Thursday, February 13, 2014

Reduced-Guilt Banana Bread

I debated whether to call this post Low-Fat Banana Bread or Multigrain Banana Bread, as the recipe from the Weight Watchers cookbook that inspired it labels the loaf. However, as I'm obsessive about food and always guilty about putting cake and other sweets in my mouth, I just thought I'd add the "Reduced-Guilt" modifier. Still, after you've downed two or three (or four) pieces, the guilt factor does go up, no matter that the points-plus count per Weight Watchers says only 4 points per slice (about 3/4 inch thick each of a 9-inch loaf). The only solution I've discovered is simply to give the treats away or hope that someone hungry comes to visit.

As for banana bread, it's truly a go-to staple for me, as it may be in many households where bananas are often neglected once they go from yellow to speckled brown to black. The reason for this, as I found after a quick Google search, is an enzyme called amylase that breaks down the starch in the banana and turns it sweet. Another enzyme softens the banana, while oxygen turns the peel brown. You can read more on this at the eHow website if you're so inclined. But the obvious truth that any banana lover discovers is that the fruit, when not eaten within a few days, ripens, turns black and has a soft and sweet but mushy interior. This is optimal for making banana bread but less so for slicing into your morning cornflakes.

I've made some terrific banana bread laden with butter, sugar and nuts--and calories. The one in the Weight Watchers Power Foods Cookbook uses a variety of flours, including oat bran, corn meal and whole wheat; oil in place of butter; and egg whites instead of whole eggs. The sugar content is lower than some other recipes I've tried, but not entirely absent; I've upped the sweet and crunchy factor by adding a topping of a few chopped nuts, a bit of sugar and cinnamon, and voila--Reduced-Guilt Banana Bread! (Couldn't call it "no-guilt" for obviously reasons).

Here's the recipe:

Reduced-Guilt Banana Bread

(Adapted from Weight Watchers' Power Foods Cookbook)

12 servings


1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour*
1/4 cup oat bran**
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal (fine or medium grind)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
 3 egg whites or 1/2 cup egg substitute***
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

*The original recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour.
**I used a mixture of oat, wheat and corn bran.
***I used Trader Joe's Cage-Free 100% Liquid Egg Whites.


3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 5x9-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.

2. Whisk together the flours, bran, cornmeal, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

3. Mash ripe bananas with a fork in a small bowl and set aside.

4. With an electric mixer on medium speed--or by hand with a wooden spoon (my method)--beat the egg substitute or egg whites together with the sugar and oil until creamy. Add the mashed banana and vanilla or almond extract. Mix in the mixer or by hand until thoroughly combined.

5. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir the flour mixture into banana-egg mixture until just combined.

6. Mix together the topping of sugar, nuts and cinnamon and set aside.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, making sure it's evenly distributed. Sprinkle the nut and sugar mixture evenly on top.

8. Bake the loaf for 45 to 50 minutes, checking with a toothpick or skewer to make sure the center is done (if batter clings to the stick, it needs a few more minutes).

9. Cool in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes before running a knife along the edges, turning over the pan and gently tapping onto the rack. Allow to cool completely before slicing (unless you can't resist cutting off a piece, which I never can!).

Points & Calories

(1 3/4-inch slice)

154 calories
5 points


  1. I tinkered with this recipe a bit. Instead of corn meal, I added spelt flour. I used white whole wheat instead of wheat and reduced the egg whites to 1/4 cup (probably 2 egg whites), added 1/4 cup buttermilk. I upped the cinnamon to 1 teaspoon and the chopped nuts to half cup, which I added to the batter, sprinkling a few nuts on top of the batter before baking. I also increased the vanilla to 1 teaspoon. I reduced the brown sugar to 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons. I added 1 tablespoon of honey and one of molasses. Instead of only oat bran, I used a mix of brans--oat, corn and wheat. I eliminated the cinnamon and sugar from the topping, just using the extra nuts. The batter made two small loafs (5 3/4 x 3 inches), plus three muffins.

  2. Another variation: I added 1/4 cup currants to the batter, plus about 1/4 teaspoon grated meyer lemon rind.