out of it,” she shared. The professor’s idea really appealed to me as I actually used to throw away overripe bananas. And banana bread has remained as as one of my favorites since then.
The current recipe has greatly evolved from my first recipe I tried 15 years ago. Over the years, as I learned about food ingredients, my banana bread recipe kept getting more flavorful and lighter on sugar and fat. Let me not keep you waiting to reveal those healthy ingredients. Here is how to make it:
You need overripe bananas. This is super important. Overripe bananas have concentrated sugar, which gives natural sweetness to the bread. Mash overripe bananas to a pulp with the back of a big spoon, potato masher, or just with clean hands, take your pick.
I almost always use whole grains in my cooking and this banana bread is no exception. I have used whole spelt flour to make this bread. Please note that spelt is not gluten free. You can also use white whole wheat or regular whole wheat flour (please see the recipe notes). I like spices in almost anything. For this bread I use cinnamon, clove, and ground ginger. But if you don’t have all the spices available in your spice cabinet, don’t let it stop you from making the bread. Move along with whatever you have. Don’t forget salt and baking soda.
You also need a flax egg (recipe here). I have not tried it but any other egg alternative should work as well. This recipe does not use any processed sugar. I usually use natural sweeteners like maple syrup. If you don’t have maple syrup in your pantry, you can replace it with organic cane sugar (see recipe notes). You also need oil. My choice is avocado oil as it’s taste is somewhat neutral and has high smoking point (more on this later). Grapeseed oil also works well. Last but not the least, the secret ingredient: Apple cider vinegar.
I add sunflower seeds to this banana bread, but feel free to add any other kind or even chopped walnuts. Chocolate chips are totally optional. I am not a big fan, but my kids love chocolate chips. I often make this bread without adding any chocolate chips.
Mix all the dry ingredients (except sunflower seeds and chocolate chips) in a mixing bowl. Similarly, mix all the wet ingredients (except apple cider vinegar) separately. Add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet and whisk until mixed. Usually I whisk it 6-7 times. Add the vinegar and mix (2-3 times).
Fold in sunflower seeds and chocolate chips (if using). Don’t forget to prepare the baking pan in advance. I usually smear the 8.5″ x 4.5″ pan with oil and then sprinkle some flour. That always works well. Put the bread mixture in the prepared pan and bake at 350 Fahrenheit for about 1 hour. This bread will keep for 3 to 5 days in an airtight container in refrigerator. You can also freeze it for about 4 weeks. Enjoy.
Three Spice Sunflower Seed Healthy Banana Bread
Super big on taste and texture, this three spice sunflower seed, light and healhty vegan banana bread has no processed sugar.
- 1 cup whole spelt flour*
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger**
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp cinnamon***
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, raw, unsalted
- 1/4 cup unsweetened dark chocolate chips (optional)
- 2 overripe mashed bananas (1 cup mashed)
- 2 tbsp avocado oil (or any other kind)
- 1 flax egg
- 1/4 cup maple syrup****
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (can sub it with white vinegar)
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Prepare a 8.5" x 4.5" baking pan by smearing oil on all sides and sprinkling with flour.
Add all the dry ingredients (except sunflower seeds and chocolate chips) to a bowl and use a whisk to mix well.
Add all the wet ingredients except apple cider vinegar to a separate bowl and whisk till well mixed.
Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix well with a whisk. Add apple cider vinegar and mix it a couple of times with a whisk.
Fold in sunflower seeds and chocolate chips (if using).
Bake in the preheated over for around 1 hour. It's a good idea to start checking at around 55 minutes. When done, a fork or toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean.
Put the baking pan on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes before tapping the bread out of the pan. Enjoy.
*you can sub it with 1 cup of white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour. With regular whole wheat flour the texture tends to be less tender, but still tastes great. You can also use 3/4 cup regular whole wheat flour+1/4 cup of all-purpose flour to get a softer bread.
**I have not tried it in this bread, but you can sub ground ginger with 1/4 tsp freshly grated ginger.
***If you don't have ginger or cloves, increase the cinnamon amount to 1.5 teaspoons.
****I prefer my bread not too sweet. You can add 2 tbsp of additional maple syrup to make the bread sweeter. Instead of maple syrup, you can also use 1/4 cup + 2tbsp of organic cane sugar+ 2tbsp apple sauce (or oil)
Make it low-sugar
To lower the sugar content you can decrease maple syrup by 2 tbsp and add 2 tbsp of unsweetened apple sauce.
Make it kid-friendly
Instead of unsweetened, add semi-sweet chocolate chips. You can also add 1-2 extra tbsp of maple syrup to make the bread sweeter.