Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread

An easy recipe for healthy, clean-eating banana bread studded with fresh tangy berries.
Perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack!

 

Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread -- an easy recipe for a skinny, clean-eating treat!

 

My mom, brother and I skipped our Christmas dinner last week to fly to Arizona. After lugging our duffels through the terminal and renting a plum Kia Sorento, we cruised south for an hour before pulling into the hospital parking lot. Mom’s parents always spent the holiday at our house, but with Grandma hooked up to IVs throughout the entire fall, we brought the presents (and tree!) to her bedside instead this year.  

 

After exchanging hellos and taking turns tearing tissue paper out of gift bags, we left Grandma to rest and stopped by Walgreens—the only store open on Christmas night—to grab frozen entrées and Greek yogurt for a late smorgasbord dinner. Bags in tow, we drove a few miles down the road to meet Grandpa at their house.

 

Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread -- an easy recipe for a skinny, clean-eating treat!

 

Despite 6 years elapsing since my last visit, the familiar scent of birdseed and bread, red dirt and yesterday’s coffee filled my nose upon opening the front door. We passed over the same adobe-colored family room tile floor to the spacious kitchen to snack and talk before falling asleep. As I wove back to the guest bedroom, a new stiff-springed mattress greeted me instead of the squishy waterbed from the past, but I gratefully collapsed and barely budged until the next morning.

 

Upon rising and walking to the main part of the house, empty rooms and a countertop packed with prescription meds greeted me. Not Grandma, resting in a cushy chair and staring out at the birdbath nestled in their Astroturf backyard over a steaming mug of tea. It felt different—really different—until we sped back to the hospital and found Grandma in the exercise room with the PT nurse.

 

Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread -- an easy recipe for a skinny, clean-eating treat!

 

I sidled over to where she sat perched atop a reclining elliptical trainer and began chatting like we used to, nibbling on oversized pieces of Grandpa’s famous coffee cake or her Christmas fruitcake at the breakfast table. She peddled slower than the Tortoise, distracted by my mindless gabbing, while I babbled on faster than the Hare. By the time I paused for a breath of air, we realized that she had ridden much longer than the nurse originally required!

 

Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread -- an easy recipe for a skinny, clean-eating treat!

 

Once the sun disappeared behind the desert landscape, we checked Grandma out of the hospital like a library book and carefully tucked her into the front seat of Mom’s rental car. We meandered up and down the neighborhood streets, mesmerized by the twinkling Christmas lights. As she softly uttered her favorite expressions—“Oh my!” and “Oh goodness!”—my brother, Grandpa, and I pointed out the dazzling displays at upcoming homes like tour guides squashed in the backseat.

 

Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread -- an easy recipe for a skinny, clean-eating treat!

 

Just like our visit, this Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread tastes familiar and comforting, with a few little bursts of flavorful surprises. Its natural sweetness, coupled with a bright tartness from the cranberries, draws you in bite after bite. And nobody can resist those pretty pops of red!

 

Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread -- an easy recipe for a skinny, clean-eating treat!

 

Although most banana bread recipes require all-purpose flour, I opted for whole wheat flour instead. It adds a subtle nutty undertone, and with its healthy and clean-eating benefits, it turns this banana bread into the perfect treat for New Years Resolutions!

 

When developing recipes for 100% whole wheat baked goods, I almost exclusively choose Gold Medal whole wheat flour. Other brands leave my loaves dense and dry, but Gold Medal flour actually gives the banana bread a light and airy texture. (No, this isn’t a sponsored post; I just really like Gold Medal whole wheat flour!) If using another brand, I recommend swapping out about 2-4 tablespoons of the whole wheat flour for all-purpose.

 

Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread -- an easy recipe for a skinny, clean-eating treat!

 

The mashed banana naturally sweetens and moistens the loaf without lots of added sugar or fat. The browner the bananas, the better! As the fruit ripens, it breaks down its starches into sugar, which makes them sweeter. If your bananas sport lots of dark brown spots, you’ll only need a tiny squirt of honey. I also mixed in a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt for extra moisture (and a teensy bit more protein too).

 

Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread -- an easy recipe for a skinny, clean-eating treat!

 

Fresh cranberries contribute a bright tang to this sweet banana bread. Try not to skip them! But if you can’t find fresh, you can still rehydrate dried cranberries instead. The loaf will taste a little sweeter since most companies add a sprinkle of sugar to the berries as they dry, so adjust the amount of honey accordingly.

 

Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread -- an easy recipe for a skinny, clean-eating treat!

 

I baked this low-fat banana bread in an 8” x 4” loaf pan. I think it looks prettier when tall and skinny, but you could spread the batter into a 9” x 5” loaf pan instead. The bread will bake faster with more surface area, so start checking it about 5-10 minutes before the time written in the recipe.

