To call me a banana lover would be an understatement. Anything banana, I will eat: bananas, banana ice cream, banana bread, bananas foster, banana pancakes, dried bananas, banana baby food. Yeah, you heard that last one right. Baby food. I absolutely love the smooth, delicate texture of banana baby food. There is something about a jar of Gerber’s and a little spoon that I find both delicious and comforting (is it too soon in our relationship to reveal this information?) Maybe I’m just trying to hold onto the wee las deep down inside of me. Maybe I’m crazy. Possibly both. I know one thing’s for sure: I am bananas for bananas.
Lately, I’ve also been loco for all things coco: coconut water, coconut milk, coconut, coconut oil and coconut sugar. I fell in love with coconut again during my trip to Costa Rica, where coconut–in one form or another– is used in everything. And I mean everything.
And as the kind of girl who can’t pass up a warm slice of banana bread, I decided to marry bananas and coconut in this oh-so-satisfying sweet bread.
Coconut sugar is a completely natural sweetener, made from the sap of coconuts. It has a low glycemic index, meaning that our blood sugar doesn’t shoot up when we ingest it. Coconut sugar also has a high mineral content and is a rich source of potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. This sweetener also contains Vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B6, which enhance immune and nervous system function, promote cell growth and division, among many other benefits. Compared to brown sugar, coconut sugar has twice the iron, four times the magnesium and over 10 times the amount of zinc! 
Flavor profile: molasses, deep, rich.
Coconut oil has been getting some long-deserved recognition recently. I came across this book and was fascinated by it but also thought about how places like Costa Rica must be laughing their blue zone butts off that we haven’t discovered it sooner.
Pacific Islanders believe coconut oil to be the cure for all illness and regard it so highly that they refer to the coconut tree as “the tree of life.” Coconut oil is used widely throughout the world as both food and medicine as it has been known to cure a whole host of conditions. It is a staple in Ayurvedic medicine as well as other traditional medicine practices.
The magic of this oil lays in medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). The vast majority of fats and oils in our diets, whether they are saturated or unsaturated or come from animals or plants, are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Some 98 to 100% of all the fatty acids you consume are LCFA 
Our bodies respond to and metabolize each fatty acid differently depending on its size. MCFA are very different from LCFA. They do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and help to protect against heart disease. MCFA are the main reason for these health benefits of coconut oil:
- Promote weight loss
- Help prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and many other degenerative diseases
- Strengthen the immune system
- Improve digestion
- Prevent premature aging of the skin
- Beautify skin and hair
Flavor profile: coconuty! This oil weaves a subtle coconut flavor through food that has been cooked in it.
I also used almond flour and greek yogurt to make it gluten-free and amp up the protein content. This recipe was inspired by my friend glutenfreefitchick and adapted from a Chez Us recipe. I realized I made this bread on the eve of daylight savings. No better way to celebrate extra daylight than a warm slice of banana bread.
Gluten-Free Banana Coconut Bread
Makes 1 loaf
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt (add a 1/4 cup more if batter seems too thick)
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tbs agave nectar
2 ripe bananas, lightly mashed
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a bread loaf pan or line with parchment paper. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl; set aside. Beat coconut oil in a measuring cup or separate bowl until soft. Add greek yogurt and continue beating for a few minutes. Add sugar and mix until fluffy. Add egg, bananas, and agave and mix until combined. Add dry ingredients in two parts until combined. Pour into loaf pan. Top with a sprinkling of coconut sugar and coconut flakes (optional). Bake for 45-55 minutes, until bread is golden brown and a knife inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Enjoy!
Cheers to longer days and tropical memories,