[vegan, gluten-free, palm oil-free, soy-free, no added sugar]
Going bananas yet again! Getting tired of my banana recipes? Well, I’m not, so I’m serving one more delicious banana-based dessert to you. Here come healthy banana peanut butter bars! They are a no-nonsense, low-calorie adaptation of a classic American treat, chocolate chip peanut butter bars. I hope you enjoy them!
Healthy Banana Peanut Butter Bars Take on a Classic
When it comes to discovering new go-to dessert recipes, one of my absolute favorite sites is Chocolate Covered Katie. Katie’s recipes are wonderfully straightforward, easy, and exceptionally delicious. That’s why I keep visiting her site on a regular basis. Her focus is on traditional American desserts, sweet treats, snacks, and breakfast foods, as well as adaptations of them. There are lots of vegan recipes, or vegan, gluten-free, and ketogenic options are provided in addition.
I love so many of Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipes, but one that has stood out lately is one for Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars. It’s a dessert recipe that’s so quick to make with no hassle. And as is typical of so many American desserts, it combines the fantastic flavors of peanut butter and chocolate. Chocolate chip peanut butter bars taste amazing, although the downside is that they’re pretty calorie dense and, as such, not the healthiest alternative.
I decided to take a slightly lighter approach to this dreamy dessert. Unlike the chocolate chip peanut butter bars that inspired me to make them, my healthy banana peanut butter bars contain no added sugar. They’re naturally sweetened with banana, as well as erythritol, which is completely calorie-free. I also ditched the chocolate this time around and added a couple of tablespoons of protein powder to the mix. As a result, my healthy banana peanut butter bars are a vegan delicacy with less carbs and calories compared to the original recipe.
It’s Like Peanut Butter to My Banana
I’ve noticed that home-made peanut butter tends to be quite liquid and even a bit fluffy. Roasting the peanuts for a few minutes too long brings up a lot of their natural oils, and you might end up with a batch of peanut butter that’s bordering on runny. There is a marked difference from the supermarket peanut butters with added emulsifiers like soy lechitin. Vegan chocolate bars and chips typically also contain soy lechitin.
In this recipe, you’ll start by adding half a mashed banana to the peanut butter. It goes without saying that those are also the two main ingredients used. At first, when you combine the mashed banana and peanut butter, nothing seems to happen. As a matter of fact, the peanut butter only seems to be getting more liquid and hard to handle.
But then, the magic starts to happen! As you continue mixing, it becomes evident how well the two go together. It’s like banana to my peanut butter or peanut butter to my banana! The mixture becomes really thick and absolutely deliciously lush. It’s no longer hard to imagine it as the basis for your healthy banana peanut butter bars. To be honest, it’s got me entertaining the idea of ditching the whole baking process for planting my face in the peanut butter and banana goo.
Banana goes well with peanut butter, because it gives it just the right kind of texture. Besides, it adds just enough sweetness to the naturally salty peanuts. Inspired by this recipe, I tried filling my cookie dough cups with peanut butter and banana. It worked perfectly in them, too!
Banana Topping for Your Healthy Banana Peanut Butter Bars
Just for the sake of eliminating unnecessary food waste, it’s a good idea to use the other half of your banana in the recipe. Slice the remainder of the banana lengthwise or crosswise. Then top your healthy banana peanut butter bars using your imagination.
I topped mine by placing the banana slices symmetrically on top of the batter. I also pressed them down quite a bit in order to get an even surface. When they were done and had cooled, I cut 12 equal slices with the banana slices intact.
Inspiration for decorating the bars with sliced banana obviously comes from the banana bread craze of these past couple of months. I have been loving so many brilliant and beautiful decorations quarantine-ridden home bakers all around the world have posted on social media. I guess this pays homage to their finesse.
Of course you could use just about anything else. Next time, I might substitute crushed peanuts, macadamia nut halves, raisins, or cacao nibs for the banana topping. Not unlike Chocolate Covered Katie, I might even indulge myself with some dark chocolate chips. Whatever you (or me) end up using doesn’t take away from the fact that healthy banana peanut butter bars make for a delicious little sweet treat!
Banana Peanut Butter Bars
- ½ banana mashed
- 2 dl peanut butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ dl gluten-free oat flour
- 2 tbsp protein powder
- 1 dl erythritol regular or powdered
- 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp almond drink
- sliced banana, dark chocolate chips, or crushed peanuts optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a small (6.5 x 8") baking tin with parchment paper.
- Mash half a banana in a small bowl. Save the other half for topping (optional). Add the peanut butter and vanilla extract. Mix well. If the peanut butter is very thick, gently warm it in the microwave for a couple of seconds and then add in.
- In a separate small bowl, combine the oat flour, protein powder, erythritol, baking soda, and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. The dough will seem very thick at first, but keep stirring to combine.
- Add the almond drink and mix well to combine. Drop the dough into the baking tin. Press a piece of parchment paper on top to smooth it out evenly. Remove the paper.
- Top the bars with sliced banana, dark chocolate chips, or crushed peanuts. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges brown slightly. Let cool at least 30 minutes, as the bars will set while cooling.
- Use a sharp knife to cut into 12 equal bars. Enjoy!