Greek Yogurt Banana Nut Bread

A few weeks ago, my husband spotted a mourning dove sitting in the corner of our back patio. The bird was hiding in a shadow behind a planter, standing very still, trying its best to go unnoticed. When we approached the dove startled, but didn’t fly away. We could tell her wing was injured. We watched her, wondering what to do. We’re both animal lovers, and the thought of this little bird in pain broke our hearts. I considered trying to capture her so I could bring her to the vet, but she was very skiddish– each time we got close, she spooked and hobbled away. In the end, we decided to give her food and water, hoping for the best.

We lined up a few planters to give her more protection. We have three parrots, so food wasn’t a problem– I scattered some birdseed near the planters and placed a small dish of water nearby. After making sure she had plenty to eat and drink, we walked inside and spied on her from our kitchen window. Several minutes later, she timidly hobbled over to the dish and sipped the water with her beak. She drank for a long time, then began to peck at the seeds. My heart bloomed, as it always does when I see a child or animal eating. The mother in me loves nothing more than giving nourishment to others.

For the next week we kept a close eye on the dove, feeding her and refilling her water daily. My dog Marley was banned from the back yard, which made him very unhappy, but the last thing an injured dove needs is a big goofy labrador sniffing at it. As the week progressed, other birds discovered that our patio was an endless source of manna. Blue jays and robins made frequent appearances, tucking into the birdseed like they’d won the lottery. Little mourning dove cowered in the corner quietly, waiting for them to steal their share. We always made sure that she had enough. A few times, we saw her stretching her wings and walking around, as though testing her newfound strength. She became more adventurous, toddling out beyond the planters to the edge of the patio.

And then, one morning, she was gone. I panicked, wondering if a coyote had gotten to her. We live in the Hollywood Hills, where any number of creatures might have seen the mourning dove as an easy meal. We searched the entire back yard, but she was nowhere to be found. We hoped that perhaps, by some miracle, her wing had healed and she’d been able to fly away. Maybe we would never know for sure.

Then, a couple of days later, there she was– perched on the back of a patio chair, calm as can be, as though waiting for us to come out and say hello. I didn’t want to get too close and startle her, but I was able to get a picture with my zoom lens. Here she is:

She stayed for a few hours. At one point she hopped to the planter and nestled there, peering down at the corner where she’d spent her recovery. I scattered birdseed and she nibbled at it. Then, as the sun began to set, she flew away. We haven’t see her since.

I believe she came back to say thank you. She knew what we’d done to help her. Such a simple moment, but it reminded me of how every creature in our world is connected. What a gift that we could offer this little bird shelter, nourishment, and ultimately life. It was a blessing.

This story has very little to do with baked goods, but I wanted to share a recipe with you today – Greek Yogurt Banana Nut Bread. I’ve cut most of the butter and added Greek yogurt, applesauce, smashed bananas and nuts to my standard quick bread recipe. The result is a super moist, spongy, low fat banana bread with a terrific texture. It’s a tasty and foolproof quick bread that is lower in calories than traditional banana bread. It’s also terrifically yummy– sweet, but not overly so. If you like your banana bread cake-sweet, add another 1/4 cup of sugar. I like it as written.

If our little mourning dove still lived on our patio, I’d treat her to a few crumbs in with her birdseed.

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Greek Yogurt Banana Bread


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 lb.)
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (whole, 2% or nonfat)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Dash of cloves
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • Nonstick cooking oil spray

