Healthy Snacks: Easy Banana Bread Recipe

I was rummaging through my fridge looking for something tasty to temp me. I do this most days. Sometimes I just stand there staring, waiting, searching for an interesting edible thing to leap from the cold and shout, “PICK ME.” No luck. Fridays are never the tastiest days of the week to find something munch-worthy. Because I do my weekly grocery shopping trip on Saturdays, there’s usually nothing fun left to eat by Friday. Bummer.

So I got desperate and peeped into my freezer. Now, I’m not one of those people who keeps lots of frozen food kicking around in the depths of the cold box. Freezer-burned food kept long past the expiry date may be cold, but it sure ain’t cool. It just takes up space, costs moolah to keep cold, and no one ever eats it anyways. If you have a freezer full of food dating back to the Ice Age, do yourself a solid — clean it out or compost it, now.

So anyways, back to rummaging and foraging for food. My freezer proved fruitful. After digging around I found a bag of frozen organic apples left over from last year’s harvest, a container of dried organic cranberries I had saved from a Thanksgiving sale, and a bag of flour. Yes, I keep my flour in the freezer. Ever since my parents’ Great Weevil Infestation incident in the early 1990s, the whole Taylor clan stores their flour in the freezer. Trust me, you don’t want to start baking something delicious when your flour is wobbling full of buggy weevils. I still have nightmares.

Ok, so I have apples, flour, cranberries, and a hungry pit in my stomach. Luckily, I spied a bunch of overripe bananas sitting on my counter and decided that today was the day to make banana bread! Yay!

How to Make Frugally Easy Banana Bread

It’s really hard to screw up banana bread. Banana bread is just one of those recipes that demands you clean out your fridge (or freezer) and add ingredients already kicking around the kitchen. That’s why this recipe is frugal — you use the ingredients you already have on hand, and keep overripe fruits from hitting the trash can.

Ingredients like nuts, chocolate chips, eggs, spices, and even vegetables like zucchini go great in Frugally Easy Banana Bread. The only way to mess up banana bread is to buy it. Store-bought banana bread is usually stuffed full of hydrogenated oils with not enough bananas. Go figure! Plus, it can be costly to buy. So skip the store, rummage through your fridge, and bake your own banana bread.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 bananas (1 1/2 cups banana, mashed)
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup cranberries (or chocolate chips or nuts)

Step One: Prep ingredients and preheat oven

Assemble and measure your ingredients. Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) degrees. Add a little no-stick spray to an 8×4 loaf pan.

Call me a nerd, but I made my own apple sauce by putting thawed (previously frozen) apples into a blender. When it comes to making low fat banana bread, I find that apple sauce is the perfect ingredient for making banana bread moist.

I left the peels on because apple skins contain many nutrients. Besides, I find the peels pretty, they add fibre, and I’m too lazy to remove them. So there.

I put my homemade apple sauce aside for later.

Step Two: Mix dry ingredients

In a large bowl, mix together your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg.

If you’re into chocolate chips or nuts, then mix those in as well.

Step Three: Mix wet ingredients

In a large bowl, mix together your mashed banana, apple sauce, egg, vanilla extract, and cranberries. Now that’s a very moist banana bread recipe despite the lack of butter and oil.

I must admit, this stage doesn’t look too tasty.

Step Four: Combine and pour into pan

This is super easy, people. Just stir and combine your wet and dry ingredients. Pour the batter into your pre-sprayed loaf pan.

Ok, I had a glass loaf pan. You’ve gotta work with what you’ve got.

Step Five: Bake your banana bread

Bake your banana bread in a preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Remove banana bread from pan, and let cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Smells so delicious. I love how pretty the cranberries look when sliced. Now serve with a cup of tea or a glass of milk. Banana bread would also be splendid in a back-to-school lunch or as a healthy weekend snack for the kids. Enjoy!

