Banana bread has a natural sweetness and moisture that comes from the mashed ripe fruit. Usually, that sweetness is only enriched with added sugar and yogurt or sour cream, but tossing in some fresh rhubarb adds a note of tartness to the loaf and a pop of color as well.
Rhubarb banana bread isn’t inherently healthy even though it contains a generous amount of fresh, natural ingredients. A traditional quick bread recipe is heavy on butter or oil, sugar, eggs and full-fat yogurt or sour cream, all of which make the flavor richer and enhance texture but add plenty of calories and fat. To reduce or substitute for some of those ingredients can mean sacrificing taste or moisture in the finished bread, so it helps to follow a tried and true healthy recipe or begin by making only minor adjustments to a classic version.
For one loaf of rhubarb banana bread that serves 16, you’ll need two mashed bananas, 1/3 cup of nonfat yogurt, 5 tbsp. of melted butter, two eggs, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup of ground flaxseed, 3/4 tsp. of baking soda, 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon, 1 1/2 cups of chopped rhubarb and cooking spray to coat the loaf pan. In one bowl, beat the bananas, yogurt, butter and eggs with an electric mixer. Add the sugar and beat again. In another bowl, stir together the flour, flaxseed, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Stir briefly until moistened and then fold in the rhubarb pieces. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for about an hour at 350 degrees. According to “Cooking Light” magazine, each slice of the bread has approximately 165 calories and 5 g of fat.
There are plenty of ways to tweak existing recipes to make them healthier, even recipes that already offer good nutrition. One easy way to adjust nearly any quick bread recipe is to substitute up to half the recommended amount of refined white flour with whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour to add more protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates. If you’re using a recipe that calls for butter or oil, you can also reduce fat and calories by using a lighter substitute. BettyCrocker.com suggests replacing up to half the butter or oil in quick bread with nonfat yogurt, fruit puree or applesauce.
Even with healthy adjustments, rhubarb banana bread can still pack more calories, fat and sugar into a slice than many other snacks, so it’s advisable to eat it in moderation with a variety of other nutritious foods. To produce the best taste possible when tinkering with traditional recipes and working with low-fat baking, always use fresh, high-quality ingredients.