You will also need

  • Electric mixer, large mixing bowl, medium mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, spatula, 2 medium loaf pans (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches each)
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Servings: 16
Kosher Key: Dairy
  • Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Cut the butter into small chunks and place in a large mixing bowl along with the sugar and brown sugar. Use an electric mixer to beat together the butter and sugar for a few minutes. Make sure the butter is fully integrated into the sugar and the mixture becomes small, even sized crumbs.
  • Add the eggs and applesauce to the bowl and continue to mix till smooth.
  • In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork till smooth. Add the mashed bananas, Greek yogurt, and vanilla to the bowl. Use a spatula to stir the mixture till smooth.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and nutmeg. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet to make a thick batter. Don't over mix-- a few lumps are okay.
  • Fold in the chopped walnuts.
  • Grease two loaf pans with nonstick cooking oil spray. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.
  • Bake the banana bread for 45-55 minutes, turning once halfway through baking, till the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. If the top of the bread browns faster than it bakes, cover with foil for the remainder of baking time.
  • Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes in their pans, then put them on a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Serve warm... with tea, perhaps, or a pat of melty butter. This bread is so comforting, a wonderful baked treat to have on hand for unexpected guests. Wrap in plastic wrap or foil to keep moist; store in the refrigerator if you will be keeping it longer than a few days.

Comments (126)Post a Comment

    1. YOU are so special! Of all your recipes you are the best treat. You are indeed a blessing. It’s after 4 a.m. and I am up as I suffer with severe chronic pain and enjoyed your story about the dove so much. You are an inspiration. May all the blessings you extend to others return to you tenfold. Wishing you endless joy.

  1. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I’ve made banana bread with all butter, yummy. I’ve made it with all apple sauce, tastes good, but too dense. Reverted back to the all butter. I can’t wait to try this lighter version!

    1. Kari, I think you will find that this provides a nice balance. I couldn’t resist adding a bit of butter in there, but the Greek yogurt and applesauce combo really does lighten it up. Let me know how you like it!

  2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Banana bread is a favorite in our house – love the lightened-up version. I lightened up a fresh fruit crisp this morning – my biggest critic and fan – my daughter – gave it a thumbs up!

    Great meeting you this past weekend.

  3. What a lovely story.

    I can’t wait to try your banana bread recipe! I am a huge fan of swapping yogurt and applesauce for fat when baking. This is just my cupid tea.

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    What a beautiful story! It’s great to know that there are people out there who care.
    And the banana cake is just my type – the bananas over here aren’t great in the summer so I’ll wait with trying this one out until the fall, please God.
    Have a wonderful week!

  5. You are such a gentle soul! Each time I cook from your recipes I am reminded to embrace all that is right with the world and to spread love when and where I can.
    Thanks for your thoughtfulness.

    1. So happy you all enjoyed this story! I wasn’t exactly sure how to connect it to anything that I’ve cooked, but I really wanted to tell it because it’s been on my mind for weeks. Thank you for reading!

  6. Have you read The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman yet? It’s an insightful, historical novel about the lives of four women in ancient Israel.
    Looking foward to trying this recipe, as I have never made a quick bread with both applesauce and yogurt before.

    1. Hi Jayne! No, I haven’t read The Dovekeepers yet, but it is on my must read list. Masada is one of my favorite places in the world, and if we’re thinking of the same book, I believe the story takes place there. I’m thinking of taking it on my next trip when I have some time for pleasure reading.

  7. Love this version. I collect banana bread recipes and didn’t have this one although I do have one that uses unsweetened applesauce, one for yogurt, one for sour cream, etc. I haven’t used nutmeg in one either but I can imagine it would add to the flavor. Thank you!

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I loved your story of helping the little dove. And yes it does reminds we are all connected. Your banana bread recipe sounds wonderful, I can’t wait to try it. I always get so much more from your blog than just recipes.

  9. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This banana bread is delicious. I made it to give as a gift, and fortunately it makes two…one to keep!
    Love your recipes and essays.

  10. Awe, what a sweet story. We’re also animal lovers who wake up to the enthusiastic kisses of an 20 lb. furball ready to run out and chase her ball. Love the lightened up banana bread, too. Now I just need a cup of tea!

