Nourishing Macadamia Orange Banana Bread

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(Note: this post was originally published on May 9, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)

A Banana Bread Upgrade

Banana bread is the most wonderful treat for any time of year and any occasion. But what's even better than banana bread??

How about this epic banana bread that's absolutely loaded with bananas (it contains three!), studded with buttery macadamia nuts, and kissed with beautifully fragrant orange? Yup, this is truly banana bread heaven.

You'll notice that I use the word "nourishing" in the title. Even though this bread is "free" of a lot of things, I usually prefer to focus on what's in a recipe rather than what's not in it. That's because I think of food as a way to nourish both the body and soul, and don't consider any foods as inherently bad. Simply put, this bread is loaded with good-for-you AND delicious ingredients.

Good For the Body Ingredients

This bread is loaded with good-for-the-body ingredients, making it a great breakfast, anytime snack, or dessert. In terms of its structure, this bread contains a mix of almond and coconut flours. Both are nutrient-dense, containing abundant protein and fiber. This bread gets its moisture from three (!!!) bananas, some drippy natural almond butter, and flax seed meal. It's naturally sweetened with just a touch of maple syrup.

For those of you keeping track, it's completely vegan and free of all refined sugars and flours. It's also incredibly moist and flavorful, with a hearty, dense structure.

I had to make this bread a LOT of times to finally get the ratios right. I wanted it to be moist but not spongy, delicate but not crumbly, loaded with flavor, and powered with ingredients I was excited to eat. Needless to say, Dave and I have eaten a lot of banana bread lately during all my experimenting. But I'm so excited about the finished product, and I can honestly say it's the most nourishing and also the most delicious banana bread I've come across.

A Very Special Hawaiian Nut

This is another recipe I've developed in collaboration with my friends at Mauna Loa on the big island of Hawaii, a.k.a. the producers of the most heavenly macadamia nuts. The decadent, buttery, crunchy nuts make an appearance both within this bread and on top of it. I'm a firm believer that banana bread needs some crunch, and MacNuts are the perfect way to do it. Plus, MacNuts, bananas, and oranges are all grown in Hawaii, so they're meant to be together!

Icing Options

Although I adore anything with icing, it's generally the least-healthy part of any baked good. As written, the recipe below calls for a standard confectioner's sugar icing, made with orange juice (or even better, orange liqueur!). It's delicious and beautiful. That said, you have options for your icing strategy, so pick what works for you. Here are some possibilities:

Option #1 (as written in the recipe): The prettiest and easiest. Use about 1 c of confectioner's sugar and add tiny increments of orange juice or orange liqueur until you have a thick, drizzly icing. This is what I've shown in the photos. It makes this bread so beautiful and adds a decadent bit of sweetness.

Option #2: No refined sugar, white, but messy. If you'd rather stay away from refined sugar, one possibility is to heat up and drizzle some coconut butter. It has a nice color, but won't harden in the same way that a confectioner's sugar icing does, so it's messier and will soak into the bread.

Option #3: No refined sugar, super tasty, but not great color. Use some almond butter as your icing base. Stir in a dash of maple syrup to sweeten it up, and add a bit of melted coconut oil (not water!) if you need to thin it out.

Option #4: Leave it naked. This bread is still delicious without icing, but it doesn't have the same visual appeal or decadence.

Let's Talk Ingredients

Here's what you'll need for this 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.

  • Bananas. Make sure they're super ripe, with lots of brown spots. It's very important in this recipe, since there's not much other sweetness.
  • Almond butter. The drippy, natural variety with just almonds and salt. I think this will work great with any nut or seed butter though, so please leave a comment if you try it.
  • Maple syrup. Honey will work fine too, although it has a more assertive flavor.
  • Flax seed meal
  • High-fat yogurt. I like to use 5% fat Greek yogurt, but a non-dairy option would be fine too. Choose something really rich.
  • Vanilla
  • Orange(s). You'll use the zest for the batter and for topping the bread, and the juice for making the icing. Feel free to use two oranges worth of zest if you really love that citrusy flavor.
  • Almond flour. Make sure it's super-fine and blanched. This is NOT the same thing as almond meal! Pack it down into the measuring cup to ensure an accurate measurement.
  • Coconut flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Macadamia nuts. Mauna Loa, of course! You'll need chopped macnuts for within the bread batter and whole macnuts for on top.
  • Confectioners sugar. For the icing... or see other icing options in the section above!

