Thursday, February 13, 2014

Where have you been all my life!? Banana Nut Granola

I'm typing this after enjoying a bowl of yogurt topped with this delicious granola. I believe this is only the second time I've ever made granola although I've eaten it plenty of times. I think the reason I don't really make granola is because I don't really eat it consistently. (The first time I made granola also didn't turn out well, so I was still dealing with some trauma from that.) I'll have it once in a while on yogurt, but that's about it, so I imagined it would be tough to get through a batch of homemade granola. There's also so many kinds of granola for sale that I tend to end up picking up a bag from the store when I do want some.
For the past few months though, I've been going through one tub of yogurt after another, so I figured the granola would at least have someplace to end up. I've also been finding it difficult to find the perfect granola since I don't want anything too sweet, artificially flavored, not crunchy enough, or with too much dried fruit. The last package of store bought granola I got was terrible, so I decided to give homemade granola another go. After seeing the many delicious granola recipes on Shutterbean and reading about Tracy's love of homemade granola, I settled on the banana walnut granola since I happened to have some overripe bananas again and I'm a fan of banana flavored things in general, if you can't already tell.

Boy, have I been missing out! This granola is exactly what I wanted, loose, not overly large oat clusters, not overly sweet, crunchtastic, and made to my own specifications. I didn't have any banana chips on hand when I made this, but I mixed some in to the finished granola afterwards. I overbaked the granola a tiny bit because I was worried about the bananas affecting the crunchiness of the oats, but it still turned out fantastic. Next time, I won't worry about mashing the bananas completely smooth so the mixture isn't as wet. If you happen to have toasted nuts or coconut on hand already, just add them in towards the end of the baking time instead of mixing them with the oats. This granola is also super versatile, so substitute or add whatever you like, add dried fruit towards the end so it doesn't burn.
Banana Nut Granola
Adapted from Shutterbean
Makes about 7 cups of granola

5 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
4 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/8 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 medium-large very ripe bananas
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut, flaked or shredded, sweetened or unsweetened
1 1/2 cups banana chips

Preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Mix together the oats, nuts, flaxseed meal, and brown sugar in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mash the bananas. Mix in the maple syrup, olive oil, salt, and vanilla extract until well blended.

Pour the wet ingredients into the oat mixture and mix until the oats are all nicely coated. Spread the mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until nicely golden. With about 20 minutes left to go, mix in the coconut.

After baking, mix in the banana chips, if using, and let the granola cool on the baking sheet. It will become much crunchier after it cools. Transfer to an airtight container and enjoy as is, with milk, or  over yogurt.

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