    1. Hey, thanks DB! Yes, you’re remembering correctly, I used to appear on ABC 7Live there as a food guest. Unfortunately 7Live has been cancelled (too bad, it was a terrific show), but I do hope to line up more gigs in the Bay Area soon. :)

  11. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    What a wonderful hostess you were to that dove, Tori! I’m sure it was happy to be in your backyard :-) Thank you for this low-fat banana nut bread! I’ve been trying to figure out how to make lower-caloried versions. And guess what? I’ve got many ripe bananas! Hope you’re having a lovely weekend; the weather in So Cal is AMAZEBALLS this weekend!

  12. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    What a wonderful story and gorgeous recipe. The story really did steal my heart. I’m such an animal lover also and caring after others is such a wonderful feeling. Definitely goIng to try this recipe!
    Rache, xo

  13. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    What a pleasant surprise this recipe was. I made it this morning and I was a little skeptical given how little butter is used, but I had a big container of nonfat Greek yogurt that needed to be used. I managed to get 2 mini-loaves (done at 30 min.) and 1 regular loaf. I added mini choc chips to the big loaf and the kids really enjoyed the addition. Also, in keeping with the healthy theme, I substituted white whole wheat flour–about 1 c.–for the some of the all purpose. This banana bread is indeed moist with just the right sweetness. Thank you so much for a healthier alternative that tastes just as delicious as the full fat version.

  14. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    What a yummy recipe! My hubby is intolerant to apple sauce as he is fructose intolerant…. is there anything I can replace it with? Thanks so much for the recipe!

  15. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    just made this. we can’t do walnut so i threw in chocolate chips and some nutella. i’m making them into mini muffins. they are making my house smell FANTASTIC!! if the end product is half as god as the batter this will be my goto banana bread recipe! Thanks!!!

  16. What a lovely story you wrote about the dove. Thank you for caring for animals and for being so kind to an injured wild bird. I look forward to trying your banana bread recipe.


  17. This was an awesome recipe! I have never been successful with making a lowfat banana bread recipe, and I followed yours (being careful especially not to overmix), and it came out as close to perfect as I have ever made. I made one loaf, and 12 muffins.

  18. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Without a doubt this is the best banana bread I have ever made/tasted ! Follwed the recipe exactly and it is wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Your story of the mourning dove brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful that she came by to say ‘thanks’. It’s nice what you did for her and the world would be a better place if more people cared for animals and others the way you did for that little dove.

  20. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Hi..this looked great but for some reason it came out edible but kind of rubbery it supposed to be that moist? Edges were browned and I didnt see turn it over til later so did after it was baked and put it in at 350 for 10 min as well as baked it 10 min longer. Im sure I put in the flour..what could it be..used 2 over ripe bananas and one not over ripe. tastes good but kind of rubbery..not sure if its ok or not.

    1. Hi Ruth, a rubbery texture is usually the result of overmixing the cake batter. Try not mixing the cake batter as much next time. Did you use all purpose white flour? When you used the bananas, did you weigh them? They should equal 1 lb. total– larger bananas would make the cake over-moist. It is supposed to be a very moist cake, but it shouldn’t be rubbery.

  21. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I made this and it was really yummy! I put nuts on top so it looked really pretty. I also replaced some of the white flour with wheat. May add some frozen berries today but not too many so it isn’t soggy.

  22. I stumbled upon your recipe looking for a banana bread recipe that uses Greek yogurt. Right off the bat I got my measurements wrong, throwing in a whole quarter stick of butter. (A little spacey today due to a cold) Then I proceeded to double all the ingredients in the recipe to fix this problem, but decided to get creative and also threw in a quarter cup of orange rum.
    I love to cook and cook quite a bit, so I’m hoping this works out. It still turned out to be two loaves in 9 by 11 inch pans. I’ll let you know how it tastes.

  23. Love the dove story! Sounds like something we would do :)

    I want to make this right now and was wondering if it is okay to use yogurt that’s a little ‘sour’, not fresh? I think it’s fine since it is baking for so long, but I still wanted your opinion! Don’t want to throw it out!

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