Hawaiian-Style Whole Grain Banana Bread (Dairy-Free)
This banana bread is inspired by the glorious islands of Hawaii. We just returned from a week on Maui, where we enjoyed the warm sunshine, the clear ocean and amazing food. One of the island’s delicacies is banana bread, which you can find in nearly every restaurant prepared in myriad ways. As soon as we got home, I tried to replicate my favorite versions. In this recipe, I made the banana bread with whole grains and without dairy. I also added coconut and macadamia nuts, so it feels truly tropical!
Legend has it that “Julia’s” makes the most famous Hawaiian banana bread. I had no idea who, what or where Julia’s was. But even Bon Appetit magazine features Julia’s recipe in their magazine and touts it as one of the best. I should note that according to the published recipe, mine is not even remotely similar (other than the inclusion of bananas, of course).
On our last day in Maui, we were all feeling a little down about returning to the mainland, so we decided on one final adventure. We drove from our rental in Kaanapali along the northern part of the island, to the town of Pai’a and eventually – begrudgingly – to the airport. If you’ve never traveled this route (or the road to Hana, also on Maui), this is a treacherous stretch of road. For most of the 30 miles, the road is a single lane winding up and down the rugged mountains of the island. At each turn in the road, you hold your breath and hope no one is coming the opposite direction.
At certain points in the road, your car is a mere four feet from the edge of a steep cliff and with no guardrail, a misjudgment would certainly end badly.
As we went along, the views of the ocean became more and more stunning. Weaving through the mountains felt otherworldly – vivid greenery, gentle breezes and colorful wildlife abound. At one point, we neared a small town. By small, I mean there were a few island-style, modest homes along the road. Domestic animals wandered in between structures, but it otherwise seemed lifeless. And then we came upon a bright green outdoor food stand. Though it was empty (of people and merchandise), a sign nailed to it said “Julia’s.” And under that: “famous banana bread.”
THIS was Julia’s?!?!? World famous banana bread came from HERE?!?! We were miles from civilization. Was there even electricity up here? How on earth did Julia procure the ingredients for this bread, let alone bake it, distribute it AND make it famous?
I was stunned. But also disappointed that there was no bread for sale. ‘Cause I bet it’s good…
However, my version is mighty fine, if I do say so myself. It has the perfect balance of banana flavor and sweetness. The nuttiness and crunch of the macadamia nuts give it substance and the coconut (I used sweetened) makes it decadent.
Try it! And let me know what you think.