Growing up banana bread was one of those foods that my sisters and I would always make with my mom. It wasn't necessarily any old secret family recipe, but it was something we looked forward to each fall, and something that my mom used to teach us how to bake.
We learned pretty young that any recipe really is only as good as the ingredients used to make it, and now that message is stronger than ever. You see my mom, and my grandmother you could say were ahead of their times, but really they were just sticking to traditions that had been around for centuries.
Bake and cook from scratch. Use what is in season. Choose to appreciate the food you make and that feeds your family. Allow the ingredients to shine. Consume a vibrant, varied diet. Always leave room for dessert.
Today, I love using these principles that I grew up learning how to cook and bake with and translating them to help reinforce my sustainable, conscious way of living. This means rather than focusing on the calories or fat content in a recipe, I am focusing on where the ingredients come from, and how the recipe fits in my health conscious life.
I 100% believe that a healthy diet needs to include indulgences, foods that we are not meant to eat because they are "healthy" but are meant to be enjoyed! Decades of diet culture makes this idea of allowing flexibility and enjoyment in our diet to mean something bad, when in fact it is the exact opposite. That is why I am sharing a banana bread recipe with you today, that doesn't focus on being "healthy" but instead focuses on being filled with as many sustainably sourced ingredients, and tastes amazing.
When it comes to transitioning your baking in a way that supports a sustainable/ethical food system, it's important to think about where your ingredients come from.
- Could you replace refined white sugar for a sustainably sourced/fair trade coconut sugar?
- Could you use local honey or maple syrup instead of a bottle shipped from China?
- Could you replace your conventional wheat flour with flour from a local bakery?
- Could you choose to bake with fruits that are in-season, or purchase fruit in-season and freeze to use for baking later?
- Could you buy a local butter or sustainably sourced coconut oil to use for baking instead of margarine or shortening?
- Could you switch to a local spice company or an organic/fair trade certified brand?
- Could you look for fair trade/organic bananas, avocados, etc. that will never be local or in season to your region but you still wish to consume?
These are all questions you can ask yourself the next time you want to bake. While some of these ingredients may be a little more expensive than their conventional alternatives, what I have found is the initial process of setting up a more sustainable pantry is an investment, but once you have most of the ingredients you need, you can move forward baking more high-quality recipes that you can really feel good about, and less recipes filled with processed ingredients you don't connect to.
cinnamon swirl banana bread (gluten free)
- 2 cups oat flour (gluten free)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup almond butter
- 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 bananas mashed + 1/2 banana for topping
- Optional: Chopped walnuts
- Optional: Honey for topping
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Grease a bread loaf pan generously with coconut oil, or place parchment paper in the loaf pan.
- In a small bowl, take three peeled, ripe bananas, and mash well.
- In a separate medium size mixing bowl combine the oat flour, baking soda, and sea salt.
- Next in a stand mixing bowl, add the eggs, coconut sugar, almond butter, coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla extract, and mashed bananas. Mix well until evenly combined.
- Once your wet mixture is combined, add the dry mixture slowly, stirring on low until the wet and dry ingredients have been combined.
- If you would like to add nuts to your banana bread you can add them to the mixture at this time.
- At this point take your banana bread batter and pour it evenly into your greased loaf pan.
- Next, in a small bowl mix together all the ingredients for the cinnamon swirl.
- Taking a spoon, swirl the cinnamon swirl mixture into the banana bread batter. Be careful not to stir it in too much, you want to be able to see the swirl.
- Optional: Slice a banana length wise and place on top of the banana bread mixture.
- Place in the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until top begins to brown and the bread is evenly cooked through.
- Allow to cool entirely before serving.