Blueberry-Banana Spelt Bread Recipe (gluten-free version too!)

blueberry-banana bread | pamela salzman

This year I am trying to get an early jump on the beginning of school.  I actually say that every year and I still end up in those ridiculous lines at Staples on the first day of school.  My oldest daughter is going into 12th grade (I am clutching my heart right now), so you would think that I had this thing down.  So not the case.  Until now.  I just figured out really late in the game that I need to outsource, meaning I need to delegate some of these tasks to other people.  No, I don’t all of a sudden have a staff of helpers at my disposal.  But I do have capable children that have waaaaaay more time on their hands than I do and they can navigate the internet like nobody’s business.  Why didn’t I think of this 10 years ago?

these are ripe bananas

The kids have just ordered their supplies, backpacks and lunch paraphernalia online and helped fill out a stack of forms (they all know their birthdays and where we live, right?).  This has been such a huge help that I am even going to ask them to start helping with their lunches.  Just don’t tell them yet.  I need to figure out a way to break this to them gently!

wet mix


whole spelt flour

I also thought I would start stocking the freezer with some goodies so weekday meal preparation goes a little more smoothly.  I made a few delicious quick breads last week and halved each of them.  One half to enjoy now and the other half is frozen for a rainy day, i.e. a future school day breakfast or lunchbox snack.  I dug into my archives (have I been online long enough to have an archive?) and put a summer twist on my date-sweetened banana bread, one of my absolute favorite, wholesome quick breads.  I actually made three loaves — one with whole spelt flour and two with a blend of gluten-free flours with which I have been experimenting lately.  I am using more and more spelt flour instead of whole wheat, especially in sweet things.  Read about why I love spelt here!  And since I know so many of you wan to avoid gluten, I also made a couple of loaves with different gluten-free flours.  You can always use your favorite store-bought gluten-free flour blend (my favorite is King Arthur) plus some xanthan gum, but those can be a bit pricey.  Either way, it reminded me how versatile most recipes are and that I only need to change a few ingredients to make something more seasonal and/or new.  All the loaves turned out amazing and the kids gobbled them up!

sprinkle some blueberries and nuts on top too

This weekend I’m also going to make and freeze some cookie dough, brown rice for rice bakes, fresh fruit for smoothies and chicken stock since the weather has started to get a little chilly here.  How are you getting organized for the beginning of the new school year?  Would love for you to share.   May the force be with all of us!

blueberry-banana spelt bread | pamela salzman

blueberry-banana spelt bread | pamela salzman

5.0 from 2 reviews
Blueberry-Banana Spelt Bread
Serves: makes 1 9 x 5-inch loaf
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter or unrefined coconut oil, at room temperature
  • ½ cup maple syrup (I prefer Grade A which has a more subtle flavor)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole spelt flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 large ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 cup)*
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Line with parchment paper, if desired.
  2. Beat the butter with the maple syrup in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs and vanilla and combine well. The mixture will look curdled and that is normal.
  3. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt. Add to the wet mixture and combine until just blended. Fold in the mashed bananas and most of the blueberries and nuts. Save a few bleuberries and nuts for the top of the loaf.
  4. Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the reserved blueberries and nuts on top. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes and then remove the bread and transfer onto a rack.
*Do not attempt this with bananas that are unripe.  They are neither sweet enough nor soft enough.


this one is gluten-free
this one is gluten-free

Gluten-free dry mix to sub for the 2 cups of spelt flour:

½ cup sorghum flour

½ cup millet flour

½ cup sweet rice flour

¼ cup GF oat flour

3 Tablespoons potato starch

1 Tablespoon tapioca starch

1 teaspoon xanthan gum



Banana “ice cream” sundaes recipe

Banana "Ice Cream" | Pamela Salzman

Although I recently became dairy-free, I haven’t been able to eat ice cream for quite some time.  It’s a pretty hard-to-digest food even if you make it from scratch, and not one that has agreed with me in many years.  But when I got married, I used to eat ice cream every day and for several years afterwards.  At any given time, I think we had at least a dozen different pints in our freezer into which we would dip every night after we put the babies to sleep.  My mother-in-law thinks I can’t digest ice cream anymore because I OD’d on it all those years.  Perhaps.