Closing Thoughts

A slice of this, maybe with some almond butter on top, would make for the most lovely breakfast, snack, or lunch. We've been jazzing it up with a drizzle of chocolate for dessert. Warm a slice up in the microwave for 20 seconds and magic occurs, especially because the orange smells absolutely amazing. If you really want to go crazy, toast a slice in a skillet!

I think we have a misconception in our society that "comfort food" is inherently bad for you, whereas "healthy food" is inherently boring. It doesn't need to be that way! This bread is an especially good example of a decadent, indulgent treat that will nourish the body as well as the soul.

Make yourself a loaf and slather a thick, warm slice with almond butter. It's instant happiness.

Share It!

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.

Suggested Pairings

Pineapple Express

Fruity Brunch Salad

Coconut MacNut Granola

Berry Banana Breakfast Popsicles

Wired Monkey Oat Flour Muffins

Disclosure: Mauna Loa is a long-term partner and I receive free product. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.

Nourishing Macadamia Orange Banana Bread

Banana bread gets an unexpected update with fragrant orange and crunchy macadamia nuts. This version is loaded with good-for-the-body ingredients too!

Author:
Lee

Ingredients

For the Bread

  • 3 large, very ripe bananas
  • 0.5 c natural, drippy almond butter
  • 0.25 c maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 2 tbsp high-fat yogurt of choice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Zest of a large navel orange, divided
  • 0.75 c super-fine blanched almond flour, packed
  • 0.5 c coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 0.25 tsp salt
  • 0.5 c coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
  • 0.25 c whole macadamia nuts

For the Icing

  • 1 c confectioner's sugar
  • Juice of an orange OR dash of orange liqueur

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 and oil a bread pan (I like to use coconut oil). You can also line the bread pan with a parchment paper sling for easy removal. If you choose to go that route, my preference is a long, narrow piece that goes the length of the bread pan and up the ends, with enough room to grab as you pull the bread out.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until smooth.
  3. To the bananas, add the wet ingredients (almond butter, maple syrup, flax seed meal, yogurt, and vanilla) as well as two-thirds of the orange zest. Give it a good mix, then let it sit for at least five minutes to allow the flax to thicken the mixture.
  4. Set the remaining orange zest aside for garnishing the top of the bread; keep it in an air-tight container while the bread cooks and cools so that it doesn't dry out.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt).
  6. Add the dry to the wet, and mix until evenly combined. Then stir in the 0.5 c of chopped macadamia nuts.
  7. Pour the batter into your prepared bread pan and add the remaining 0.25 c of whole macadamia nuts scattered across the top.
  8. Bake for 75-80 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.
  9. Let the bread cool completely before trying to remove it from the pan! Once it's cool, invert the pan (or use the parchment paper sling) to remove it. Note that the bread is pretty delicate since it's made with almond flour, so you'll need to treat it more gently than a bread made with traditional flour.
  10. To make the icing, add orange juice (or orange liqueur) to the confectioner's sugar in small increments, just until a rich, drizzly texture forms. Work slowly and stir after each addition, since a little bit of liquid goes a long way.
  11. Drizzle the icing onto the bread, then finish it all off with the reserved orange zest.

Leave a Comment

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

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Alison
June 26, 2020
Loved the recipe! Super dense and nutty.
Pamela
May 27, 2021
I made many substitutions (thanks Covid) and it still turned out wonderful. I suggest adding the macadamia nut topping part way through the cooking since mine burned slightly. This is delicious with a morning cup of coffee!
Lee
May 28, 2021
Pamela- Banana bread and coffee sounds like exactly the right decision! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Interesting idea about the adding the macadamias part-way through. I had wanted to try that, but wasn't sure if they would stick if the top of the bread had already firmed up a bit. Please let me know if you try it that way next time, I'm curious if the nuts will bake into the bread or just fall off.