Chocolate Banana Bread from Rancho La Puerta Spa

Rancho La Puerta is a world-famous destination spa in Baja, California (Mexico)- about an hour’s drive from San Diego. I’ve wanted to visit this spa for years, imagining the luxury of a week full of exercise, relaxation and healthy eating, and devoid of internet, TV and the real world. It sits on 3,000 sunny-all-the-time acres in the mountains between the sea and the desert. Luxury spa amenities, fabulous accommodations and cooking classes in the middle of their organic farm … sounds like heaven to me.

When I found out that the spa had a cookbook available, one that focused on using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, I simply had to check it out:  Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta.   Not only did I completely fall in love with the cookbook (full of color photographs and wonderful seasonal menus), but I also discovered that it had been nominated for a 2009 James Beard Award in the Book Awards (Healthy Focus) category. Ellie Krieger’s book, The Food You Crave, won the award (have that one too!) but this one was certainly worthy of it as well.

The first recipe I made from this cookbook:  Chocolate Banana Bread.
This is a very chocolatey banana bread- more like a chocolate bread with banana accent. A small slice gives you a boost of energy and a load of healthy carbs… a good one to snack on after a long hike or a day at the park. The best news is… there’s not an ounce of butter or oil in it.

Here’s the How-To:
Prunes are used in place of the fat in this bread. Before I scare you away, let me tell you how much I hate prunes and how much I loved this bread. You cannot taste the prunes at all- I promise! They simply act as a fat-replacer and moistener in this loaf, and it really works! The prunes are boiled until soft and then pureed with ripe bananas. The pureed mixture is mixed with eggs, whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda.
Banana chips and chocolate chips are mixed in. If you have a health food market with bulk bins available to you, that’s the best place to pick up a handful of banana chips.
The resulting batter will be very thick.
See how absolutely chocolatey this turns out? It looks evil, doesn’t it? The loaf is cut into 8 thick slices and then cut in half to make 16 servings. You’d be surprised how big a serving size is. The bread is dense and filling (and definitely satisfies any chocolate craving that you might be having!) Each serving is 162 calories, 5.5 grams of fat  (& 4.5 Weight Watcher’s points).   Not too bad, huh?

The bread was a big hit in our house… even with the ones who aren’t so health conscious. My husband noted that he couldn’t tell that there was anything different at all about the bread… didn’t note the prunes or the whole wheat flour, or the missing fat. (Good to know).

I’m still hoping someday to visit Rancho La Puerta myself, but at $3 to $4 thousand per week, it’s a luxury that might have to wait! I’ve heard they offer day trips too… and that might be a more likely scenario for me at this point!

This recipe can be found HERE.
Check out the cookbook too– it’s a good one…

45 Responses to “Chocolate Banana Bread from Rancho La Puerta Spa”

  1. postedMay 6, 2009 2:52 AM

    I love to bake with bananas and combined with chocolate and I am in eating heaven. It looks fantastic and is on my list, I need a new choc banana bread recipe.

  2. postedMay 6, 2009 3:01 AM

    A spa with cooking classes sounds like heaven to me too! The bread looks moist and delicious!

  3. postedMay 6, 2009 4:28 AM

    Wow – this bread looks fantastic! I would have thought it had cups and cups of oil and butter from the pictures. I was not expecting such a rich, chocolaty looking bread from the title of the post. Thanks for sharing this recipe!!!

  4. postedMay 6, 2009 4:44 AM

    This is going into my “must make” file! Your pictures are great! I like slicing it and then cutting it in half. I usually ignore the “16 servings” in recipes…I’d never cut the bread that thin! 😉

  5. postedMay 6, 2009 5:30 AM

    I love bananas and chocolate together! Will be trying this one!

  6. postedMay 6, 2009 5:53 AM

    Hi! This looks wonderful! I use prunes and dates A LOT in cooking due to their natural sweetness and because they are so moist. What a great recipe. Ohhh, cannot wait to try it out! Lily

  7. postedMay 6, 2009 6:00 AM

    Wonderful! Just loved it!
    Well done Lori!

  8. postedMay 6, 2009 6:15 AM

    Look so moit and delicous.
    I love the dark colour of the cake too and the nuts are like studs 🙂

  9. postedMay 6, 2009 6:29 AM

    This looks sinfully good and I’m not at all scared by prunes. I’d ssay this bread will be totally addicting! YUM!

  10. postedMay 6, 2009 6:31 AM

    Now this looks AMAZING! It is printing out as we speak~ I’m gonna make this for my exercise class party. I love prunes already, but couldn’t imagine it paired with Chocolate. Awesome recipe post!

  11. postedMay 6, 2009 6:35 AM

    Wow, the bread looks rich and delicious. I want that book, and I want to visit the spa!

  12. postedMay 6, 2009 6:40 AM

    That looks great! I really should make something like this for my husband, he loves chocolate!

  13. postedMay 6, 2009 6:48 AM

    Wow! So decadent looking and only 162 calories- I can’t wait to make this!

  14. postedMay 6, 2009 8:08 AM

    Delicious! This looks so evil…but only 162 calories? I want some right now.

