When I was in Oxford several years ago, I used to bake banana bread at least once a week. The delicious smells of banana and cinnamon would float through the hall and down the stairs, summoning the boys on the floor below and the girls on my floor to gather in our third-floor kitchen. There we would talk and enjoy each other's company as we satisfied ourselves with warm slices of the sweet, moist bread on those chilly autumn afternoons.
Since one of those housemates is in town this week from NYC, she asked me to make some banana bread for her. I know she's up for trying new things, so I decided to play with this recipe and make this banana bread extra special for her. I used a combination of spelt and whole wheat flours for all their healthy goodness, and I mixed in a little bit of teff and blackstrap molasses to add a mild earthy flavor with a subtly nuttiness. I balanced those flavors with a zing of orange zest and warming spices, and then I sweetened the whole thing with agave nectar and brown rice syrup. I divided the batter between four mini-loaf pans and topped each one with a different flavor that I thought would compliment the other flavors nicely. The result was a delicious, moist bread, packed with nutrition and flavor.
shredded coconut, sliced almonds, chocolate chipsDon't be intimidated by the long ingredient list; you probably have most of the spices in your pantry, and if not, you can substitute with extra cinnamon or add some allspice. The teff flour may be more difficult to find, and although you can substitute whole wheat, spelt, or some other flour in its place, it really is worth the extra effort to get your hands on some teff. I was able to find it at Whole Foods, or you can order online here. Teff gives a unique sweet fragrance and nutty flavor, and it is one of the most nutrient-dense grains, so give it a try!
Spiced Orange Banana Bread:
makes 4 mini (5.5" x 3") loaves
105 g (1 cup) whole spelt flour
85 g (1/2 cup) whole wheat flour
40 g (1/4 cup) whole teff flour
3/4 cup agave
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil (gently warmed, if necessary, until in liquid form)
1/4 cup nondairy milk, if necessary
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
crushed pistachios, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, sliced almonds to sprinkle on top
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 4 mini (5.5" x 3") or 2 regular (8" x 4") loaf pans.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. In another bowl, mix together wet ingredients (except for milk). Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. The consistency should be like a smoothie. If it is too dry, add some of the nondairy milk until it is wet enough.
3. Pour batter into pans and sprinkle with desired toppings. I used crushed pistachios, chocolate chips, shredded coconut and sliced almonds. I think crystalized ginger would also be delicious.
4. Bake for 30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. They may appear a little darker in color than typical banana bread because of the teff and molasses, so don't take them out too soon.
About the nutrition of this recipe:
- Teff has a very high calcium content, and contains high levels of phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminum, barium, and thiamin. It is considered to have an excellent amino acid composition, with lysine levels higher than wheat or barley. Teff is high in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber.
- Spelt Flour is made from the spelt grain, which is a good source of protein, fiber and vitamin B3. Although some of these nutrients are lost as the grain is processed into a flour, using whole spelt flour ensures that you are still retaining much more of those nutrients than if you were using a more refined flour.
- Blackstrap Molasses is the most nutrient-dense (and also the least sweet) type of molasses. Just 2 teaspoons contains about 18% the RDA of manganese, 15% the RDA of iron, plus copper, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B6)
- Virgin Coconut Oil has received a lot of press in the past decade. Make sure to select one that is free from trans fats. Coconut oil does contain saturated fat (in fact, it is mostly saturated fat), but studies have shown that plant-based saturated fats are an important part of our health and they may reduce the risk of certain cancers, strengthen the immune system, increase metabolism, and actually lower cholesterol. For more information, start here.
- Agave is an all-natural sweetener that is low on the glycemic index, so it won't make your blood sugar spike as easily.
- Brown Rice Syrup contains complex carbohydrates from brown rice and sprouted brown rice or barley, which also help inhibit dramatic shifts in blood sugar levels, and is much better than using refined sugar.
per mini loaf
calories: 704, fat: 15.5 g, carbs: 137 g, sugar: 85 g, fiber: 11 g, protein: 8 g, iron: 19%
per 1/4 of a mini loaf
calories: 176, fat: 4 g, carbs: 34 g, sugar: 21 g, fiber: 3 g, protein: 2 g, iron: 5%
Nutrition information is based on information provided by Bob's Red Mill Whole Spelt Flour, Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Teff Flour, Almond Dream Unriched Unsweetened Enriched Almond Milk, Plantation Unsulphered Blackstrap Molasses, Madhava Organic Amber Agave Nectar, Lundberg Sweet Dreams Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Spectrum Organic Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil.