No-Fear Vegan Stevia Banana Bread

Running fuel is defined by how much energy it packs—usually in the form of sugars.  Quick acting sugars for an immediate boost, and slower-burning sugars to keep you going.

banana bread 2 300x225So while dates and agave nectar fit the energy food bill, what about the rest of your day?  When you’re looking for a snack to nibble on over coffee or a sweet bite after dinner, you probably aren’t looking to “fuel up.”

For times like these when you’re just sitting around, pro triathlete Brendan Brazier recommends swapping the agave for stevia. And he’s right—stevia is a great idea.  There’s no sucrose to cause an unnecessary spike in blood sugar, and no extra fructose hanging around to process into triglycerides.

So why, then, is there a very full jar of stevia staring me down from my pantry?

Three Hurdles of Baking with Stevia

Three things always intimidate me about using stevia. Let’s address each one head on, in hopes of making the stevia universe a heck of a lot less mysterious!

1.  How much stevia to use

I am only going to say this once: Do not follow the conversion chart on the back of the jar.  Repeat: Do. Not. Follow. Chart.  (Ok, that’s twice I said it, but it’s that important!)  Since there’s no standard potency from brand to brand or from liquids to powders, it’s up to you to use just as much stevia as you need.

Most of the time, the amount I am happy with is a 3 times less than what the chart recommends.  The best idea is to start with just a little—like 1/8 to a 1/4 teaspoon—and take it from there.  There are no eggs to worry about in the recipe below, so in this case you can taste as you go.

2.  Keep it from tasting bitter

In The Kind Diet (Amazon affiliate link), the biggest complaint Alicia Silverstone has about stevia is the taste.  Somehow, it’s so sweet that it ends up tasting bitter and harsh.  I prefer the less concentrated stevia that is mixed with the natural fiber inulin, like Sweetleaf SteviaPlus.  My solution to take the bitter edge off (besides not using too much, see #1) is choosing complementary flavors.

In the recipe below, the stevia enhances the natural sweetness of the coconut milk and coconut flakes for a much warmer flavor.  It’s also good paired with orange juice, like in my Orange Currant Brunch cake.  If nothing in the recipe has a sweet profile, I suggest adding just a tablespoon or two of maple syrup.

3. Fill the gap

When you take the sugar, agave, or dates out of your recipe, it’s important account for the volume of what’s missing.  In this recipe, the bananas work double-duty: first for flavor, and second for bulk.  Another great filler is cooked and pureed cauliflower, which has a creamy neutral flavor.  About a half cup of “filler” works in a standard size recipe.

So now there’s nothing left to be afraid of with stevia!  I hope you try my recipe for Coconut Banana Bread for sweet snacking anytime, and let me know what you think.

Vegan Coconut Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp stevia (I used SweetLeaf SteviaPlus)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut (reserve 2 tbsp for topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 8×4 loaf pan with parchment paper and grease lightly with baking spray.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the oil, stevia, coconut milk, flaxseed, bananas, vanilla, and lime juice.  Beat until bananas are mashed and mixture is smooth.

In a seperate bowl, mix together the baking soda, salt, flour, and 1/2 cup of coconut.  Add dry ingredients to banana mixture, scraping down the sides and bottom of bowl to incorporate.

Spread batter into prepared loaf pan, and bake 20 minutes.  Carefully remove pan from oven and sprinkle with the reserved 2 tablespoons of coconut.  Return to oven and bake 40-50 minutes more, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  If the coconut topping browns to quickly, tent the banana bread loosely with aluminum foil.  Let cool before removing from pan.


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Comments

  1. I’m not a fan of stevia either, but I’m willing to give this a shot. Another great recipe. Thanks!

  2. I’ve always found stevias taste a bit too much and bitter. Good trick with the complementing flavors. I’ll have to give it a go sometime.

  3. This looks fantastic! Can’t wait to try it. I really love your recipes :)

  4. Most of the liquid stevia extract has vanilla flavoring in it as well, which takes away the bitter flavor. I recently tried the granules to season some cacao flavored nuts, but that was a bit fail. The bitterness was way to much for me. I have also been using stevia more lately in my daily smoothies. I use it sparingly now and in energy drinks, snacks and bars.

  5. Could you use applesauce in place of the coconut oil? With the coconut milk, I think the recipe could be a little too fatty.

    • Hey Sharon,

      To reduce the fat, I would recommend switching the coconut milk for another milk alternative like soy, almond or rice, and then adding coconut extract for flavor if you’d like.

      I think the structure might be off (and very dense) if there is applesauce since there are already extra banana to stand in for the missing sugar.

      Aside from using a different kind of milk, most of the fat is needed here since there are no butter and eggs to support the bread.

      If you aren’t a fan of coconut oil, any vegetable oil is fine, like canola, but again you may want to add some coconut extract.

      Thanks, Christine

  6. Banana bread is one of my favorites!! You should know I’m not a total vegan yet because I am still learning all about it in terms of different recipes so I’ll definitely add this to my list to try this weekend. I’m going to start swapping out dishes for more vegan appropriate dishes.

  7. I really hate the taste of stevia, almost everything I’ve purchased with stevia in it has tasted awful, but I’ve been thinking about giving it another shot lately. I was considering making muffins but maybe banana bread will be in my future.

  8. My problem: I have a living stevia plant growing in my yard. How do I convert that into “powder”? It is in the form of fresh leaves. I put several into a gallon jug of sun tea and it’s good, maybe even too sweet.

  9. Thanks for the recipe! Made this today and it came out yummy.

    I used almond milk (because I did not have any coconut milk) and chia flour instead of the ground up flax seeds. My parents are diabetic and I am happy they were able to enjoy this as well.

  10. This looks wonderful, but have you ever thought about including calorie counts, how many servings per recipe and such? I’m going hunting for an online tool…

  11. Perhaps let the ripe bananas sweeten the bread and leave the additional sweeteners out.

  12. Mmmmmmm

  13. Hello, I see you use whole wheat but what about gluten free? Let me know your thoughts.
    Thanks!

  14. Rebecca says:

    Hi, Could you please let me know what coconut milk is used in this recipe.

    Thank you

  15. Thank you for helping me understand how to use stevia in place of sugar. I love to bake and I’m Vegan my Doctor wants me to stop eating Soy and Sugar. So I’m trying to redo everything I eat and they are both a challenge for me . I’m going to try this recipe it looks great. Thank you. Andrew

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  1. [...] out Christine’s recipe and some tips for baking with stevia here. Thanks for helping the baking novices like me [...]

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