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Best Ever Date-Sweetened Banana Muffins

Updated: Apr 12

These delicious muffins are full of goodness with no added sweeteners!


Paleo banana muffins

For the printable recipe, click here.


Banana Muffins 2.0

Banana muffins and Five Monsters Paleo go way back. In fact, the 5th recipe ever posted on this blog was Paleo Banana Muffins. Like the version we bring you today, our original version boasted plenty of nutritional-powerhouse-ingredients and no added sweeteners. 


But sometimes a good thing can become ever better. 


So today we deliver version 2.0, which the monsters all agree are the best healthy banana muffins ever. 


​Naturally sweet

Any real banana muffin receives a little natural-sugar boost from the natural sweetness of ripe bananas. In fact, banana muffins are an amazing way to utilize overripe bananas because the riper the banana, the sweeter it is--obviously we don't want to wait till they're completely rotten and moldy, but you get the idea. Overripe bananas work well here but are not required. Just avoid underripe bananas, as they are hard, starchy, and not very sweet. 


Anyway . . .


Typical banana muffins made with all purpose flour or other similarly starchy ingredients do require a lot of help in the sweetness department, no matter how ripe the bananas, because they tend to have a starchy flavor that prevails over the banana's natural sweetness. 


​Our original banana muffin recipe gets around this by eliminating the excess starch, relying mostly on almond flour, coconut oil, and eggs for structure, and really letting the sweetness of the banana shine. 


While I still think these purely banana-sweetened muffins have a place in the monster repertoire, their texture is noticeably different from something you'd find in the bakery aisle or the average kid's lunchbox. The monsters craved something a bit more traditional. 


Improving the texture meant playing with the starch balance a bit, which in turn led to the need for extra sweetness. 


And I had just the thing:


Best ever banana nut muffins

Dates!!

While of course we could have turned to brown sugar or even a more paleo-friendly sweetener like maple syrup, I really wanted to avoid added sugar and stick with a whole-food option that wraps its sweetness in a package of nutritional benefits. 


Dates may taste like nature's ultimate candy, but they bring fiber, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin B6, and iron to the party. They are, of course, high in natural sugar, but replacing extracted sweeteners with dates is a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth while boosting your intake of vitamins, minerals, and even antioxidants like flavonoids, carotenoids, and phenolic acid. We all know that refined sugar isn't doing us any favors, but even natural extracted sweeteners can't boast like the date. 


​If this is your first time using dates--your first date, if you will--there are just a few things to note:


We are talking about dried dates here. First of all, I don't know about your location, but fresh dates are not easy to come by in my part of the woods. Secondly, dried dates are a more concentrated package of sweet nutrition, and they last for ages in the fridge. Double win!


There are two main types of dried dates I'm typically able to get my hands on: medjool dates and deglet noor dates. 


This recipe is based on the deglet noor variety, which are smaller but incredibly delicious. I get mine from Costco or Aldi. 


Start by buying pitted dates to make things easy for you, but still check them for pits! One time 5 out of my 15 had sneaky pits still stuck inside, and you definitely don't want that! Pits can be a choking hazard and can sometimes damage a food processor or wreck a recipe. Always check each one!


We soften the dates in hot water to make them easier to puree. You can boil water in a pot or tea kettle, or you if you have a Keurig (or similar device), you can leave out the K-cup and "brew" the hot water right into a cup full of dates. 



Best ever date-sweetened banana muffins

​My preferred method for banana muffins is the food processor. It's the best/quickest way to achieve evenly mashed banana, and to achieve a uniform date paste, it's downright necessary. I'd love to tell you there's a good backup plan, but it would be nearly impossible to puree the dates by hand, and the mixture is frustratingly thick for a blender. 


If a food processor is not an option, pulse up the bananas and dates in the blender with all of the wet ingredients, including melted coconut oil (it does not need to be melted if using the food processor) and room temperature eggs. Whisk up the dry ingredients separately in a large bowl, then pour the date mixture into the dry mixture and whisk to combine. 


If you do not have or want to use coconut oil, feel free to substitute with avocado oil or, if needed, a mild-flavored vegetable oil. Butter and palm shortening will yield slightly less-moist muffins, and olive oil may be too strong a flavor for this recipe.


For dry ingredients, we still rely pretty heavily on almond flour, but we get a starchy supplement from cassava flour, with just a tiny bit of coconut flour and a little flax meal as a bonus! 


These healthy banana date muffins are a great recipe for a healthy breakfast just as they are, but you could always make them a little extra indulgent with the addition of chocolate chips. You could even whip up some cream cheese frosting (if you do dairy) and go full cupcake!


These delicious, gluten free, dairy free banana muffins are full of nutrients with the natural sweetness of bananas and luscious dates. They are not vegan muffins, however, as they do contain eggs. 


Date-sweetened banana muffins!

Here's what you'll need:

  • 15 dates, pitted (preferably deglet noor variety)

  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, or milk of choice

  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • ¼ tsp almond extract

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour

  • 1/2 cup cassava flour

  • 3 T flax meal

  • 1 T coconut flour

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp fine salt

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • Pinch ground nutmeg

  • 3 ripe bananas (medium size)

  • ¼ cup coconut oil

Here's what you'll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line one standard 12-cup muffin tin and 1 12-cup mini muffin pan with muffin liners. 

  2. Check your dates for pits. You may want to slice them in half just to be sure. In a heat-safe bowl or Pyrex measuring cup, cover the dates with boiling water, and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes. 

  3. Meanwhile, if desired, place chopped pecans or walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, just until they develop a few golden spots and become fragrant–don’t leave unattended. Set aside to cool.

  4. Use a fork to stir together the wet ingredients (almond milk-eggs) in a small bowl or Pyrex measuring cup. Set aside. 

  5. In a small-medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (almond flour-nutmeg). Set aside. 

  6. Strain the hydrated dates, place them in the food processor, and process till almost smooth or very finely chopped. Add the (peeled) bananas and coconut oil and process till smooth.

  7. Add the wet ingredients and process till smooth. 

  8. Add the dry ingredients and process till smooth. 

  9. Stir in toasted nuts if using, and scoop the muffin batter into prepared muffin liners. Bake standard-sized muffins for 25-30 minutes or till cooked through and just beginning to get golden on top. Bake mini muffins for about 16 minutes.

  10. Allow your delicious date-sweetened banana muffins to cool about 5 minutes in the muffin pans, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature if eating within the next day, or store in the fridge for about a week or the freezer for longer.


Best date-sweetened banana muffins!

For the printable recipe, click here.


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Hey Y'all!

I'm the Monster Momma.

I'm a Christ-follower, wife, mother to five sweet paleo monsters, writer, and

paleo food fiend.

Join me and my family on our paleo journey!

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