Now that the weather has gotten seasonal, you may find yourself indoors more often. If you are still venturing outside for work or play, chances are your appetite has revved up, and you may be getting cravings not just for food in general but for tasty treats as well. There is nothing wrong with this, in my opinion, if the ingredients are quality. The best way to know if your sweet treat or dessert is a quality food is by making it yourself. You will have complete control of what goes in it and the satisfaction of knowing that you are still nourishing yourself.

Let’s take banana bread as an example. What we normally find in a commercially prepared product is less than ideal: White wheat flour and sugar — sometimes corn syrup — are often key players. If you have been reading my articles for a while, you know that these are two foods best avoided. They are highly processed, devoid of nutrients, can take you on a blood sugar roller coaster and can lead to over consumption and all the problems that arise as a result. Then there is the fat. Fat is not inherently unhealthy, but the type of fat matters. One fat commonly seen in commercial products is vegetable oil: canola, soybean, safflower, “vegetable oil,” etc. These industrial seed oils may be processed with harmful chemicals, can go rancid quickly, and are high in omega-6 fats. While fats are essential, unhealthy sources can lead to inflammation if over consumed, as is common in the Standard American Diet (SAD). The other ingredients in prepared products, such as bananas, spices, eggs and leavening, are not usually an issue.

To improve on a commercial banana bread recipe, there are several things to do. One, replace the white flour with a healthier alternative. A personal favorite is coconut flour, which is rich in fiber and contains a good amount of protein. It also tends to add a sponginess to recipes not usually found in other gluten-free flours. Nut flours are another option, but not one I use here. Ripe bananas add most of the sweetness to the recipe — no need for cups of sugar or corn syrup. Just two tablespoons of maple syrup add a hint of extra sweetness, if desired. Pastured butter and organic coconut oil are good options for fat. They hold up better to higher temperatures. Extra-virgin olive oil could be a good alternative as well. It is high in healthy monounsaturated fats and can taste good in both savory and sweet baked goods.

For extra nutrition, add in chia seeds. They are high in fiber and contain protein as well. Fiber is important for satiety, to feed gut microbiota, and for healthy digestive function. Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fats, but can have some side effects that I will go into in another article. Protein powder is also added, which helps with satiety as well as fulfilling our protein needs throughout the day. A grated carrot is added for flavor, texture, phytonutrients, and of course more fiber.

Is this recipe a superfood? No. Is it suitable for everyone? No. Some people are very sensitive to carbohydrates, and this is not a low-carbohydrate food. We are all unique individuals with different needs. But the following recipe is what I would call a healthier treat for most people.

G R A I N - F R E E   B A N A N A   B R E A D

1⁄2 cup coconut flour
1⁄2 cup arrowroot powder or tapioca starch
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1⁄2 tsp. cardamom (optional)
5 Tbsp. protein powder of choice
2 Tbsp. ground chia seeds
1 tsp. vanilla
1⁄4 cup melted pastured butter or unrefined coconut oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)
2 pastured eggs, whisked
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup water
2 Tbsp. maple syrup (optional)
1⁄2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan with butter or coconut oil.

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.

3. Add all wet ingredients together, starting with 1⁄4 cup water.

4. Combine wet and dry ingredients.

5. If batter seems too dry, add water slowly until consistency is similar to quick bread batter (not too dry, but not too wet).

6. Pour into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake 30 to 45 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle comes out (mostly) clean. (This bread will be more dense and moist than a traditional wheat-based loaf, so it will not look or feel completely “dry” inside. That is okay and will not affect the flavor at all.)

The information provided in this article is intended for general use only and is not to be used in place of medical advice from a licensed health professional.