  15. postedMay 6, 2009 9:00 AM

    That looks like my kind of treat! I love how it’s healthy, too. Makes having it taste like an indulgence when it’s not over-the-top in calories!

  16. postedMay 6, 2009 10:08 AM

    this looks phenomenal! can’t wait to try it!

  17. postedMay 6, 2009 9:21 AM

    Oh does that look good. Chocolate and bananas – what a great combo! Looks so moist too!

  18. postedMay 6, 2009 9:35 AM

    That looks so good!!! Sadly I had no prunes in the house so I had to use the bananas in ice cream…I know poor me! I have bookmarked this and will buy some prunes special for this!!!

  19. postedMay 6, 2009 10:55 AM

    Wow! this looks freaking amazing! Thanks for sharing–this one’s going right on the to-do list.

  20. postedMay 6, 2009 12:33 PM

    Lori that bread looks so good! I am actually a big fan of prunes, so have no issues with throwing them in there. This is definitely something I’ll have to try (though I may swap the banana chips for some candied ginger a-la Orangette’s banana bread recipe). Thanks for sharing!

  21. postedMay 6, 2009 11:50 AM

    Love the intense and dark color of this banana bread.. difficult to maintain the line with it but the Rancho will help 🙂


  22. postedMay 6, 2009 11:57 AM

    AMAZING! I am definitely going to try this. I am always dying to find healthy chocolatey goodness!

  23. postedMay 6, 2009 12:08 PM

    A good recipe to start with. It looks so chocolatey and moist, can’t believe it’s made without any butter or oil. Yummy!

  24. postedMay 6, 2009 2:49 PM

    This bread looks soo decadent! I almost didn’t want to click on the picture because I figured it would be a 1000 calories a slice and I would be too tempted to make it! I’m so glad I did because I am definitely making this!

  25. postedMay 6, 2009 3:26 PM

    This looks absolutely divine. Thanks for the prune caveat! 🙂

  26. postedMay 6, 2009 4:27 PM

    whoa! that looks and sounds so rich, decadent and amazing!!

  27. postedMay 6, 2009 4:30 PM

    I love prunes but have never baked with them, that loaf looks incredible, so dark and moist!

  28. postedMay 6, 2009 4:41 PM

    Wow! That looks amazing but more importantly I am dying to go to Rancho La Puerta. It sounds like an amazing place. There was an article in the L.A. Times about it some time last year. Thanks for the recipe.

  29. postedMay 6, 2009 5:41 PM

    What an amazing treat!

  30. postedMay 6, 2009 5:00 PM

    Banana bread from Baja? I never would have thought. But, dang! that looks outrageously good!

  31. postedMay 6, 2009 10:21 PM

    WOW! That looks AmAzInG.

  32. postedMay 7, 2009 5:30 AM

    I love chocolate and I love banana bread, so this is a perfect recipe! It looks absolutely delicious. 🙂

  33. postedMay 7, 2009 6:31 AM

    evil is an understatement!!!

  34. postedMay 7, 2009 1:48 PM

    I, too have had fantasies of a vacation like that! One where you go away and come back a revived and ready to face the world person. Until then, I’m still playing the lottery!

    Can I just tell you that I am totally going to make this, so much so, that I might have to go to the store tonight to get the prunes!

    I don’t get scared with ingredients like that, I just like that it has no eggs, or oil/butter.


  35. postedMay 7, 2009 1:12 PM

    wow this looks sooooo chocolatey! and i’ve been dying to go to Rancho La Puerto Spa forever!

  36. postedMay 7, 2009 3:03 PM

    I love using dates and bananas in baking, tastes sinfully rich but it’s good for ya stuff! Your bread looks absolutely amazing!

  37. postedMay 7, 2009 4:43 PM

    This sounds sooo good! Although I must admit, I’d rather eat it at the La Puerta Spa than make it myself!

  38. postedMay 7, 2009 7:08 PM

    Wow! This really looks delicious! I love banana bread, but have never had it with chocolate – I will have to give this recipe a try. I sounds great!

  39. postedMay 8, 2009 7:34 AM

    I’ve seen chocolate frosted banana bread but never this! This looks amazing!

  40. postedMay 8, 2009 7:41 AM

    Ah, I love prunes (then again it’s not easy to find something I hate)– I think I would add some more in chopped-up form, lol 🙂 Looks so deep and moist and delicious!

  41. postedMay 13, 2009 8:53 AM

    It looks delicious.

  42. postedMay 15, 2009 7:44 PM
    Just a Girl

    Oh it looks so dense and luscious, it sure does Recipe girl, I love coming to your site, so bright and vibrant.

  43. postedMay 28, 2009 7:47 AM

    This looks decadent! Great photos!

  44. postedMay 30, 2009 8:47 PM

    I love chocolate and bananas and the bread looked sinfully delicious, so I tried out the recipe. While it didn’t taste like prunes, the bread itself was very disappointing. It was spongy, bitter from the cocoa powder and/or not enough sugar and not very appetizing. I have tried other recipes from your website and have good experiences, but this loaf went into the trash.

  45. postedJun 7, 2009 1:14 PM

    Looks amazing!

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