Shhh Banana Bread

The Recipe: Shhh! This simple banana bread is so good, let's not tell that it's low-fat! And the thing is? No one's going to notice, it's got the right taste, the right texture, the right banana richness, as other recipes with much more fat and many more calories. Weight Watchers friendly!

Shhh Banana Bread ♥, healthy low-fat banana bread, just 1 tablespoon oil and whole wheat flour. Weight Watchers friendly!


"It was delicious!" ~ Maxine

Good banana bread recipes are common but this one is heady with banana and vanilla and more than a little bit good.

And shhh! It’s low fat.

But I promise, no one will guess from the taste.

My dad asks for it special, toasted and unbuttered – and he’s one of those Greatest Generation Guys who slathers butter on most everything.

Most quick breads ("quick" is what we call loaves leavened with baking powder or baking soda not yeast) call for a stick of butter, eight whole tablespoons. This recipe calls for just one tablespoon of the more healthful unsaturated fat in vegetable oil.

The trick to SHHH or any other banana bread is patience, for the bananas must be very, very, VERY ripe.

Even the ripest ones from the grocery store must sit untouched for ten days or more to gather the soft sweetness that imparts banana essence. They’re not baking-ready until they’ve turned brown, almost black, all over.

And here’s a second trick, one I learned just last fall. It takes planning ahead but is then perfect for impatient bakers.

Once in awhile, the grocery sells bags of slightly riper bananas on the cheap. Buy one or two and let the bananas ripen to that brown-almost-black stage. Put them, still in their skins, in freezer bags and freeze. When you feel the urge for banana bread, thaw three or four for an hour, then slip the almost syrupy fruit out of the skins for mixing. More info? Ripe Bananas for Baking: How Ripe Should Bananas Be?

I'm a big believer in fixing on a "one and only" recipe for certain things, banana bread among them. Since I don't bake that often, I want good results every single time! For years, that's meant my very first banana bread recipe. Cheery Cherry Banana Bread goes way back into high school, though I do occasionally branch off, dressing it up for Christmas, say, a la Christmas Banana Bread. I mention this because it's not like me to introduce a second recipe when I've already settled on "my" banana bread recipe. Yet here I am, baking one loaf after another of this simple, unadorned and low-fat banana bread, Shhh Banana Bread.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!


Banana ripening time: 10+ days
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time-to-table: 90 – 120 minutes
Makes 1 standard loaf pan, about 16 slices
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar or brown sugar
  • 3 – 4 very ripe bananas, mashed (350 – 400g)
  • 1/3 cup (80g) buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (94g) whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (my favorite) or cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • Raw sugar, for the top, optional

Preheat the oven to 325F/165C. Spray or butter a standard loaf pan.

#1 UNUSUAL TECHNIQUE Mix the eggs and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low for 5 minutes until the mixture becomes yellow and almost ropey and syrupy. Then thoroughly mix in the bananas, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.

#2 UNORTHODOX SHORTCUT Dump the dry ingredients onto the batter without mixing them in. With a spoon, lightly combine the dry ingredients right on top but still without incorporating into the wet batter. Now use the mixer to combine the dry ingredients and wet batter but just until barely combined. (Too much mixing will create small holes in the bread when it bakes.) Alternatively, the more usual way to mix in the dry ingredients is to stir them together well on their own in a separate bowl, then turn into the wet ingredients.

SPRINKLE WITH SUGAR Turn the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle generously with raw sugar.

BAKE until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn onto a rack to finish cooling.

Slice and serve! And shhh! No sharing our low-fat banana bread secret!

ALANNA's TIPS Shhh Banana Bread announces itself when it's in the oven. It just smells so good! Be careful about using too much banana, there's a sweet spot between "too little" (and thus too little banana flavor and too little natural sweetness) and "too much" (and thus too much moisture and a soggy bread that needs refrigeration and will turn quickly). Because bananas vary so much in size, I've taken to weighing the mashed fruit rather than counting the bananas. Consider the raw sugar on top of the loaf optional but it does provide a nice, crisp top crust and also a surge of sweetness that's noticeable.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Slice, assumes 16 slices, 2 tablespoons raw sugar, 375g banana: 135 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 26mg Cholesterol; 186mg Sodium; 27g Carb; 1g Fiber; 14g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2.5 & PointsPlus 4 & SmartPoints 6 CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = 3/4 slice (2g protein).

More Ripe Bananas?

Triple-Banana Oat Pancakes Banana Nut Cake with Caramel Frosting Banana Oatmeal Cookies
~ more banana recipes ~

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. love the uniquly identifiable inner surface of banana bread!

    Really, no sharing? :)

    Alana, what do you like to use to figure out nutritional content for recipes?


  2. Okay mcauliflower, YOU can share. But no one else, okay? Re: nutrition analysis, I use software called AccuChef. It's a little clunky but I love the import feature, also how easy it is (once you figure it out) to add your own ingredients. I'd be happy to give some tips if you get it -- also I've had good experience w their technical support.

    And on a related note, I definitely recommend analyzing what you cook -- especially beforehand for doing what-ifs, What if I use less butter? cut the cheese in half? reduce the portion size? I've learned SO MUCH, doing this, it's completely changed how I cook.


  3. Thanks- this is right up my geek alley.

    I've been looking at some of the free analyzers online, but their technical help is nonexistent, and their databases seem to be overloaded with brandname products! i understand how that's useful, but to someone like me who doesn't want to know the info on *$ brand granola bar- just wants plain old oatmeal stats, its a bit frustrating to wade through everything.

    I guess that was a suffient side note rant! :)


  4. Maxine9/06/2012

    It was delicious! I used the whole wheat flour and turbinado sugar (less than recommended). I didn't have walnuts or pecans so I added almonds. From another recipe, I saw that they added bourbon so I used about 1 tablespoon.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna