Last week I got a little overzealous at Whole Foods and bought an arsenal of organic bananas for my morning smoothies. However, my mornings did not go as planned and I ended up with some dangerously ripe extras on my hands– thus, some banana bread had to be made! However, I really did not want to take some perfectly healthy fruit and screw it up with a ton of refined sugar so I pulled out a recipe I have had success with before by Christine Frazier from the No Meat Athlete . I love this recipe! Yummy, moist banana bread with coconut confetti that does not make me feel like I just ate a brick– yes please!
One thing that makes this recipe unique is that is is sweetened with stevia. Stevia is a 0 calorie sweetener extracted from a plant and it is natural (unlike some of the other calorie free sweeteners that have been sparking controversy lately). Japan is currently the top consumer of stevia and has been using the stuff forever (even Coca-Cola uses it over there) — it is currently approved as a dietary supplement in the US.
I think Stevia evokes the same mixed reactions as non-caloric sweeteners such as Splenda. Some people dislike the taste, detect bitterness etc. Since stevia is a way to incorporate some natural, calorie free sweetness into my life– these are ways I have found to make it bearable:
1) Find Your Brand
Not all brands of stevia are created equal– therefore you may have to shop around a little. Some brands are better suited to baking while others are better for stirring into your tea or coffee. Scour online reviews and see what people have to say. I have had a lot of luck with NuNaturals .
2) Enhancement not Flavoring
If you are trying to sweeten a latte or smoothie– stevia is great. If you are sweetening a recipe that already has some naturally sweet ingredients (like ripe bananas) stevia works wonderfully as an enhancement. However, if you are trying to make a key lime pie that relies on intense sweetness, stevia may not be your best bet. These are recipes where you may want to look for other options (agave, palm sugar, coconut nectar etc.) or go half and half with stevia and another sweetener.
3) Stay as Close to the Source as Possible
I feel that a soon as you bring food into labs– things seem to go pear shaped. As stevia is gaining popularity, it is being refined, altered etc. I try to stick with the organic brands that do as little futzing with the stuff as possible.
Check out Christine’s recipe and some tips for baking with stevia here. Thanks for helping the baking novices like me Christine!
Since I cannot seem to leave a recipe alone– these are the changes I made:
Flour: I used sprouted wheat flour instead of the whole wheat pastry flour. Learn more about sprouted flour here.
Stevia: I used a teaspoon of NuNaturals liquid extract (and did not detect an aftertaste in the finished product).
Coconut milk swap: I used organic unsweetened almond milk in place of the coconut milk– simply because it was what I had in house. The coconut milk would have been awesome, but I was also happy to shave off a few calories.