More tasty things to do with leftover fruit:

Squawkback What do you put in your banana bread? What’s your favorite ingredient? Ever find weevils in your flour? Ack!

Your two cents:

  1. Money Smarts Blog September 2nd, 2010

    Looks delish.

    I’ve also heard it can be served with a cold beer. :P

    Mike

  2. Kerry September 2nd, 2010

    @Mike Only if you’re Canadian. ;)

  3. Snack Girl September 3rd, 2010

    This looks delicious. I do a banana bread with buttermilk that is pretty fab on Snack Girl.

  4. Rob September 4th, 2010

    Actually, old food in the freezer isn’t taking much energy to keep cold – it’s actually helping.

    The emptier your freezer is, the harder it is to keep what is in there cold – My fridge almost never runs these days, as I’ve got a couple of gallon containers (3-4 liter for you northerners) of … water in the freezer. Frozen water. Much as bricks are a good thermal mass for holding heat, water is a great thermal mass for keeping the air in the freezer (and thus fridge) cold. Obviously, if your freezer is full you don’t need this.

    The best part is that the compressor runs very infrequently, and the fridge & kitchen are very quiet most of the time.

  5. Rob September 4th, 2010

    Oh yes.. and your knife (and by extension knives) is awesome. I bought a set of Zwilling knives 20+ years ago and they are still in perfect shape after more than 1500 runs through the dishwasher.

  6. Kerry September 4th, 2010

    @Rob Great tip on keeping the freezer full! I do think clearing out the old ‘Ice Age’ food every now and then and doing a freezer rotation — bringing the older stuff forward — is a good task every month or so. There’s no sense having a freezer full of food no one is going to eat. :)

    Oh and you are very stealth to notice my J.A. Henckels knife — made in Germany. I only photograph the good ones, ya know. ;) But yeah, it’s worth every penny and should last forever. There’s something to be said about buying quality items that stand the test of time.

  7. Rob September 4th, 2010

    Oh yeah – getting rid of old food is always good. I noticed the knife as much because you (1) have the solid-handled ones with what looks like the old style (and best) design, and mostly because I looked at it and said to myself “that’s odd – using a tomato knife to cut bread”. I have one of those very knives and it is the most awesome tomato knife around :)

  8. Kerry September 4th, 2010

    @Rob Yeah, Carl also thought it was funny that I used the tomato knife to cut banana bread, but it worked amazingly well. :D I have photographic evidence. ;)

  9. Rob September 7th, 2010

    perhaps my time in Germany made me sensitive to things being used for their intended purpose :)

    I still recall with amusement a (Canadian) co-worker using white sausage mustard on another sort of sausage, and how his German co-workers gave him no end of grief.

  10. Julie September 12th, 2010

    Weevils? Just like you and your family, all it takes is one infestation to put my flour in the freezer, all the time. This is Texas, after all.

  11. anisia October 12th, 2010

    I made this banana bread for my boyfriend, and he absolutely LOVES it! I didn’t have apples or nutmeg, though, so I substituted with bartlett pears and Victorian Epicure Pumpkin Spice seasoning… It turned out wonderfully. I will definitely be making this again! <3

  12. Laura November 22nd, 2010

    This is great banana bread. I used 1 c of white flour and 1/2 c of whole wheat flour plus yogurt, with a little sour cream, in place of the applesauce (to use up what was in the fridge!). So tasty I had to make a second batch and turn it in to muffins to freeze for later. The cranberries do make it look very pretty when you slice it.

