This healthy vegan banana bread calls for whole wheat flour, uses heart-healthy coconut oil, and has a minimal amount of sugar. (This article has been updated from its original May 2020 version).
Banana bread is one of those rare treats that’s welcome in almost any situation. A slice with your morning coffee? Yes. Midday desk snack? Definitely yes. After-dinner dessert? Sure! It’s cozy, it’s comforting, it’s easy to eat, and everyone loves it.
Which is why, of course, there are as many banana bread recipes on the internet as there are bakers in the world. What sets this healthy vegan banana bread apart is that it’s better-for-you than most classic recipes, but isn’t so much of a departure that it’s unrecognizable. It’s still rich and moist, still banana-y, and just sweet enough.
What Makes This Banana Bread Healthier
While developing this recipe, I swapped out some of the more expected refined ingredients for healthier alternatives…
- Whole Wheat Flour: This recipe uses whole wheat pastry flour (sometimes labeled “white whole wheat flour”). It’s milled from whole wheat, which keeps the grains’ nutrients intact – unlike all-purpose flour, which is essentially pure starch and contains very little nutrients. WWPF comes from a mild strain of wheat that yields a lighter, less dense flour. It differs from regular whole wheat flour, which is milled from hard red wheat that yields a denser flour with a higher gluten content.
- Minimal Sugar: This recipe uses just 1/3 cup raw sugar for the whole loaf and mostly relies on bananas’ natural sweetness.
- No Dairy: Most banana breads are made with butter (or vegetable oil), milk, buttermilk, or yogurt. This vegan version calls for coconut oil and non-dairy milk.
- No Eggs: Instead of regular eggs, this banana bread uses a mixture of ground flaxseeds and water. This handy trick is known as a “flax egg” in vegan baking because it provides a similar binding power to things like quick breads, muffins, pancakes, etc. Flax is rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Why Use Whole Wheat Flour?
Whole wheat flour is loaded with nutrients – like fiber, protein, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Fiber slows down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, so baked goods made with whole wheat flour don’t spike your blood sugar as much.
How to Make Healthy Vegan Banana Bread
Make the “Flax Eggs”: Stir flaxseed meal with water and set aside while you prep the remaining ingredients. The mixture should thicken and take on a gel-like consistency.
Mix the Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and walnuts (if using).
Mix the Wet Ingredients: In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until smooth. Then add sugar, milk, coconut oil, vanilla, and the flax mixture; whisk to combine.
Mix the Batter and Bake: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold (using a rubber spatula, preferably) just until combined. Be careful not to overmix, which may make the bread tough. Lastly, scrape into a loaf pan greased with coconut oil (to prevent sticking) and bake until golden.
Ingredient Notes + Substitutions
- Baking Powder and Soda: Yes, you do need both. The powder acts as a leavener, helping the banana bread rise. Baking soda, on the other hand, helps it turn golden brown.
- Choosing Bananas: Use bananas with lots of brown spots, if possible, for a moist texture and optimal sweetness.
- Whole Wheat Pastry Flour: If you don’t have it, use a half-and-half mix of all-purpose and regular whole wheat flour.
- Flaxseed Meal: If you prefer to use eggs, sub the flax with 2 large eggs and add them in step 4.
- Coconut Oil: Use virgin coconut oil if you like the flavor of coconut. If you don’t, use refined. You can also sub with avocado oil or organic canola.
More baking inspo…
- Sugar-Free Date Brownies
- Vegan Blueberry-Lemon Muffins
- Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies
- The Easiest Brownies with a Tahini-Miso Swirl
This healthy vegan banana bread calls for whole wheat flour, uses heart-healthy coconut oil, and has a minimal amount of sugar.
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (ground flaxseeds)
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (aka white whole wheat flour)* (see below for substitutions)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, plus more for sprinkling (optional)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 ripe bananas
- 1/3 cup raw sugar (aka turbinado)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened unflavored non-dairy milk
- 1/3 cup melted coconut oil*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a standard loaf pan with coconut oil and set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal with 1/3 cup water, and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients. The mixture should thicken and take on a gel-like consistency.
- In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup walnuts (if using), 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and salt.
- Place 3 bananas in a separate medium bowl and mash with a fork until smooth. Add 1/3 cup each sugar, milk, and oil, and 1 teaspoon vanilla, plus the flaxseed mixture. Stir to combine.
- Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and fold just until combined, being careful not to over-mix. Transfer to the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with walnuts, if using. If you want, slice an additional banana in half lengthwise and press it into the top.
- Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry or with a few crumbs, 55 to 65 minutes.
- Allow to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack or cutting board and cool completely before slicing.
- If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour, use half all-purpose and half regular whole wheat flour – or all all-purpose.
- Use virgin coconut oil if you like the flavor of coconut. If you don’t, use refined coconut oil (it’s neutral).
- Serving Size: 1 slice
- Calories: 270
Keywords: banana bread, vegan, healthy, whole wheat, coconut oil