February 26, 2009

Seriously Healthy Banana Muffins

To my ladies at work: I apologize, I intended to bring in a loaf of this bread for everyone to enjoy at the office. But, I just liked it too much, and decided to pretty much keep it all for myself!

I had been craving pumpkin bread on a whim before Christmas and true to form, wanted to find a way to squeeze as many calories out of a recipe as possible. I started out by googling a low-fat version just to see what tricks they had for making the bread healthier. After remembering some good tricks like substituting applesauce for oil, and after some experimenting with sugar/splenda blends and light butter, I ended up with my own little recipe which turned out divine. So this time when I wanted to make some banana bread to take advantage of some ripe bananas I had, I decided to do the same - making these same tweaks to this recipe I found on RecipeZaar.

So enjoy this version below based on some of my suggestions and the great ideas I found in the comments to the recipe on Recipe Zaar. Also, this supposedly makes two loaves, but they were awfully skimpy when I did it, so I think I would take the advice found in the comments to make muffins instead (plus this makes it easier to control portions!)

  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup blend of regular sugar and splenda, equal parts.
  • 2 tablespoons light butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons applesauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Some things to keep in mind...
  • Make it healthier by making substitues for the flour... some people substitute half a cup of wheat flour, or half a cup of oats, or both - oats would be good in the muffin version!
  • Not every "light butter" is the same... Land O Lakes light butter is 1/3 of the fat and calories of regular - and I can never taste a difference! I picked up a package of another brand of "light" butter that was only half the fat - Land O Lakes definitely won that contest!
  • Always add salt... I was surprised when this recipe didn't call for salt at first, so I made sure to add about 1/4 of a teaspoon. salt really brings out the flavors in food, sweet or savory.
  • This recipe is very sweet... Some of the comments mentioned cutting down the sugar blend to about 3/4 of a cup. This makes a lot of sense especially if you're using sweetened applesauce for the butter substitute. (I personally bought sweetened because I knew if I had to buy a whole jar, I would want to eat sweetened applesauce as a snack.) Not to mention that ripened bananas are deliciously sweet on their own!
There's really nothing stopping you from just dumping all the ingredients in a bowl, mixing it all together, and then pouring it in the greased pans to bake, but I really think following these directions will make the end product just a little better. So here you go:
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cream sugar with butter (this helps to get all the butter blended smoothly!)
  3. Add egg, and beat lightly to get the mixture to fluff up a little.
  4. Add the 4 bananas, already smashed up in a separate bowl (a pastry fork works really well for mashing and mixing the bananas if you don't feel like busting out the mixer)
  5. Add the vanilla, and applesauce.
  6. Then add all the remaining dry ingredients and mix well.
  7. Pour mixture into pan sprayed with cooking spray so they don't stick! (Either 2 loaf pans, or a 12-cup muffin pan)
  8. Bake for around 50 minutes, probably less for muffins, but keep an eye on them either way. You'll be able to tell it's all ready when the color is good and golden brown, or when a knife comes out clean from the center.
  9. Remove muffins or loaves from pans to cool on a rack.
Because this has artificial sweetener in it, I can just tell you that it taste's so much better - like many things you bake - once it's cooled for a bit, so if you can resist, wait to taste for about 10-15 minutes!

When I made this recipe with the 2 Tbsp of butter, and full 1.5 cup of flour and 1 cup splenda / sugar blend, the whole batch had 30 weight watchers points - making 1/5 of each loaf about 3 points. I'm going to experiment soon with the muffins, using less butter and substituting 1/2 cup of oats for 1/2 cup of the flour - which I think can make these bad boys about 2 points per muffin!


  1. I tried these today and they were delicious. They received the families approval. I used 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of oats. I also only used 1/2 cup sugar (My body doesn't tolerate artificial sweeteners). They were sweet enough. I used cinnamon applesauce which added a nice flavor. I also used stick margarine (we have dairy allergies in the family). I figured out the weight watcher points. They were 29 points for the batch and each muffin was about 2.5 points. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. These are phenomenal!! I made the muffins tonight and I confess that I ate one almost right as it came out of the oven. Delish! I baked them for 25 minutes and the knife came out clean. They are super moist. I can't wait for my two year-olds to try them in the morning.

  3. Splenda is not healthy!

    1. I second that! It's cancer in a packet.

  4. You can substitute the sugar/splenda with 1 cup of honey or 2/3 cup of agave nectar.

  5. After reading that some thought the recipe was too sweet, I only put 1/2 cup of Agave nectar in my batch, because Agave is really sweet. I think the muffins turned out real good. I also substituted 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour in the place of the 1 1/2 cups of regular all purpose flour. There are so many ways to incorporate things that aren't stripped of their nutrients.

  6. I don't have apple sauce, what can i substitute it with?

  7. Delicious recipe! Used whole wheat pastry flour and a half a cup of brown sugar and put fresh blueberries on top of the muffins before placing in the oven. Delish!

  8. And cook muffins for 20 minutes.

  9. Skip the splenda (Cancer Causing artificial sweetner) and just use half a cup of sugar and add an extra banana and they are the perfect little snack!

  10. I'm lazy and like to simplify so I used

    1 C SR flour
    1 C ground oats
    4 mashed bananas
    1/2 cup sugar
    3 T low fat spread
    1 Tsp vanilla
    1 egg

    I dumped it all in a bowl and mixed with a fork until just combined.
    This made 18 sml muffins that cooked for 17 min.
    They were nice and moist but far too sweet even with 1/2 the sugar. Maybe because my bananas were so ripe. Next time less sugar but I will definitely make these again.

  11. Ooops meant to say 1/2 C oats (would be a bit dry)

  12. These were very tasty! I substituted 1/2 c of old fashioned oats for some of the flour, and added some chopped walnuts. I baked them in muffin form. They only take 25-30 minutes this way!

  13. I made these yesterday, very good. I ended up making 12 muffins and had some batter leftover. I think if I had done 24 muffins, they would be tiny. These came out well. I baked for 30 min, and could easily do 25 the next time.

    I also substituted 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, then used 1/2 all-purpose. I also used 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup blue agave syrup.

  14. I just made these- but only had two bananas so I substituted a lot. These were very good though. I would definitely cut WAY down on the sugar. Way down. I used the proposed amount, but should have cut it in half at least. I also didn't have apple sauce- but had apple butter, so I used that instead. I also substituted some flour for oats. I will be making these again- my husband loved them as well.

  15. I just made this in muffin form, used half the sugar and substituted the plain flour for whole wheat flour. With a little dusting of cinnamon, they're the perfect little treat!

  16. Healthie Foodie... you should either change the name of your website or thoroughly re-examine your recipes!!! This is so unhealthy in several ways... the flour should be unbleached and organic.... the sugar/splenda will kill you and should be replace with RAW honey... light butter should be real and organic. Things labeled LIGHT are generally cancer causing and very unhealthy!

    1. chill out, crazy. this lady's just sharing a recipe. really no need to attack her.

  17. you could use 4 tbs. of applesauce and no butter at all. Fruit purees are way better than butter in all senses. any fruit puree, doesnt have to be apple, it could be pears, or something else light and sweet. Also, just do 1/3 c. agave, and no other sugars.