May 25, 2016 2 Comments


This Hummingbird Protein Cake is inspired by a classic summer dessert in the South. Basically, Hummingbird Cake is a super-rich banana cake with chunks of pineapple, often smothered in cream cheese frosting, pecans, and shredded coconut. So yummy! However, the traditional recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar and 1 ½ cups of oil… so of course, I decided to come up with a lower-fat, low-sugar, protein-packed version (you know how I do). And guess what? It still tastes amazing!


Protein substitutions

To up the protein content, I replaced some of the flour with Quest Protein Powder in Vanilla Milkshake, a whey protein blend. This product combines whey isolate and casein and is just excellent for baking. However, you should be able to substitute a whey concentrate or soy isolate in this recipe. I cannot promise the result with other types of protein powder. Another flavor like cinnamon would also work well!

Flour substitutions

I also used coconut flour instead of cake flour or all-purpose flour to lower the carbs. If you’d prefer not to use coconut flour, just substitute twice as much (⅔ cup) of all-purpose flour, cake flour, gluten-free baking flour, fine oat flour, white sorghum flour, or cassava flour in this recipe.


Sweetener substitutions

The sweetener I use for is Pyure Organic Stevia Blend, a calorie-free blend of stevia and erythritol. I find it tastes much better than baking stevia or stevia extract and has no bitter aftertaste. It also doesn’t give the weird cooling sensation of pure erythritol (at least I don’t notice anything). That being said, feel free to substitute twice as much (two-thirds cup) of granulated sugar, baking stevia, granulated monk fruit, or granulated erythritol if you prefer!


Other substitutions

Instead of oil, I used unsweetened applesauce to lower the fat content. You can totally substitute oil for a more traditional-tasting cake if you don’t mind the added fat. Of course, you know there’s banana and pineapple in there! I used three very ripe mashed bananas and a cup of crushed pineapple for that classic “hummingbird” flavor.

The cream cheese frosting

The frosting is a simple cream cheese protein frosting made with Neufchatel cream cheese (can sub reduced fat cream cheese, fat free cream cheese, or whipped cream cheese ounce for ounce). It also calls for nonfat plain Greek yogurt, half a scoop of vanilla protein, sweetener, and a tiny bit of pure almond extract.

The almond extract is optional, but oh so good and highly recommended! Feel free to substitute dairy-free cream cheese for the cream cheese and Greek yogurt (ounce for ounce) if you need a dairy-free version! Of course, you’d also want to swap the whey blend for a vanilla plant-based protein blend.


Here’s the printable recipe for this Hummingbird Protein Cake! I’d love your comments below if you try it 😉

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Hummingbird Protein Cake

This hummingbird protein cake has rich banana, crushed pineapple, spices and pecans with a cream cheese frosting. Low in fat, carbs and sugar, gluten-free.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 143kcal


  • 3/4 cup (90g) vanilla whey blend protein powder* I used Quest brand in Vanilla Milkshake
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour*
  • 1/3 cup calorie-free sweetener* I used one that's twice as sweet as sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice optional
  • 1 1/2 cup (3 medium) over-ripe bananas mashed
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple with juice
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce or oil
  • 1/4 cup (2 large) egg whites
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) Neufchatel cheese* or fat free or reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz.) nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 20 g vanilla whey blend protein powder* optional
  • 1/4 cup calorie-free sweetener* I used one that's twice as sweet as sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. almond extract optional
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans optional


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Whisk together dry ingredients (through spices) in a large mixing bowl.
  • Mash bananas, and combine with wet ingredients (through vanilla extract) in a separate bowl, mixing until smooth.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients until no clumps remain.
  • Lightly spray a nonstick loaf plan with cooking spray or line with parchment.
  • Pour batter into baking pan(s) and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted comes out clean. You can also use two 6" round pans (reduce baking time by 10 minutes), or one bundt pan (reduce time by 5 minutes).
  • While cake cools, combine frosting ingredients (except pecans) and mix until smooth.
  • Spread frosting over top of cake and sides with remaining frosting.
  • Sprinkle with pecans (optional). You may wish to garnish with unsweetened coconut, too!
  • Cut into six slices and enjoy! Leftovers will keep in the fridge in an airtight container at least a week, or in the freezer at least a month.


Calories (per serving, including optional ingredients): 143kcal, Fat: 5.4g, Sat fat: 2.6g, Carbs: 14g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 7g, Protein: 10g, Sodium: 207mg

2 Responses

Sarah Wilkins
Sarah Wilkins

July 15, 2023

Hi FW – glad this was a suitable alternative that was able to satisfy your hummingbird cake craving ;)


July 15, 2023

Maybe not quite as yummy as the real thing, but definitely worth it for the protein and fiber rich alternative with way fewer calories. Thanks for the recipe!! 😊

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