freeze bananas peeled

homemade almond milk and pure vanilla extract

Last week I needed a little comfort food and I craved a quick, sweet pick-me-up while I watched the television in total disbelief of all that chaos.  I was really close to snagging the remains of Mr. Picky’s favorite Three Twins vanilla ice cream, but I know that I would have felt even worse afterwards, for many reasons.  Because we make so many acai bowls and smoothies around here, I  always have frozen bananas on hand.  One thing I’ve never posted is banana “ice cream.”  I’ve always figured by now most people have seen this on Foodily or Pinterest.  If you haven’t, it’s just frozen pieces of banana, blended in a Vitamix or a food processor with a touch of almond milk or regular milk and maybe a little sweetener to taste.  It comes out the consistency of soft serve ice cream and really hits the spot if you’re in the mood for a frozen treat.  But it’s really just bananas, so it’s a million times better for you than regular ice cream or (blech) popsicles made with food coloring.  I told my mother-in-law about banana ‘ice cream” and she offered to buy me a Yonana machine which basically does the exact same thing.  She’s so thoughtful, but you can really do this no problem in your food processor or high powered blender.

blend bananas and almond milk and vanilla

Banana "Ice Cream" plain and simple | Pamela Salzman

So why am I posting this “recipe” when I assume everyone has heard of banana “ice cream?”  Because apparently, not everyone has!  At least Gwyenth Paltrow doesn’t think so.  I am a huge Gwyneth fan and I just received her new book, It’s All Good, which looks fantastic.  Low and behold, there’s a recipe in there for banana “ice cream” with roasted almonds.  If Gwyneth can put it out there, so can I.

Banana "Ice Cream" with Cacao Nibs and Roasted Cashews | Pamela Salzman

I do want to emphasize that you can’t really follow a recipe here since there are a few variables which can affect the outcome of your ice cream.  First of all, you must start with ripe, well-speckled bananas.  Ripe bananas are much, much sweeter than pale yellow-skinned ones and will allow you to make this with a minimum amount of added sweetener.  That said, the amount of sweetener will vary according to the sweetness of your bananas.  I’ve made this many times without any sweetener at all, but sometimes a smidge of raw honey adds just the right amount.  So it’s best not to follow a recipe and just “sweeten to taste.”  Keep in mind however, that this recipe uses 4 bananas.  So don’t eat the whole thing unless eating 4 bananas is a normal thing for you.  I always add stuff to it like chopped nuts, raw cacao nibs or granola to make it a little more substantial and keep it healthy.  But you can have fun and put out a “sundae” bar with toppings like chocolate sauce, mini-chocolate chips, toasted coconut or honey-roasted peanuts.  This is a truly guilt-free treat!

Banana "Ice Cream" by Pamela Salzman

Banana "Ice Cream" Sundae
Serves: 2-4
  • 4 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, about 2 ½ cups (if you’re using a Vitamix or another high-powered blender, you can cut bananas into larger pieces)
  • ¼ - ½ cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice (you can use the smaller quantity if you’re using a Vitamix)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • sweeten to taste with a few teaspoons (more or less) of raw honey, Grade A maple syrup or a couple drops of stevia
  • Toppings: granola, raw cacao nibs, mini-chocolate chips, toasted coconut, chopped walnuts, chopped toasted and salted cashews, chopped honey-roasted peanuts, chocolate sauce
  1. Arrange the banana pieces on a baking sheet or a plate and freeze until frozen. Click here for a step-by-step on how to freeze fruit. Place individual bowls for the ice cream in the freezer.
  2. When the bananas are frozen, store in a container for later use or place in the bowl of a food processor or Vitamix or other high-powered blender. Add almond milk, vanilla and sweetener to taste. Process until smooth and creamy. I find that the food processor needs a little more liquid and a few more seconds to achieve the desired consistency, which is like soft serve ice cream.
  3. Transfer the ice cream to the frozen bowls and serve immediately with toppings, if desired. You can also store the ice cream in the freezer for another time, but you’ll need to allow it to sit on the countertop to soften up for a few minutes before eating so that it’s scoopable.
Sweeten to taste with raw honey, Grade A maple syrup or stevia according to how ripe your bananas are.  You may not need to add any sweetener at all!

