Low-fat banana walnut muffins – the Muffins of Good

BananaWalnutMuffins © J Horak-Druiff 2010

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I really wanted to call this post and its future companion piece Midnight with the (banana) Muffins of Good and Evil, parts 1 and 2.  Because, of course, that’s the first search phrase that people will punch into search engines when looking for banana muffins 😉 In the end, I opted for the title you see above – but let me tell you, it is a miracle for me to mention the words “banana” and “good” in the same sentence.

You see, I have had somewhat of a love-hate relationship with bananas – well, more of a hate-hate relationship, truth be told.  As I was her firstborn, my mom read all the child rearing books she could lay her hands on and they all said the same thing:  when you are ready to wean your baby onto solids, then mashed banana is the perfect food to start with.  She dutifully mashed the banana and transported it to my expectant mouth in a spoon.  I let the spoon pas my lips because, you know, she was my mom and I trusted her not to try and poison me.  But apparently it took about a split second for my mouth to register that this was not a texture I wanted to experience.  Apparently my hands flew up to beside my ears where they started making frantic “squishing” moments, mimicking almost exactly the movements my mouth were making as it expelled the offending banana onto my clothes. Nice.

And that was pretty much that for me and bananas:  I never outgrew the dislike.  Most other things that i used to abhor as a child, I have subsequently grown to like or even love, but not Evil Bananas.  I cannot abide banana milkshakes, or banana-flavoured sweets and smoothies can be a real challenge if they do not contain enough disguising berry flavours.  But for some reason I have always loved banana bread and banana muffins.  Clever tastebuds :)

My mom used to bake an absolutely killer banana bread.  I remember watching her peel and mash the blackened overripe bananas with a terrible fascination, and then I remember the whole house smelling like banana bread for what seemed like hours.  It was always a struggle waiting long enough for the bread to cool before slicing (or risk a crumbly mess!) and that first bite was always a little piece of heaven.

Sadly, after my mom’s death I discovered that she had not written down her banana bread recipe.  Maybe she had made it so many times that she had no need of a recipe.  Maybe the recipe came on the back of a flour packet and she just used the recipe on the package each time (my mom was an inveterate user of package recipes!).  I’ll never know.  All I do know is that I am on the eternal (and as yet fruitless) search for a moist, nutty banana bread recipe that can also be baked in muffin tins and taste just like Mamma’s.

A recent attempt made use of a recipe from my beloved Muffins Galore book.  On paper it looked like it might be spot on – but of course I discounted the fact that my mom never paid any heed whatsoever to calories when she cooked, and I am sure that her muffins were packed with butter.  These muffins, on the other hand, are really low fat and filled with healthy things, and they are… not bad.  But I have to say that they tasted a little dry and a little, umm, worthy, neither of which terms could ever be applied to my mother :)  Still, if you are after a low-fat nutty banana muffin, these are just the ticket – and see how pretty they turned out!

Looking for other banana recipes from bloggers?  Have a look at:



LOW-FAT BANANA WALNUT MUFFINS (makes 12 regular muffins)


150g self-raising wholemeal flour
150g self-raising white flour
2 tablespoons soft light brown sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
65g walnuts, chopped
3 large ripe bananas, peeled
3 Tbsp sunflower oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 Tbsp soured cream
2 Tbsp clear honey


Pre-heat oven to 200C (400F).  Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line the cups with paper muffin gcases.

Mix flours, sugar and walnuts in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork or potato masher until fairly smooth, then stir in the oil, eggs, soured cream and honey.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix briefly, unilt just combined.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it equally.  Sprinkle each muffin with a little sugar.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until risen and golden.  Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

If you liked these, you might also like my oat and cherry muffins, my blueberry muffins, or my cranberry orange & pecan muffins.
And don’t forget to get your barbecue and braai recipes to me by 23 September for the Braai, the Beloved Country event to celebrate South Africa’s Heritage Day this month!

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  1. says

    I don’t have issues with bananaz, but I do have issues with muffins, don’t know why, but it is not the thing I will grab first. I do make them often, because they are idea] lunchbox fillers. My children and Des have no issues with them though!!Thx for sharing!

  2. Jacqui says

    I am absolutely the same – bananas are the only thing I won’t eat (usually I’ll give anything a try once) – but I love love love banana bread! I’ve never made it myself though – I don’t know if I could stomach all the mashing of the overripe bananas. My aversion started with eating a really stringy banana when I was about 5…ever since then I just can’t handle the taste.
    Interesting fact: here in Australia a lot of people call banana bread “banana cake”. Definitely one of those times when I proudly claim my South African heritage and stick to banana bread :)!

  3. says

    Bananas also do not feature high on my list, even though I know they are natures anti depressants! But, like you I love banana bread and will make muffins with the overripe offending fruit when I buy them. Off to vote now :)

  4. says

    First, I voted many many times. Second, you reminded me of a story: when my younger brother was still in a high chair, mom had given him a ripe banana & a glass of milk for a snack. In the time it took her to go out into the garage for something, my older brother and I had Andrew washing his hair with overripe squished banana and milk. I wonder if he likes bananas today? And I only eat bananas barely ripe, sweet and firm, never ripe and in banana bread or cake. Any other way is vile. And I am so making these Muffins of Good – my man needs something yummy and low fat. Maybe I’ll add chocolate chips…

  5. Annemarie says

    I think you might actually be me in another life! I also took an instant dislike to banana as an infant and cannot eat it to this day. I cannot stand the smell of raw banana, even walking past them in the supermarket gives me the boak. I can eat banana cake (sorry NZer here) though I cannot make it for the life of me, I just can’t get past the mashing stage!

  6. Catherine says

    I’m just about to email you my mom’s banana bread recipe, which coincidentally (or not!) I’m planning to make with the kids this afternoon. I know this one did the rounds in PE so here’s hoping it’s similar to your mom’s.

  7. mademarian says

    Mash 4 or 5 ripe bananas with 115g soft butter. Add 250g brown sugar and 2 well beaten eggs. Add (well sieved) 2C flour, 3/4t bicarb, 1/2t baking powder to mixture. Bake in a 25cm lined loaf tin for an hour. Industrial oven 140 degrees, domestic with fan 150 degrees. You must test with a skewer as the inside takes ages to cook.

  8. says

    When I saw the photo of this muffin next to my cupcake photo at foodgawker.com, I had to read the post. I never had to overcome a dislike of bananas, but my husband has that same texture issue as you. I love a good less sweet, low-fat muffin. When I have cupcakes, I always scrape off the frosting.

  9. says

    Bananas have a flip side where they go all dark and spotty and smelly and I can’t stand them then. My father on the other hand prefers them spotty and squidgy. I’m not sure I can think of any other food which turns from being great to horrible whilst still being perfectly edible in both states. They are ideal for muffins though and low fat banana bread is one of the few low fat things that genuinely tastes like a treat.

  10. says

    I love bananas….but not overripe no definitely not. Then they are just perfect for baking with. I have the awesomest of awesome banana bread recipe. I am off to find it and send it to you. Would love you to try it and let me know what you think of it. Everyone who has ever tasted it has said that it is the best they have ever eaten…Hugs to you xx