The easiest way to make your baking healthier + ‘paleo’ banana bread

A few months ago I wrote about my adventures in guilt-free baking and shared the recipe for my ‘paleo’ brownies.

Since then I’ve had plenty of opportunity to explore the world of sugar-free baking. While there have been a few typical baking experimentation disasters, I’ve been super excited about the results.

What is the easiest way to make your baking healthier?

It’s easy. Just replace the sugar in your favourite recipe with a good quality natural sweetener. The trick is finding the right natural sweetener.

What’s the best natural sweetener?

I’ve had the most success with a blend of both erythritol AND stevia.

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol which provides the physical properties of sugar. But it isn’t as sweet.

Stevia is an extract from herbs which is much sweeter than sugar so it provides the sweetening. The thing to note with stevia is that a little goes a long way.

How much should you use?

The ideal amount will vary from recipe to recipe. I’ve had the most success by replacing half the sugar by weight with an erythritol / stevia blend.

For example in the banana bread recipe below, I’d use 200g (7oz) sugar OR 100g (3.5oz) erythritol / stevia blend.

Where can I find an Eythrtiol / Stevia blend?

There are three different options…

1. Your local supermarket or health food store

Check the ingredients list to make sure it contains erythritol AND stevia. I’ve been using ‘Natvia’ brand and have also heard good things about ‘Truvia’.

2. Online

Let your favourite search engine do the work!

3. Make your own
This is the most cost effective option. Just buy erythritol and stevia separately either online or off. Then combine 180g (6 1/3oz or 1cup) erythritol with 1/2 teaspoon stevia (Thanks to Jenna for the link to Healthy Indulgences for the inspiration for a DIY option).

The downside?

In a word cost. With sugar so cheap, stevia / erythritol blends are super expensive by comparison.

But remember you’ll only be using half as much so it’s not as drastic as you’d first think. And I like to think about the longer term savings to my health.

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Looking for more sugar-free baking recipes?

If you’re looking for ways to make your baking a little healthier, I highly recommend having a look at ‘Guilt-Free Desserts‘ by Kelley Herring.

paleo banana bread-4

‘paleo’ banana bread
makes about 8 slices

Adapted from the ‘banana and walnut muffins’ in Guilt-Free Desserts by Kelley Herring.

This banana ‘bread’ is super moist and really more at the cake end of the spectrum – but don’t let that stop you having a slice toasted with fresh ricotta for breakfast.

The brand of natural sweetener I’ve been using is called ‘Natvia’ and it’s actually a blend of stevia and erythritol. If you can’t find it you could use plain erythritol and a few drops of liquid stevia. But if you can’t find any of those, best to just use sugar – see variations below.

2 bananas
150g (5oz) butter, melted
6 eggs
100g (3.5oz) erythtirol / stevia blend
65g (2.25oz) coconut flour + 1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line a small loaf pan with baking paper.

2. Peel and mash bananas. Combine with butter, eggs and the erythtirol / stevia blend.

3. Whisk in the coconut flour and baking powder. Transfer to your prepared load pan.

4. Bake for 40 minutes or until the ‘bread’ is well browned and feels firm and springy.

VARIATIONS
real sugar – replace stevia / erythritol blend with 200g (7oz) brown or white sugar.

dairy-free – replace butter with a neutral flavoured oil. Macadamia oil is great if you can find it.

egg-free / vegan – Sorry! I’m afraid you really need the eggs to provide protein not available in coconut flour.

can’t find coconut flour? – I haven’t tried this, but if I was going to use regular wheat flour I’d reduce the eggs to 3 and use 250g (9oz) plain flour or almond meal instead of the coconut flour.

nuts! – feel free to add in a few handfuls of roasted walnuts, pecans or brazil nuts.

video version of the recipes

With love,
Jules x

ps. The links to ‘Guilt-Free Desserts‘ are affiliate links so if you do decide to purchase, I get a commission so you’ll be supporting Stonesoup too!Guilt_Free_Desserts_Banner_B

Fast and Easy Paleo Recipes

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{ 12 comments }

Polly September 27, 2012 at 8:56 am

I’m starting on my paleo adventure and am planning on experimenting on this banana bread. (Made the coconut one). I noticed this recipe uses butter while most others online do not. Just curious as to what effect butter has on bread vs. not using. (Not worried about the fat). Thanks.

jules November 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I like the flavour of butter more Polly… oil will work too

Monique September 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Thanks Jules, just happen to have a couple of overripe bananas! Kids might like this one!

jules November 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Great Monique!

heartlandroad September 28, 2012 at 7:02 am

Can you explain to me the benefit of using erithrytol instead of sugar?

I can understand the logic behind reducing the use of sugar, but replacing it with an alcohol is an approach I’ve never heard of, and it seems strange – I’ve never heard of erithrytol, but I know ethanol (drinking alcohol) is very calorific, more so than sugar, and is metabolised very quickly, playing merry hell with blood sugar and insulin levels in the process. Is this true of other alcohols, and if so, what’s the advantage?

Stella September 29, 2012 at 2:22 am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erythritol
“It is 60–70% sweeter than table sugar yet it is almost noncaloric, does not affect blood sugar, does not cause tooth decay [...]. It is less likely to cause gastric side effects than other sugar alcohols due to its unique digestion pathway.”

pepa October 1, 2012 at 3:02 am

Me encanta este sitio. Lo que ocurre es que no entiendo nada.

Elaine October 2, 2012 at 9:14 am

I made this receipe exactly as stated over the weekend and it is fantastic. I will certainly be making it again. I might even be able to get the husband to eat it, providing I tell him it has something other than bananas of course!!!

jules November 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Great Elaine!

Kitty December 19, 2012 at 1:48 am

you might try pumpkin instead of bananas. and here in the US either banana bread or pumpkin bread are often made with sweet spices so that could make a nice variant.

Lex December 9, 2012 at 4:11 am

Is it possible to use honey instead of stevia?

Kitty December 19, 2012 at 1:51 am

Lex, anything is POSSIBLE. LOL Honey is sweeter than sugar so take the sugar measurement by volume and use between half or up to 2/3 of that amount in honey. Honey is also liquid so you might need one less egg, or a bit more flour.
Hope this helps.

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