 

Like many other banana breads, this one tastes even better on the next day. It develops that soft, thin sugary film on top—my favorite part!—while the fruity flavors meld and intensify. Due to delays at the doctors’ office, I (impatiently) let this loaf sit for two whole days before photographing and sampling.

 

Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread -- an easy recipe for a skinny, clean-eating treat!

 

As I sliced into the banana bread, I smiled at the small chunks of beautiful red berries. Their natural tang paired perfectly with the sweetness of the bananas and honey, while the whole wheat flavor and tender crumb still felt comforting and homey—absolutely ideal for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

 

And I did just that. I savored a slice with breakfast, another after lunch, and two more as a post-dinner dessert. Yes, I polished off half of the loaf by myself in a single day! With the rate I buy bananas, I foresee many more rounds of this Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread in my future… Including one or two to mail to Grandma once the doctor lets her eat real food again!

 

Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread -- an easy recipe for a skinny, clean-eating treat!

 

Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread

Yield: 1 loaf, 8 slices

Serving Size: 1 slice

Whole Wheat Cranberry Banana Bread

This banana bread is naturally sweetened, with the perfect about of tart tang from fresh cranberries. It tastes even better on the second day, if you can wait that long for the flavors to meld! Store the loaf wrapped in plastic wrap, foil, or an airtight container for up to 4 or 5 days.

1 ¼ c whole wheat flour (measured correctly)
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp oil or butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ c + 2 tbsp mashed banana (about 1 extra long 9” banana)
2 tbsp plain nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tbsp honey
1/3 c chopped cranberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and coat an 8x4” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil (or butter), egg, and vanilla. Stir in the mashed banana, yogurt, and honey. Add in the flour mixture, and stir just until incorporated. Gently fold in the cranberries.
  3. Spread the batter into the prepared pan, and bake at 325°F for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Note: For 100% whole wheat baked goods, I prefer Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flour. It has a higher gluten content than other whole wheat flours, which allows this bread to rise better, turning out lighter and not as dense as other brands. If using another brand, I suggest substituting 2-4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour for some of the whole wheat.

Dried cranberries may be substituted for the fresh. Add them to a microwave-safe bowl, cover with water, and tightly top with plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH for 45-60 seconds, and let the bowl to sit for another 20-30 minutes to allow the dried berries to continue absorbing liquid. Discard any remaining water, and continue with the original recipe.

A 9x5” loaf pan may be used instead. The bread will bake faster with more surface area, so begin checking for doneness around 25-30 minutes.

© Amys Healthy Baking. Recipe and all images protected. Please obtain my written permission before using images. If republishing this recipe, please rewrite it in your own words or link back to this post.
http://amyshealthybaking.com/blog/2013/12/30/whole-wheat-cranberry-banana-bread/

View Nutrition Information

 

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Comments

  1. Hari Chandana says on December 31, 2013 at 5:04 am

    Very well explained.. thanks for sharing :)

    • Amy says on December 31, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      My pleasure Hari! :)

  2. simple green moms says on December 31, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Wow this looks so good and surprisingly easy to make! Thanks for sharing =)

    • Amy says on December 31, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      Thank you, you’re so sweet! I love easy recipes, especially ones that taste absolutely amazing and have very few dishes to wash! ;)

  3. Brittany says on December 31, 2013 at 6:34 am

    I am so glad you were able to get your grandma out and look at the lights, what a great story. I don’t know HOW you let this bread sit for so long without diving in though!! AMAZING, must be like my ability to stay away from sweets all that time!

    • Amy says on December 31, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks Brittany! I still think you have more willpower than me… I wrapped the bread in tin foil (so I couldn’t see it and be tempted!) and baked cookies in the meantime to give me something else sweet to eat. I have such an uncontrollable sweet tooth!

  4. Katy says on December 31, 2013 at 7:55 am

    This looks delicious! Cranberries are one of my favorite fruit so I can definitely see this bread becoming a favorite. Your website is definitely my new go-to for healthy baking. :) I am so excited I found it!

    • Amy says on December 31, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      Thank you Katy; your comment means the world to me! I’m so happy you’re enjoying my recipes. :) I tend to forget about cranberries until their season is almost over, but that’s definitely not going to happen next year!

  5. Andrea says on December 31, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    What a great recipe! I love recipes that call for little to no sugar and instead rely on the natural sweetness of fruit. Tart cranberries are my favorite. Win-win-win.

    • Amy says on December 31, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      Thanks Andrea! The tart cranberries provided such an amazing flavor contrast. I saved the bites with the biggest berry chunks for last!

  6. Maddy says on June 21, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Just made this and i’ve found my new favourite banana bread recipe! The bread is a perfect texture and tastes so sweet without a lot of added sugar. another success from your blog, thanks!

    • Amy says on June 21, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      I’m so happy you enjoyed my banana bread Maddy! Your sweet comment means a lot to me. :) I’m excited to hear what other recipes you try too!

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