Jan 10, 2013

Healthy Banana Muffins

Bananas are readily available in West Africa where I grew up and so banana bread or muffins were often on the menu. In Africa bananas are allowed to ripen on the stalk and are SO much more flavorful than the bananas you can get in the United States. There are also many different varieties. The most common kind is a little smaller in size than our Costa Rican banana. There are several kinds of finger bananas and even a chubby red-pealed banana. All with great flavor, but the tiny finger bananas are of-the-charts sweet and bursting with flavor!

Liberian boy standing under banana trees. My photo.
Liberians also make their own version of banana bread which I LOVE. I'll be sharing that recipe on the blog as well. Speaking of Liberians, isn't this guy a cutie?

My photo.
I prefer bananas in things: breads, snacks, fruit salads, etc, but am not a huge fan of eating them by themselves. Thus coming up with a nutritious and delicious banana muffin recipe was one of the first items on my agenda when I began my journey to eating healthier food.

For years I searched for a healthy banana muffin recipe that actually tasted good. It was a long and hard quest, with my husband suffering the consequences of dry, dense muffins as I tried less sugar, more whole-wheat flour, and experiment after experiment. Then alas, one day I stumbled upon this recipe for banana bread, and with a few adjustments I realized I'd found that elusive healthy banana muffin recipe! Even my husband likes them!

You seriously cannot tell they are good for you. 

A few notes about the recipe:

This recipe has taken me awhile to post because I wanted to experiment with using all sorts of flour and liquid options. If you have ripe bananas in your house, you'd be hard-pressed to not have any of the other ingredients!

For those looking for gluten-free options, I've made these successfully with buckwheat flour. I also have a great Paleo version that uses coconut flour, which I posted a few weeks ago. Spelt flour has a very low gluten content and is usually well tolerated by people with gluten sensitivities, though not those with celiac.

I did make these once with honey. To keep the recipe from being too cluttered, I'll share the adjustments for liquid sweetener here: In place of the whole cane sugar, use 1/4 to 1/3 cup honey or real maple syrup. Reduce the yogurt to 1/3 cup, or the milk to 1/4 cup.

This recipe can be dairy-free by using coconut oil and the milk substitute of your choice.

Healthy Banana Muffins

1/3 cup coconut oil or 1/2 cup butter, softened or melted
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup whole cane sugar or regular sugar (I usually use 1/3 cup)*
1 egg

2 large very ripe bananas or three completely brown bananas*
1/2 cup yogurt, greek yogurt or sour cream, or 1/3 cup coconut milk, rice milk, nut milk, or dairy milk**
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whole-wheat, spelt, or buckwheat flour
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt (use the lesser amount if using salted butter)
1 teaspoon baking soda**
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, optional

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium sized mixing bowl blend together the first three ingrediants. Make sure coconut oil or butter is mixed in very well with the egg and sugar so their are no cold lumps of fat that form when the other ingredients are added. (I use a hand mixer.) Stir in the bananas, yogurt or milk, and the vanilla. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the batter and stir just until there are no dry lumps. I always make sure the baking soda and powder have no lumps by rubbing them between my fingers or sprinkling them through a small sieve. (I experienced trauma in early childhood after biting into one too many lumps of baking soda in my banana bread!)

Distribute evenly into 12 muffin liners or a muffin tin greased with coconut oil. They may seem full, but it will all fit! Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until the tops start to brown.

* Go with less sugar if using three completely black bananas. 1/4 cup is plenty.

** If using regular milk or milk substitute, replace the one teaspoon baking soda with one teaspoon additional baking powder.

Preparation time: 15 minutes. Bake time: 20 minutes. Servings: 12.


  1. Hi Melodie,
    This is a beautiful post with awesome photos. Your Banana Muffins look delicious. Thank you so much for celebrating TWO YEARS with FULL PLATE THURSDAY, I appreciate your visit!
    Come Back Soon
    Miz Helen
    A New Follower

    1. Thanks for your comment, Miz Helen and congrats on two years :-).