I’m a huge fan of tasty homemade granola. But I’ve always wanted an option that I could make this without adding in sugar and oil. So, when I created a batch of Pumpkin Spice Granola in the fall of last year, I was surprised to discover that the fruit puree could act as a binder, similar to sugar and oil in granolas traditionally made. So, I decided to play with this idea more and came up with the No Sugar Added Banana Nut Granola.
To make the Banana Nut Granola, I made a mixture of mashed bananas and unsweetened apple sauce that acts as a binder. As the granola cooks, the purees of the fruits are dehydrated and help create gorgeously crunch chunks. Perfect! Instead of adding an enormous amount of oil, use a simple peanut butter. The peanut butter makes the food crisp and gives it a wonderfully sweet, nutty taste (banana+peanut=YUM). Also, I added a bit of coconut shredded unsweetened for additional texture and flavor and sprinkled in a handful of banana chips in the final.
This results in a delicious, nuanced granola with an ethereal hint of sweetness that is natural; however, it’s definitely not a sweet granola like the kind you buy off the shelves. If a person in your household enjoys sweet granola, just make their bowl more personalized with an easy sprinkle in honey (honey+PB=YUM). In my opinion, a handful of chocolate chips added at the end isn’t an unwise choice either. Absolutely not a bad idea.
Two bananas with and mashed (about 1 cup) ($0.51)
1 cup unsweetened apple cider ($0.79)
1 cup of Natural peanut butter ($0.93)
1 tsp cinnamon ($0.10)
1 tsp vanilla extract ($0.28)
1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
6 cups old-fashioned oatmeal rolled ($0.99)
1 cup of unsweetened coconut shredded* ($0.91)
1 cup banana chips* ($0.92)
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Mash the bananas using a fork until they’re smooth (a small amount of chunks is fine). Measure the banana mash and then add enough apple unsweetened sauce to make 2 cups (about 1 cup each).
Place the apple and banana sauce inside a tiny saucepan together with peanut butter the, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. Stir and cook on the stove at a low temperature for five minutes to ensure that the ingredients are evenly incorporated and warm (this will make it more runny and easy to mix with oatmeal).
Add the dry oats as well as the coconut shredded to a large bowl. Add the apple and banana sauce, as well as the peanut butter mix over oats and coconut, after which you stir until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. There shouldn’t be any leftover clumps of oats that are dry.
Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Then, place the oatmeal mixture evenly over the parchment, but not greater than 1 inch thick. If the amount is too large to fit on one baking sheet, you can divide the oat mixture into two sheets.
The granola is baked in a 300-degree oven for between one and a half hours. Stirring it once every 30 minutes and then every 15 minutes following that**. The baking time will differ based on whether you bake it on one or more baking sheets. Make sure you watch the granola and stir it once every 15 minutes toward the end. The granola is done when it’s crisp as well as golden brown. Let the granola cool completely. Chop pieces of banana into smaller pieces and then mix them in the mixture. Keep the granola cool in an airtight container.