Chocolate Banana Almond Flour Muffins with Chia Seeds Recipe (Gluten-free & Passover Friendly)

Chocolate Banana Chia Seed Muffins with Almond Flour | Pamela Salzman

There’s a new (but not really new) diet in town which everyone is talking about called the Paleolithic Diet or Paleo, for short.  Sometimes it’s referred to as the Caveman or Hunter-Gatherer Diet and it focuses on the foods humans ate pre-industrial agriculture.  The idea is that our bodies recognize certain foods and haven’t evolved to recognize other newer foods so we should stick to what was eaten during the Paleolithic time to be healthy and fit.  The diet allows lean grass-fed and pastured meats, eggs, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, coconut, avocado and healthy fats.  Easy, right?  But the diet does not allow anything processed or refined (like sugar, flour, packaged food), or any grains (wheat, rice, barley, etc.), legumes (beans, lentils), dairy, potatoes or processed oils.  I am not encouraging or discouraging this diet, which I think has its pros and cons, but merely giving a quick explanation since I’ve received a few questions about it recently.

all the dry ingredients

As I have noticed more and more people limiting gluten and grains, I have also noticed the increased popularity and use of almond flour, which is finely milled blanched almonds.  Almonds, like all nuts and seeds, are gluten-free, low in carbohydrates and high in protein.  Whereas nuts and seeds, generally speaking, can be slightly acid-forming, almonds are alkalizing.

I love Medjool dates!  Dice them when they're cold -- much easier.

A few years ago I found Elana Amsterdam’s great gluten-free website,, which I think started the almond flour revolution.  Elana has since turned paleo, and all her newer recipes follow those guidelines.  It’s really because of her website that I was inspired to experiment with almond flour and although I have had mixed results, overall I think it’s awesome once I figured out how to work with it.  I think it’s great to add some variety to our diet and I love getting some extra protein into Mr. Picky.  Almond flour also comes in handy around Passover, 8 days of no grains or legumes, except Matzoh which can start to get a tad boring after a few days.

Add dates to combined dry ingredients

I had a really delicious Chocolate Banana Chia Seed muffin at Le Pain Quotidian last year or the year before and I was intent on duplicating it.   The muffin was moist with the perfect amount of sweetness and I loved the crunch from the chia seeds.  They were kind enough to tell me the ingredients (although not the exact recipe) and I made a tasty version at home with whole wheat pastry flour and maple syrup.  The kids thought they were great!  When I tried using almond flour in place of the wheat flour, we all went crazy for them.  The almond flour version of the muffin was the best — super moist, chocolaty and a little denser, but in a good way.  Now when I make these muffins, I always use almond flour!

it's good to break up the date pieces

pour in the wet mixture

Before you start substituting almond flour one-for-one for wheat flour, stop right there.  It isn’t a perfect substitution.  Almond flour has no gluten, but does contain way more fat than wheat flour so there are a few adjustments to be made.  I would stop by Elana’s Pantry for a quick lesson on how almond flour works.  I also have found that specifically labeled “almond flour” is better than “almond meal” (like Bob’s Red Mill.)  Per Elana, I started buying almond flour from Honeyville Grain, which has a very good, fresh product and a very reasonable shipping fee ($4.50 flat rate.

fold in the mashed banana

batter with the mashed bananas

These muffins are not technically Paleo due to the yogurt, although if you can find an unsweetened almond milk yogurt, that would work here.  Or you can try making these without the yogurt and just add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, although I have never done it and can’t guarantee the results.  I’m really posting these as a great gluten-free, Happy Passover muffin, although I make these all year.  In fact I made these recently and Daughter #2 had a few friends over and they inhaled half the batch in 2 minutes.  (I’m telling you, if you want the kids to hang out at your house, you need FOOD.)  To make this more of a dessert, you can certainly substitute chocolate chips for the diced dates.  The chia seeds are fun and obviously nutritious, but there’s less than 1 teaspoon per muffin so it’s not a dealbreaker if you want to omit them.

using an ice cream scoop makes this easy

ready for the oven

As always, I love hearing about your experiments in the kitchen and would especially be interested to know about your experience with almond flour or your favorite Passover treats.  Once again, I’m on dessert duty for Passover and I’m getting busy right now.  This weekend I will be making loads of Macaroons, both plain and dipped in chocolate, the Lemon Ice Torte which I have been making since 1991, and a raw cashew “cheesecake” which I will have to share another time.  There is also a recipe on my site for a (vegan) Coconut Tart with Strawberries which is perfect for Passover and Easter.  Lots of delicious options!

also delicious warm out of the oven!