  13. Dante December 7th, 2010

    Hello everyone:
    Sounds great! Can I use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour?and if so,do I need more liquid?Thanks for your help……

  14. Elizabeth January 4th, 2011

    I’ve made some ‘nanner bread in my time and this is a keeper! Sending this recipe to a friend who is crazy for eating and MAKING HIS OWN! He’s a mason/bricklayer but he knows his way around the oven. He’s into boosting the protein and fibre, has a sweet tooth that won’t quit even if we beg him, plus he’s a fiend for chocolate and fat (he is this “l” skinny, and needs to eat hourly when he’s pouring on the coal. Never gains an ounce. Pushing 50!) GGGRRRrrr!!!
    He’s going to check out your recipe and add all the bits he hasn’t thought about yet. Thank goodness he will find something do to with all those apples from his neighbour’s yard…
    There is never a picnic, impromptu, beach day, birthday, occasion, or just a simple get-together when Jim hasn’t been able to add to it with his ‘nanner bread. You’ve just increased his goody factor: all of his friends’ waistlines thank you very much!
    Sidenote: Jim has been cutting out the fat in the recipes for others, but he brings along his own butter. So, we can choose not to have ‘nanner bread with butter. Most of us do… Win/Winnish.

    Most excellent site, squawkfox! You’re a keeper too!

  15. Q. April 8th, 2011

    By far my mostest favouritest add-in goody for banana bread is blueberries. I found a recipe in an old Pillsbury cookbook years ago for banana bread that called for blueberries instead of nuts, and have been making it that way ever since.
    Also, a trick I learned from a friend: since the top of a muffin is the best part, then make only the tops! Use a well-seasoned pizza stone, and just spoon the banana bread batter on the way you’d do for cookies. The cooking time is much shorter of course, you’d have to experiment to see what works for your recipe. Baking on the pizza stone helps them cook more evenly, plus the bottoms don’t get soggy.

  16. Kate June 22nd, 2011

    I just made it today as my first attempt to do banana bread and it is WONDERFUL. Even my dad likes it and he’s picky about what I bake (never trust your teenage daughter – you can never know what she added to this). I thought that because of my crappy oven it wouldn’t bake in the middle, but it’s ideally soft and moist. I addded 1/4 c of cranberries and 1/4c of chopped nuts, since I like both and I omitted the vanilla, because I ran out of it. Thanks for the recipe!
    Your blog’s great too :)

  17. John July 17th, 2011

    Great recipe. I added rasins and it really added some texture with a great taste

  18. Linda December 7th, 2011

    Banana Bread:
    1/4 cup crisco,1 egg,1 cup sugar,3 lg. bananas, mashed, 1 tsp. soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 1/2 cups flour. Cream the first 4 ingredients and then add the dry ingredients. I like to add a little vanilla, and a pinch of almond extract and chopped walnuts to my recipe. Bake 350 in a loaf pan sprayed with pam. for 45 min. or till toothpick comes out clean in the center of your loaf.

  19. carolyn August 25th, 2012

    My best banana bread recipe has bran or wheat germ (or 1/2 & 1/2) in it, plus honey instead of sugar, chopped nuts + chocolate chips + raisins or chopped dried fruit usually, but I have also added cranberries (I throw several bags in the freezer when they are abundant around the holidays). You can also add chopped candied ginger if you are a ginger fan….

  20. Debra August 27th, 2013

    Made this banana bread and was so delicious! It was enjoyed by many and didn’t last long. I made a loaf with chocolate chips, but will try nuts next time for a healthier option.
    Thanks Kerry.

  21. Karen March 9th, 2014

    I have all kinds of crazy stuff in my freezer. All the crust ends of bread or buns. Use for stuffing or dry in oven and grind in food processor with broken crackers to make homemade shake coating for foods. I keep chopped frozen peppers and others veggies (pre -chopped)in containers for using in deluxe hashbrowns and chinese style fried rice or homemade soups or casseroles or homemade pizza. I have bags of ground beef and veggie ground pre -seasoned and pre -cooked so my teenagers can make microwave nachoes at home. We hardly ever eat out and nothing is wasted. Meal prep time is much shorter. I have an old tupperware box that was intended for laundrysoap.Got it as a wedding shower gift and have used it for my flour for over 34 years. No bugs. I need all my freezer room for things from my garden.Have a child that won’t eat veggies – try finely grated carrot in your banana bread – we also like pinapple

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