Reduced Guilt Cinnamon Rolls – Banana, Wheat and Pecans, Yum!

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A delicious and satisfying cinnamon roll – this reduced guilt version has more fiber from the whole wheat, natural sweetness and flavor from bananas, and a pecan crunch.

A few years ago, a friend graciously helped us out with taxi service for one of our 4 a.m. flights back to the bush. After dropping us off by the ticket counter, he disappeared and quickly reappeared laden with Cinnabon cinnamon rolls for all three of us. How sweet, right? Really, how sweet! I’ve always thought there must be a way to create a cinnamon roll with lots of flavor and sweetness, but not so much sweetness that when you’ve finished eating it, you feel gut-bombed. Sorry, Cinnabon. This banana-wheat creation did the trick. The dough gets moistness and flavor from smashed bananas. The swirl of banana slices, cinnamon, sugar and nuts give you that tasty, satisfying, fun unwrapping and unrolling experience that we expect from eating a cinnomon roll. And the drizzle of glaze on the top gives a sweet Pow you’d expect on traditional cinnamon rolls without overloading them. So, go ahead and enjoy a healthier version of this breakfast treat today!

Banana Wheat Pecan Cinnamon Rolls


  • 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 cup milk (any kind of milk will work)
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, separated
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, separated
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup sliced bananas
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 chopped pecans


  1. Place yeast and 1 tbsp of granulated sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Warm milk and 2 tbsp butter to 105 degrees F (40 degrees C).
  3. Stir milk mixture into yeast mixture and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  4. Mix in mashed banana and salt.
  5. Mix in flours, 1/2 cup at a time. Dough should be sticky.
  6. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for another minute.
  7. Place dough in a bowl lightly coated with light oil, like canola. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size, about an hour.
  8. Grease an 8×8 square pan (or equivalent round). Set aside.
  9. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a long rectangle which is about 1/4 inch thick (about 6 mm).
  10. Melt 4 tbsp butter. Mix in remaining sugar and cinnamon.
  11. Brush dough with butter mixture. Evenly sprinkle chopped pecans over dough. Evenly spread out banana slices over dough.
  12. Roll dough jelly-roll style. Make sure the seam side is down. Slice the dough log into 10 pieces with a serrated knife.
  13. Place cut pieces in the prepared pan. Brush the rolls with remaining melted butter. Sprinkle additional sugar and nuts on top, if desired.
  14. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let rise again while you preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  15. Bake rolls for 25-35 minutes. They should be slightly golden brown.
  16. Let cool slightly and serve warm.
  17. These rolls are delicious without glaze. If you need a glaze, you can make one quickly by mixing 1 cup powdered sugar with a couple of tsp of milk (glaze should be consistency of honey). Drizzle glaze over rolls.

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