Do you love banana bread but not the typical ingredients? Me too. That's why I've spent the past six months repeatedly testing and tweaking this recipe that I'm beyond excited to share with you. My goal was to develop a vegan banana bread that is super-nourishing, friendly for virtually any diet, and uses a relatively small number of simple, whole-food ingredients.
This recipe addresses my own frustrations about never being able to find a banana bread that was the right fit. Many vegan banana bread recipes still use refined sugar and oil. Many banana breads using nourishing alternative flours then rely on eggs and refined sugar for texture. Many so-called healthy banana bread recipes make one or two swaps but are mediocre nutritionally. I just couldn't find a recipe that met all of my aspirations, so I decided it was time to develop my own.
The end result is everything I've ever dreamed of. This healthy banana bread has a lovely soft, dense, moist texture and is hearty without being heavy. It's delicately sweet, has loads of banana flavor, and the loaf has a beautiful height with a deep golden crust. It also happens to be vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free, and oil-free. As an added bonus, it's quite high in protein. Ready to learn my secrets?? (Hint: chickpeas, tahini, and dates!).
How to Make Healthy Banana Bread
This recipe was a product of a lot of development and testing, so I'm excited to share with you what I learned along the way. In order to create the most nourishing banana bread possible (that is still easy and inexpensive to make), I focused on several key areas:
Flour. I wanted this bread to rely completely upon nutrient-dense, high-protein flours. This is tricky in a vegan loaf, so I used chickpea flour because it has a texture that's very similar to wheat flour.
Fat/moisture. I wanted this protein banana bread to be both oil-free and vegan. After testing a number of different combinations, I found that a LOT of bananas (three big ones!) and tahini created the best texture and flavor.
Sweetener. I wanted this recipe to be entirely fruit-sweetened. Bananas are of course sweet, but this recipe needed some extra sweetness and flavor to stand up to the chickpea flour and tahini. I found that date sugar yielded the best results.
Ingredient accessibility/price. I intend to make this vegan banana bread frequently, and I hope you will too! Accordingly, I wanted it to be easy, to use relatively few ingredients, and to use relatively inexpensive ingredients. You won't find any fussy starches, gums, or pricey nut flours here.
This was not an easy quest. If you've done any alternative baking, you'll know that it's relatively simple to make a vegan quick bread and also relatively easy to make a quick bread with nutrient-dense flours. However it's not easy to do both of those things at once, which is exactly why I had been dissatisfied with all the other recipes I could find.
How to Make Banana Bread with a Sugar Alternative
Baking without refined sugar is a challenge, but one that yields much healthier and tastier results. There are some decent granulated sugars available, like coconut sugar. I also enjoy working with maple syrup, but adding liquid sweetener to a baked good can yield a gummy texture. However, my current favorite sugar alternative may surprise you: it's date sugar!
Date sugar is my favorite sugar alternative for a few reasons. First, it's derived entirely from fruit. Second, it's granular and hence much easier to work with than a liquid sweetener. And third, it has a lovely caramel-like taste that really enhances baked goods, giving them some subtle but decadent butterscotch-like flavor.
I've fallen in love with the date sugar from D'vash. It has just a single ingredient: dates! Those dates have been dehydrated and then ground, creating a fine-grained sugar that works great as a refined sugar substitute. I also love that D'vash uses "ugly" dates that would have otherwise been wasted, so it's a sustainable product too. I hope you'll try this date sugar out, not just in this healthy banana bread recipe but in a lot of different baking applications. Use the code ROGUE to get 20% off all of the wonderful D'vash date products (including whole dates, date syrup, and date bars/bites).
Protein Banana Bread
This banana bread is surprisingly high in protein. If you cut the loaf into ten slices, which are the hearty slices I've shown in these photos, then each slice has about 7 g of protein. We can thank the chickpea flour, tahini, and walnuts for that. And unlike most protein banana breads, this one doesn't rely on protein powder (which can be expensive and sometimes contains artificial sweeteners, gums, etc).
Because this loaf has good protein, some healthy fats from the tahini and walnuts, and lots of great fruit thanks to the combination of bananas and dates, it's a nourishing breakfast, snack, or dessert. We've actually been enjoying slices of this protein banana bread for lunch (with some peanut butter on top, of course) because it's so nutritionally-dense. I'm excited to have this recipe as a staple in our kitchen and will definitely be making it every week or two because it's a treat I can feel good about enjoying.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here's what you'll need for this vegan banana bread recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Ripe bananas. Make sure they're very ripe, with almost all brown skin, to maximize their flavor and sweetness.
Tahini. Tahini is the primary fat in this healthy banana bread. Choose a tahini that's creamy, rich, and delicately sweet rather than one that's bitter or gloppy. This is my go-to tahini and is the one I developed this recipe to work with (use the code ROGUE for 20% off; note that I haven't tested this recipe with other tahini brands).
D'vash date sugar. This beautiful sugar, made entirely from dates, has a rich caramel flavor. You can get it from the D'vash website; use the code ROGUE for 20% off.
Chickpea flour. A key component of this protein banana bread, chickpea flour is reasonably-priced and yields a lovely, light texture. Look for it online or at health food stores. I like Bob's Red Mill, which is what I developed this recipe to work with. I don't suggest trying to substitute the chickpea flour because other flours will behave very differently.
Dates. I love adding luscious dates to this bread for extra sweetness and texture. The best dates are of course from D'vash; use the code ROGUE for 20% off.Feel free to use chocolate chips instead for a more decadent version (opt for vegan and/or unsweetened if desired).
Walnuts. Walnuts are a classic in banana bread, but you can certainly leave them out if you have allergies or want to make a simpler version. Pecans would also be tasty.
I'm beyond excited to share this recipe with you. This is the banana bread that I want to be making and enjoying in my own home on a regular basis. It's delicious and versatile, but also loaded with good-for-the-body ingredients that meet all my nutritional goals. It's the vegan banana bread recipe I've always been looking for but have never been able to find. Can you believe that this bread is basically just chickpeas, sesame seeds, bananas, and dates?
How will YOU enjoy this gorgeous loaf? Will you toast it in a skillet and spread it with peanut butter? Will you pack it in your gym bag or your hiking backpack for a protein-rich snack? Will you have it for dessert, maybe with a scoop of banana nicecream on top? With ingredients this nourishing, I can't wait for you to enjoy it in all of these ways and beyond.
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
Disclosure: This recipe has been developed through a paid partnership with D'vash. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.
Healthy Vegan Banana Bread (High Protein and Gluten-Free)
This luscious loaf is vegan, entirely fruit-sweetened, oil-free, grain-free, and surprisingly high in protein thanks to chickpea flour and tahini. It's the healthy banana bread recipe I've always dreamed of.
Oil of choice and/or parchment for preparing the pan
2 c very ripe, mashed bananas (about 3 very large or 4 small)
0.5 c tahini
1 c date sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1.5 c chickpea flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
0.25 tsp salt
0.25 c chopped dates
0.5 c chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a loaf pan. For easiest removal, line the pan with a parchment paper sling and spray it lightly with coconut oil.
Mash and measure the bananas.
Combine the mashed bananas, tahini, date sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
In a small bowl, combine and mix the chickpea flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined.
Stir in the chopped dates and walnuts.
Transfer the batter to the prepared bread pan. Bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes until the crust is deep golden and a toothpick comes out just barely clean. Cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing.