Photograph by Sarah Betts

Bourbon Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Words by Sarah Betts 

For me, part of planning the next adventure is dreaming up the meals and snacks to pack with me. Don’t get me wrong, tacky single track, mountain peaks, deep snow and starry skies are on the top of my list, but you can’t get there without Bourbon Chocolate Chip Banana Bread right?

One thing I know for sure is that in order to do work (in the use-your-muscles kind of way) you need energy. For some, this roughly translates to a calories in and calories out situation. You’re out for a long bike ride so you throw a few shot blocks and an energy bar in your pack. It’s the end of a long day of skiing so you scarf a plate of fries and a couple beers.

For me, this sort of work (working my body hard to ski a heavy pack into a backcountry hut, or pushing my legs to their limit as I pedal my bike to the to the top of an epic single track descent) means two things: I am currently doing what makes me the happiest I’ll ever be and probably have a gigantic grin on my face, and I have a really good reason to think about how I am fueling my body.

I am not really sure what comes first; the drive for adventure or the passion for good food, but for me they come hand in hand. The more intention and effort I put in to fueling my body well, the more fun I have out in the mountains doing what I love.

As a nutritionist, I think about this relationship from a pretty scientific perspective. The duration, intensity, season, type of adventure and crew that I am out with all matter as I consider what to pack for snacks, meals and hydration (and yes bourbon does fit into this equation somewhere).

For me, it’s not just about an energy exchange though. Yes, you’ll need a certain amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates, as well as a unique selection of macro and micronutrients in order for your body to function well and maintain energy while you’re out on the trail. But shouldn’t you pack something that actually entices you to stop for a snack?

I digress back to the Bourbon Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. 

I firmly believe you can’t really go wrong with whole, real foods, prepared with the intention to nourish the body, even when the food contains both chocolate and bourbon.

The thing about whole foods, and good adventures for that matter, is that they’re full of a lot of additional and complimentary elements that your body recognizes as beneficial. More than any pre-packaged protein bar, homemade treats made from good, whole food ingredients can provide your body with things like phytonutrients, enzymes and co-enzymes, fiber and amino acids in their whole food form. Bananas, for example, provide potassium (an important nutrient and electrolyte for muscle function) and natural sugars, which you’ll often find in their isolated forms in an energy bar. But what you get from whole bananas also includes over ten minerals, an array of B vitamins, fiber and pectins (beneficial for digestion), as well as Vitamin C.

What I am trying to say is, this banana bread is pretty much a necessity for your next adventure. It fits the caloric intake criteria, has amazing flavor, contains bourbon (no good adventure should be without it), and still manages to meet a high nutritional standard. It’s made with almond and coconut flours (high in protein and healthy fats while free of gluten and refined grains), sweetened with coconut sugar and bananas (low glycemic and nutrient dense), packed with flax, chia, coconut flakes, walnuts (for additional protein and essential fatty acids), and loaded semi-sweet chocolate chips and bourbon (for the general good of morale).

It’s adventure fuel and it’s delicious. 

Banana Bread for the Adventurous

  • 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil (or use grass-fed cultured butter if you prefer)
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar if you prefer)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons bourbon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend (look for a coconut and almond flour blend or blend your own)
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • Handful of unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup raw walnut pieces

Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix coconut oil into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl until mostly smooth. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour and mix to incorporate. Mix in the remaining ingredients and stir until just evenly incorporated into the dough (do not over-mix). Pour mixture into a greased 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.