Healthy Banana Walnut Bread

After the success of my Healthy Bran Muffins, I was sure that I could continue using olive oil to make healthy versions of every baked good that I could think of and I started with banana bread first. Turns out I was overly cocky.

It took me months of tinkering to come up with a really good loaf and it just so happened to come about as a result of not paying attention to the recipe and adding too much of one ingredient (buttermilk–I tripled it). If you know anything about baking, you know that when you add extra buttermilk you need to add extra baking soda.

The original recipe I modeled my healthy banana bread recipe didn’t call for buttermilk at all, so I had already tinkered with the amount of baking soda in the recipe once.

In earlier versions of this bread I used all wheat flour and then began playing around with the flour ratios. Honestly, I know better than to use all wheat flour in baked goods. I never like the result. It comes out too dry no matter what you do.

Another issue I had when I was experimenting with this recipe was the sweetness. Yes, I want a “healthy” banana bread. But I want it to be healthy and sweet and the early loaves didn’t seem to contain the right amount of sweetness.

Lastly, I had issues with walnut distribution. I alleviated this by chopping the walnuts up rather finely instead of leaving in big chunks (which look more visually appealing to me).

Every time I made this bread, I used a non-standard Jamie Oliver loaf pan. It’s taller and shorter. It also takes longer to finish baking. I noticed the edges of the bread were a bit too overdone by the time the middle/top of the bread had firmed up. For that reason, I would recommend a normal-shaped loaf pan when making this recipe.


  • ⅓ c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ c. honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. mashed ripe bananas (I didn’t measure but used 4 small bananas)
  • ¾ c. buttermilk
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ c. white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ c. chopped walnuts
  • banana slices for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, then whisk in the mashed bananas, vanilla and buttermilk.
  3. Add the baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and whisk to blend. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Fold in the chopped walnuts.
  4. Pour the batter into your greased loaf pan.
  5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the loaf pan for 15 to 30  minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool considerably before slicing.

Recipe rating: 

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