New Kitchen Tradition: Banana Bread Granola

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A note from Maggie

I have a pile of no less than eight bananas on my counter. I don’t know how I’ve come to this place but, here I am. I was going to make Banana Bread but I’m tempted to dehydrate a few instead for Katherine’s family granola recipe. This Banana Bread Granola will no doubt fill a room with a scent akin to Banana Bread, but not quite. I’m going to stir it a little less to let large clumps form, because I’m a big clump kinda lady. Either way, you’re going to love this cane-sugar-free recipe.

Too many spots. It was an unspoken rule. When the bananas had too many spots they were turned into banana bread. No matter the kitchen – my mother’s, my aunt’s, my grandmother’s – the bananas were, without question, carefully separated from their unsightly peels and mashed unceremoniously in a big bowl with an egg or two and a heap of sugar. We’d gather round, three generations of women each somehow in agreement without ever speaking a word about it, adding this and that to the bowl. Like a strange ritual that you never discussed, we carried on other conversations about life, school, babies, and such, only breaking the oath to deliberate the amount of cinnamon. No one really knew the recipe, there was no batter-stained card to reference, and so life just continued as we made this bread together.

Now in my own kitchen, we make far less banana bread, mainly because there’s never enough time for the spots to form before my daughter eats them. But we do have our own sort of ritual recipe that isn’t really a recipe, but more of a list that changes with the ebb and flow of life. A pinch of this and handful of that, a recipe that takes on whatever flavors you want from life in that moment. You stand by the oven as it bakes, stirring it every few minutes, and so it warms you and your kitchen company, whoever that may be, stoking the conversation. Now in my own kitchen, when the giant glass Mason jar that houses rolled oats falls far below acceptable, we make granola. There’s no discussion, just a hushed gathering of ingredients, whatever is on hand, a cupful of nuts, spoons of various seeds, and honey instead of sugar. And if we’ve eaten all the bananas, we break out the banana chips, deliberate about the amount of cinnamon, and stir it all together.

This recipe is my basic granola formula with a few additions – walnuts, cinnamon, and banana chips – that make it taste and smell just like banana bread.

Banana Bread Granola

Makes: 4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • 1 cup banana chips, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tablespoons bee pollen

Directions:

  1. Set the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, walnuts, and all the seeds.
  3. In small container, mix together the honey, coconut oil, and vanilla. Pour this mixture over the contents of the larger bowl, folding with a spatula to thoroughly coat. Turn out onto a large, unlined sheet pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with cinnamon and salt.
  4. Place the sheet pan in the middle of the oven and bake, stirring every ten minutes, for 25 to 30 minutes or until the oats are a deep, golden brown.
  5. While the granola is still hot, add the cacao nibs, banana chips, shredded coconut, and bee pollen, gently folding to combine. Let the mixture cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container.
  6. Ideal sprinkled over yogurt or smoothie bowls; substituted for cereal and paired with coconut or almond milk; or just eaten as a quick snack right from the jar.
Photos styled and taken by Katherine Hysmith.

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