Once in a while, a recipe comes along that Changes. Your. Life.
I realize this is a wee bit of hyperbole, but truly, this recipe is so killer, and has opened up so many possibilities for me, that I’m going to big it up that much!
One of the major issues we’ve had with food here in Costa Rica is that all of the healthy convenience foods I was used to having access to in New Jersey, like organic cookies and granola bars, are either completely unavailable, or ridiculously priced here.
And virtually all of the locally produced cookies are jam packed full of chemicals, preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors.
So, I’ve been trying to carve out some time to get back into baking my own cookies, banana bread, muffins, etc.
Of course, when it comes to baking at home, how healthy the finished product is all depends on the ingredients and their quality!
Homemade cookies with regular non organic white flour and sugar are certainly better overall than store bought ones full of chemical crap, but they’re still not great, and I’ve been looking for healthier options available.
And so recently, while perusing the shelves of one of the supermarkets here which had a section of non-wheat flours, I happened upon something I had never seen or even heard of: banana flour.
“Banana flour? How the heck do they make flour out of bananas?” I wondered.
I was intrigued to say the least.
I bought a box, took it home, and read up on it a little.
Here is what I learned!
Banana flour is made from green bananas, which as you may know, have very little sugar in them at that point, and are full of something called resistant starch.
Resistant starch is a super interesting type of fiber found in certain types of foods, such as green bananas, oats, raw potato starch, and cooked and cooled rice.
Here’s a great article on some of resistant starch’s health benefits!
Banana flour has been a pretty common diet staple in tropical countries for a very long time, but it’s only started becoming more popular in North America, and Australia very recently. I’m not sure if it’s available in Europe, but I would imagine someone is selling it somewhere!
It’s not only full of resistant starch, but also tons of vitamins and minerals such as potassium that are naturally present in bananas
Here’s the brand I currently have in my kitchen, from one of the health food stores here in CR.
There are a couple of other local Costa Rican companies that make it as well, and it’s easy to find in virtually every CR supermarket.
Luckily for my readers in the US and Canada, there are a few brands available on Amazon that get great reviews, including these two!
You need to run, don’t walk, to the store (or Amazon) and get yourself some of this amazing flour, because let me tell you, it is just fantastic!
Not only for baked goods, but also breading, in smoothies for extra fiber, to thicken soups etc.
It does have a very subtle nutty flavor, but it really works in harmony with most recipes, or else isn’t even noticeable.
Put another way, my kids have never even cottoned on to the fact that what I was baking wasn’t made with junky white flour!
It’s light and fluffy, and can be subbed in most recipes almost 1 to 1. The one I have, I’ve been subbing exact amounts, but a couple of others I’ve seen say 3/4 cup banana to 1 cup of regular white flour on the package. I’d say start with the lower amount and adjust if needed.
I’ve been making banana bread with it recently, and let me tell you, a loaf never lasts the day in my house. My kids devour it like they haven’t eaten in years, and my hubby loves it as well.
The absolute best part, is that banana flour is full of nutrients and fiber, and is also gluten free!
We’re not a gluten free household, but my mom, who is living with us for a few months, is and she’s able to enjoy all of the delicious baked goodies I’ve been making with the banana flour as well.
I’ve been experimenting with muffins, which also turn out fluffy and delicious, and plan to move on to making cookies with banana flour very soon, so watch this space for results!
So… without further ado, here is my ridiculously moist and delicious banana bread recipe, which I can confidently say is a far healthier option for yourself and your kids than any store bought (and even most homemade) banana breads.
It takes me about 10 minutes to prep, and then around an hour to bake, FYI…
Banana Flour Banana Bread
Preheat oven to 350F/180C
All ingredients should be organic where possible.
½ cup (one stick) of room temp. butter. I like salted, but unsalted is also fine.
1 cup organic brown sugar. Note: You can also use date sugar, palm sugar, coconut sugar, or evaporated cane juice if you prefer. You could probably even use maple syrup or honey, you’d just have to add some extra banana flour to balance out the liquid.
2 eggs (pastured if possible!)
4 very ripe medium bananas, mashed.
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups banana flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt. (1/2 tsp if your butter was salted)
1 tsp. cinnamon (optional, we prefer it without)
Other optional add-ins include ¾ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, and/or ¾ cup of chopped walnuts or pecans. We’ve tried both and chocolate chips are my kids’ fave option, while I like the nuts + choc chips combo personally!
Beat the eggs and sugar together for several minutes until somewhat creamed. Most of the sugars I’ve suggested don’t cream quite the same as white sugar, so don’t stress it too much. Just make sure it’s well blended and a little fluffy.
Add eggs and beat for another 30 seconds or so. Add mashed bananas and vanilla and use mixer or a big spoon to blend it all together well.
In a separate bowl, mix together banana flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Add to wet mixture and mix well with a large spoon or spatula.
Fold in chocolate chips or nuts if desired.
Line a regular sized loaf (the usual 9” x 5”) pan with parchment paper, and pour mix in, jiggling the pan slightly so that it settles to all corners fairly evenly.
Bake on middle rack for 50 minutes. Check with a clean butter knife in the middle of the loaf for done-ness. If it needs a little longer, leave it for another 5-7 minutes and check again.
When finished, take it out of the pan by lifting up the parchment paper, and allow it to cool a little on a rack. We like it best still warm, with butter, but completely cool, or even cut into slices and refrigerated and eaten the next day, it’s still freakin’ delicious!
Chances are, it won’t be around that long, anyway!
Questions? Planning to make this?
Let me know how it turns out, and if you have any suggestions to make it even better!