Thursday, September 26, 2013

Banana Nut Granola Like A Warm Hug

Y'all. Does it get better than banana nut bread? Unless your answer was cheese, then no, it doesn't. I remember one afternoon when my mother was having one of those Amelia Bedelia moments and baked this amazing smelling banana bread. With salt. All salt instead of sugar. My sister and I, still grimy and sweaty right off the school bus walked into the house and went straight for a huge slice with a pat of butter and glass of milk. We both took a huge bite and simultaneously gagged for several minutes. We then spent the next 6 hours laughing, and it didn't end up being such a bad afternoon after all. Here is where banana bread grows up, starts paying taxes and tries to be a respectable and functioning adult.

Responsible yet worthy of craving by the fistful.
Inspiration for this concoction comes thanks to Pinterest and Tracy at Shutterbean.  And the almost rotten bananas in my freezer.  Don't judge.  Like my seasonal pot holders and dish rag?  Dollar General, y'all.  Let's talk ingredients.

5 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking or instant)
1 cup pecan halves
2/3 cup Craisins 
1/2 cup shelled raw hemp hearts
1/4 cup Sugar in the Raw 
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
2 very ripe bananas
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed in a bath of warm water so it's in liquid state
Additional sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Let's begin by mixing all our dry ingredients, shall we?  That would be the oats, nuts, Craisins, hemp hearts, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt.  Do this in a huge bowl.  I had a bag of Craisins in the house thanks to my sweet and beautiful soon-to-be-sister-in-law, but if you have dried cherries, they would be totally on point here.  Set aside dry ingredients.

Mash bananas with a fork and combine with maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla extract.  It should look pretty nasty.  Not to worry.

Combine the wet with the dry.  Put in some good work and a little elbow grease here.  You want those dry ingredients to get all that moisture and flavor as evenly as possible.  Fair is fair.

Dump that stirred up goodness onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Spread into an even layer with your spatula or with your hands, if that's your thing.  Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until golden brown.  It will get crispier as it cools, but if you're like me and like your granola extra crisp and toasty, feel free to leave it in the oven for a little while as the oven cools.  Just make sure to check on it periodically and give it a shake or stir.  I sprinkled mine with a little extra sea salt while it was cooling because I like my granola that way and it makes those unsalted pecans feel a little more at home.

Can you spot the gremlin?
Gremlins live for granola.
Once the granola has completely cooled, store it in a sealed container.  If I were you, I'd leave it on my counter and allow myself to feel at least a little smug. 

This should keep at room temperature for at least a couple weeks.
Breakfast this morning.  Best served with a drizzle of maple syrup and a satisfied smirk.

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