Healthy Banana Bread

Fresh from the oven, banana bread is hard to resist -- and with our easy, healthy makeover, you don't have to.
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I used to make banana bread every week when my daughters were growing up. It didn't last very long; it was so delicious that we could eat a whole loaf in one day. Once the girls left for college, I started mailing them banana bread at school. After a while the requests dwindled because they said the bread was too fattening. Can you rework this recipe so it can go back on my regular baking roster?
-- Harriet Berger, Bayside, Wisconsin

Original recipe
Makes 12 servings
Work: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes, plus standing

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
3 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Nutrition facts per serving: 270 calories, 0.5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 36mg cholesterol, 235mg sodium, 40g carbohydrates, 4g protein, 25mg calcium, 1g fiber

Our Healthy Makeover
Classic banana breads contain anywhere from 10 to 16 grams of fat per slice. We cut the fat in Berger's recipe by replacing most of the oil with applesauce, which retained the bread's moist texture. We reduced the sugar, took out the milk, and increased the vanilla extract to boost the flavor. Our adjustments saved 70 calories and 6.5 grams of fat per slice. The makeover version was "lighter" and "less dense," our tasters noted, but both were "just what you think of when you say banana bread -- yum, yum, yum!" Use the ripest bananas -- those speckled with brown -- because they mash easily and are the most flavorful.

Makes 12 servings
Work: 20 minutes
Total: 1 hour 25 minutes, plus standing

Vegetable shortening, for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together sugar, applesauce, oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk in eggs until combined. Using a large spoon, stir in banana. Gradually stir in flour mixture until just combined. Evenly pour batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer bread in pan to a wire rack and let cool 5 minutes. Run a knife around edges of bread to loosen from pan. Invert onto rack and turn bread topside up. Let stand until cooled completely.

Nutrition facts per serving: 200 calories, 4g total fat, .5g saturated fat, 35mg cholesterol, 233mg sodium, 38g carbohydrates, 4g protein, 21mg calcium, 1g fiber

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, October 2008.


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