Chocolate Banana Almond Flour Muffins with Chia Seeds
Serves: makes 12 muffins
  • 1 ¾ cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal – I use Honeyville)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of chia seeds + 1 Tablespoon for muffin tops
  • ½ cup diced pitted dates, about 7 dates (easier to dice when they’re cold) (optional, or ½ cup chocolate chips)
  • 4 Tablespoons melted unrefined coconut oil
  • 4 Tablespoons whole unsweetened yogurt
  • ⅓ cup 100% pure maple syrup or honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with unbleached parchment liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and 2 Tablespoons chia seeds.  Add dates and break up pieces so they don’t stick together.
  3. In a blender, combine coconut oil, yogurt, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla.
  4. Pour wet mixture into bowl with dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Fold in mashed bananas.
  5. Divide the batter into the prepared pan.  (An ice cream scoop makes this job easy.)  Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out  clean.


Grilled banana s’mores recipe

I had my first s’more on a girl scout camping trip when I was 12 and I thought it was genius.  I loved that crispy graham cracker paired with a smooshy, slightly burnt marshmallow and the way the chocolate just started to melt a little.  Do-it-yourself desserts are just so fun to put together too, especially when you’re with friends.  I remember sitting around the campfire with the other girls trying to get the perfect golden toastiness on our marshmallows without actually setting them on fire and then giggling as we snuck an extra square of chocolate, because why the heck wouldn’t we?

I think s’mores have a way of bringing out the kid in all of us, so they are always a welcome dessert in the summer when we have other families over for dinner.  Set your s’mores bar with homemade graham crackers and your family and friends will be like, “no you didn’t!”  I certainly don’t have to tell you how to put together a s’more, but I thought I would share a fun twist on a classic.

Since I think marshmallows border on toxicity (I can be fun, really!), that was my target in creating a more healthful s’more.  Basically, I grill firm, but ripe and speckled bananas and use those in place of the marshmallows.  You still get something sweet, something soft and something that tastes amazing with chocolate and graham crackers.  The point of grilling them is just to get them warm enough so they melt the chocolate a little bit, so watch out for chocolate dripping down your chin.  With all the fun, new chocolates out there, I think it would be amazing to put out some interesting ones for people to use.  Picture a grilled banana s’more paired with caramel and sea salt chocolate or one laced with hot pepper or bits of lavender.  Did I have you at “grilled?”

Grilled Banana S'mores
Serves: makes 12
  • 24 graham crackers (I used 3 x 3 ½ inch homemade)
  • 3 3.5-ounce thin bars of chocolate (thin is better so that it can melt a little)
  • oil for brushing the grill, such as coconut or olive oil
  • 2 large or 3 medium firm, but ripe bananas
  1. Preheat the grill to medium.
  2. Arrange 12 graham crackers on a platter and top with a 1-ounce piece of chocolate or a piece large enough to fit.
  3. Peel the bananas and slice in half crosswise. If the bananas are large, you can cut them in thirds. Then slice each piece lengthwise. Brush the grill with oil and grill bananas 2-3 minutes on each side until warm. The goal is just to get them warm so that they melt the chocolate slightly. You can also arrange the bananas on a baking sheet and broil them for a couple minutes until warm and toasty.
  4. Top each piece of chocolate with a banana slice and then with a graham cracker. Serve immediately.
Another option is to make s’mores sandwiches with raw bananas, wrap each individually with parchment and foil and place on the grill over medium heat until chocolate is slightly melted.
Or you can forgo the square of chocolate and spread with chocolate nut butter. Delish!


No-Sugar, No-Egg, No-Flour Breakfast Cookie Recipe

Most people are not mind readers, so if you have a wish for the perfect Mother’s Day, you may need to drop a few hints.  I used to dream of a day where I could relax in my bed for a few extra minutes, maybe with the newspaper and a fresh cup of tea.  Then off to a rare workout or walk along the beach.  I would wish for a little extra time to do my hair before having a yummy and healthful brunch with my favorite people in the world, my husband and my kiddos.  Ha!  Sometimes we moms keep doing for others and feel guilty about taking time for ourselves.  You know what?  We run around at 90 miles an hour every day of the year, it’s OK to have one day where you get put on a pedestal and your loved ones spend the day worshipping you.

