A healthy spin on the classic, this super moist Banana Date Bread uses only natural sweeteners and is made with healthier spelt flour. A dairy-free version is also available. Healthy, sugar-free, and crazy delicious!
I think we all know by now that I really like my fruit breads. They are always perfect for breakfast, a midday snack, or a light dessert. And it seems that you like fruit breads too! My moist banana bread is the most popular recipe on this site. It has over 100,000 repins on Pinterest alone!
Because that banana bread was so popular, I decided to give you (and me) a slightly healthier version. No plain flour or sugar here, just spelt flour and dates to keep things yummy for my sweet tooth. All the healthy ingredients make it even easier to justify a big slice for breakfast!
Using Dates as a Sugar Alternative
Dates are a wonderful healthy sweet. All those natural sugars from the date fruit are concentrated in the drying process. At my house, we always have a box in the fridge for when the urge to snack on something sweet takes us. Frequently I will blend them with yogurt or milk to add to pancakes and other foods. It makes it that much easier to get the kids to eat healthy foods.
Dates are also great for energy balls like my chocolate energy bites. Instead of using honey as the recipe calls for, you could blend dates with just a bit of water to create a paste. Energy balls are perfect for school lunches or gym snacks. You can just grab a couple on the go.
Because I wanted to avoid processed sugar for this recipe, I didn’t want to top the bread with streusel or frosting as I have done before. Instead, I topped it with date pieces! You don’t have to do so on your loaf, but I really recommend it – everyone wants a slice with some dates in my house. Like any fruit, the exposed dates caramelize just a little bit in the oven making the flavor even more amazing.
What is Spelt Flour?
Spelt is frequently considered an “ancient grain” because it is a crop that can occur naturally without human crossbreeding. It is a variety of wheat that is more nutrient-dense than standard mass-produced red wheat. Spelt has a deeper flavor than standard wheat and is great for use in muffins or healthy cakes.
Just like wheat flour, spelt comes in two varieties: whole and white. Whole spelt four is ground with the bran (outer coating of the grain) and contains extra nutrients and fiber. White spelt flour, on the other hand, has the bran removed. BUT. The good news is, nutrients are spread out throughout all the layers of the spelt grain, so they remain even in finely ground white spelt flour. There is also a third variety – light spelt flour, which is a mixture of whole and white ones.
I usually use the white variety because it’s a perfect substitute for all-purpose flour. In most recipes, white spelt flour can replace all-purpose in a 1:1 ratio.
Spelt is not gluten-free, but it has different gluten proteins and fewer of them than standard wheat. While not a good substitute for those looking to avoid gluten completely, some people with mild gluten sensitivity find spelt an acceptable alternative. I like using it because of the high nutrient content and unique flavor. As you know, I will always choose something flavorful and healthy!
And spelt is the perfect flour for a banana bread. Nutty, nutrient-dense, and low gluten for a wonderfully crumbly, naturally sweetened fruit loaf. I bet it will barely last two days in your house!
Banana Date Bread
- 6 oz. (170g) pitted dates
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups (250g) white spelt flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- a dash of nutmeg
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
- 2 large eggs , at room temperature
- 3 very ripe bananas , mashed with a fork or potato masher
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup walnuts , toasted and chopped
- 8 dates , pitted and halved, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Set aside.
- In a small food processor, blend the dates and buttermilk until smooth. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- Cream the butter with a hand mixer in another bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Mix in the date and buttermilk mixture, mashed bananas, and vanilla extract.
- Slowly stir in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Do not over stir. Gently stir in the walnuts. The batter will be thick.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top. Gently press the date halves into the batter. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes on a wire rack before removing from the pan.
Charla @ That Girl Cooks HealthyMarch 25, 2020 at 7:19 am
You can’t go wrong with banana bread made with dates and I’m also impressed that you didn’t have to resort to using any additional sugar.
JovitaMarch 27, 2020 at 10:15 am
Sometimes even I am surprised how well bananas and dates sweeten things 🙂
AdrianneMarch 25, 2020 at 8:43 am
Oh yum!! I think these looks like it would taste amazing. Bet it smells great too. Love the spelt flour. Cheers
JovitaMarch 27, 2020 at 10:18 am
Lately, I use exclusively spelt flour for all my recipes. It’s great that white spelt flour can substitute all-purpose in 1:1 ratio. No need to redo the recipe!
thisiswholesomeMarch 25, 2020 at 10:42 am
I love that you chose to sweeten it naturally. This bread is all I need for a filling healthy breakfast. I’d pair it with some almond butter…yum!
JovitaMarch 27, 2020 at 10:19 am
Almond butter is a great idea! And yes, it’s really great for a quick breakfast 🙂
AlisonMarch 25, 2020 at 11:43 am
I love a good banana bread but never used dates before. It really added something special.
JovitaMarch 27, 2020 at 10:20 am
I am sure you would love it, Alison 😉
kimMarch 25, 2020 at 12:26 pm
Yum! I’m a huge fan of dates and I love the flavor that they add to this banana bread. Such a delicious recipe that I’ll make again and again!
JovitaMarch 27, 2020 at 10:21 am
High five from another date lover! The recipe is really good, I can vouch for it 🙂
HaleyMay 7, 2020 at 6:48 pm
Can you use another flour? Because of this quarantine I cannot find spelt flour anywhere. Can I use all purpose?
JovitaMay 11, 2020 at 12:20 pm
Yes, absolutely. As I mentioned in the blog post: “white spelt flour can replace all-purpose in a 1:1 ratio.” 🙂
MichelleMay 9, 2021 at 3:09 pm
I have never used dates or eaten them knowingly in any recipe. I am blown away by how good this recipe was. I have been making banana bread for 30 years and I have my two go-to recipes but this is a game-changer and now part of the rotation. The sweetness the dates bring is so delicious and not overpowering. I really enjoyed the small chunks of dates that didn’t get completely pureed, they were so soft. Thank you so much for this great recipe!
JovitaJuly 13, 2021 at 9:20 pm
Wow, thank you for the comment, Michelle! Dates are my go-to healthy snack and they are really so on point in this bread 🙂