But I’ll admit, I’ve never been very good at asking for things.  Year after year, we would go out with my husband’s family for brunch to a crowded restaurant or hotel.  The men spent a lot of money for average food and lots of noise and this wasn’t dreamy to me.  Then two years ago my good friend Melissa told me that her Mother’s Day is spent at the home of her in-law’s and all the guys get together in the kitchen to make lunch for the ladies.  LIGHT BULB!  So last April, I made a few subtle suggestions and guess what?  My husband can take a hint!  He organized the troops to cook the loveliest lunch at our home.  Never mind that the kitchen looked like something exploded in there, I didn’t have to lift a finger and my hair looked great.

This year we’re doing the same thing and I am totally excited.  If this sounds good to you, but there isn’t enough advance warning for your family to mobilize, you can at least make a few suggestions for breakfast in bed…like these breakfast cookies!  You can whip them together the day before and suggest that they be delivered bedside on a silver platter with a coffee or tea and some fresh fruit.  A little bud vase with a beautiful flower would be nice too, but maybe we shouldn’t push it.  These “cookies” are like having your oatmeal and toppings in a tasty and neat little package, and it kind of feels like you’re eating a cookie.  Splurge!  But look at the ingredients — totally clean and won’t offset that workout you’re going to get in!

If breakfast cookies aren’t your thing (really?), here are a few other ideas to give your family a little help:

Happy Mother’s Day to all you beautiful women.  I wish I could jump through the computer to give you a big hug.  The world is a better place for all you do.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Breakfast Cookies
Serves: makes 12-16
  • 1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • ¼ cup almond meal or sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts and almonds, but pecans are great, too)
  • 1 cup unsulphured dried fruit, chopped (I used dried dates and blueberries)
  • 3 ripe bananas or 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, coconut, almond meal, cinnamon and salt. Add the nuts and dried fruit combine with the mixture, breaking up the dried fruit so it doesn’t clump together (I use my hands to mix this.)
  3. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas and stir in the oil and vanilla.
  4. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Take scoops of the batter either with a ⅓ cup or ¼ cup measuring cup and drop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets. Flatten with your hand to about ¾-inch thick. Bake for a about 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in the fridge after a few days or wrap and freeze.

Chocolate-covered frozen bananas

Are you asking yourself if I have gone mad?  Two desserts in one week!  What happened to “moderation?”  People, I write it like I see it and chocolate-covered frozen bananas are what the past few weeks have been about around here.  Have you ever been in a “food phase?”  I mean when you eat something that makes you think about eating it all the time and then you do?  Some food phases, like when I ate raw kale salad several times a week for months, are better than others, like in the ’90s when I went through a nonfat frozen yogurt phase that lasted several years.  Blech.  My husband is in a chocolate-covered frozen banana phase and I see no signs of it letting up.  It all started in May of this year at the bar mitzvah of my friend Kim’s son where they passed around mini-frozen chocolate banana bites at the end of the evening.  My husband and I looked at each other after a few as if to say “where have we been?”  Before I knew it, the mister was taking detours through town just to pass the Manhattan Creamery where he would buy a frozen banana or two.  He was even offering the kids frozen banana rewards for the most ridiculous things.  Obsessed.

All joking aside, I actually think these bananas have the potential to be an okay dessert, especially if you can use good quality, organic dark chocolate, which I keep telling myself has lots of antioxidants!  So I thought to myself, how hard could dipping bananas be?  Well, I wouldn’t be writing a whole post about it if it were just a matter of dipping a banana in chocolate.  Let me save you some time and some chocolate with my frozen banana tips and tricks:

  • use ripe, speckled bananas for maximum sweetness.
  • don’t use overripe, black bananas which will ooze after they’ve been covered in chocolate;  save those for banana bread.
  • insert the stick in the banana before freezing it (obvious to you, maybe).
  • insert the stick in the banana before peeling it, to prevent the banana from splitting.
  • freeze the banana before coating in chocolate so that the chocolate hardens right away.
  • do add a little oil or butter to the melted chocolate to thin it out a bit, otherwise it makes too thick a coating on the banana.
  • I prefer to spoon the chocolate over the banana as opposed to dipping.  The melted chocolate stays much more smooth and won’t seize up on you.
  • if you’re using toppings, work quickly.  If the chocolate is allowed to harden, the toppings won’t stick.

I think these are a really fun treat.  I feel better about hubby and the kids eating these than a lot of other things, plus they are super easy to make.  If you are going to take the time to try this out, you might as well make a whole bunch, so to speak, since they stay frozen for a good amount of time.  I decided to use toppings on most of them and I kept it real with toasted coconut, chopped nuts and crushed granola.  I’m sure you have probably seen similar bananas rolled in sprinkles or candy, but you didn’t come here for that, now did you?


5.0 from 1 reviews
Chocolate-Covered Frozen Bananas
Serves: makes 10
  • 5 large ripe, well-speckled bananas (or up to 7 small bananas)
  • 10 popsicle sticks or candy apple sticks (I used both here.)
  • 2 cups good quality chocolate pieces (I used Dagoba 72% chocodrops -- dark chocolate contains antioxidants and less sugar than semisweet or milk chocolate )
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil or unsalted butter
  • Topping ideas: toasted coconut, finely chopped nuts, crushed granola
  1. Cut the UNPEELED bananas in half and insert a popsicle stick into the cut side of each banana. Peel the bananas and arrange in one layer on a parchment or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze bananas until firm, at least 30 minutes, but ideally a few hours.
  2. In a double boiler, or in a heat-proof bowl set atop a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate and coconut oil, stirring frequently until smooth.
  3. If using toppings, arrange in shallow containers before starting.
  4. Remove bananas from freezer and one at a time, hold a banana over the melted chocolate and spoon chocolate over the banana until completely coated. Allow excess to drip back into bowl. Before chocolate completely hardens, roll in topping of choice and return to baking sheet.
  5. Repeat with all the bananas and return baking sheet to the freezer until chocolate is completely hardened, just a few more minutes. Serve immediately or store in a container in the freezer up to two weeks.


Date-sweetened banana bread recipe

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

One of my pet peeves is when people label a dessert as “healthy,” and not because that is grammatically incorrect, but rather because desserts have sugar of some form and that will never be “good” for you no matter how much whole wheat flour you throw in there.  Of course, you could say one dessert is more healthful than another or that it will lead to the demise of your health less quickly than its traditional counterpart.  But to call a dessert healthful because we use yogurt instead of butter, but then add in 3 cups of sugar, is just plain delusional.

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

Would you call me a hypocrite if I told you I have a recipe for a healthful dessert?  I don’t blame you, but stay with me here.  I know of a sweet something that calls for no sugar of any kind — not even my favorite, maple syrup.  Don’t be silly, I am not going artificial on you!  It is a delicious banana bread sweetened only with ripe bananas and pureed dates.  Dates grow locally in Southern California, so we have access to some fantastic varieties here, my favorite being the Medjool.  If you are ever craving something sweet, but don’t want to give in to processed junk, take a pitted date or two and stick a pecan in the middle.  Amazing.  I digress.  The dates do double duty as sweetener and add moistness so we cut back on some of the butter, too.  The key, though, with any banana bread is using super ripe bananas, well-speckled with lots of black dots (the kind many people toss in the garbage — arrgh!).

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

Banana bread freezes beautifully and makes a terrific muffin, as well.  I adapt this recipe according to the season, adding blueberries in the summer, fresh cranberries in the fall and walnuts or pecans in the winter.  This banana bread is not as sweet as the ones you may be used to, so yes, you can add chocolate chips or a drop of maple syrup if you must.  Just don’t call it healthy!

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

4.8 from 45 reviews
date-sweetened banana bread recipe
Serves: Makes 1 9X5 loaf
  • 1 cup dried dates (about 7 ounces), pitted
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or unrefined coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour, spelt flour or sprouted spelt flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 3 large, ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup raw walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped (or fresh blueberries or cranberries)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan. (Can be lined with parchment if it is aluminum.)
  2. Place the dates in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the hot water and allow the dates to soften for at least 10 minutes. (I usually get the rest of my ingredients ready while the dates are softening.)
  3. Turn the mixer on low speed and blend until the water has incorporated with the dates. Turn the mixer to medium low speed and beat the dates until a smooth puree forms.
  4. Add the butter or coconut oil and beat until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter-date mixture and mix until just combined.
  6. Fold in the mashed bananas and walnuts.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes (I made it in many different ovens with this range of time), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out barely clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.