BANANA BREAD GRANOLA BARS

{vegan + GF} banana bread granola bars! // the first mess{vegan + GF} banana bread granola bars! // the first mess{vegan + GF} banana bread granola bars! // the first mess
We’re going to New York this weekend! Just a tiny sliver of a thought about that makes my insides glow. The first trip Mark and I ever took as an item was to that fine city in late September. We were seeing the last Pavement show (probably) ever, staying at a guy’s apartment in Bushwick that had jeans in the freezer and a replica of Max’s wolf suit from Where The Wild Things Are hanging in the bedroom. I got to eat every and any high-vibe food I could have ever dreamed of. We visited the Museum of Natural History, leaned back and said “WHOOOOOAA!!!” every time we entered a room with a different prehistoric skeleton. Surrounded by awesome at all hours, plenty of cheap wine enjoyed on rooftops.

We’ve visited a few times since. I always come back crazy-inspired in ways that I didn’t even know were lurking below my standard level of awareness. Although our relationship has progressed and changed in a lot of ways after 3 years, I know we’ll be closer and in tune to each other’s quirks a little bit more come Monday. That stuff excites me.

I made a healthy snack for you today. I love a good granola bar in terms of concept. They frequently disappoint in execution. Often too sweet, very hard dried fruit, chocolate that doesn’t taste like chocolate if you close your eyes. I had to tackle this project myself. Banana bread is this undeniably cozy, early-fall thing to me and I managed to fix some up on the weekend. I thought about using that flavour base for a granola bar, relying on the bananas for some sweetness and binding power. It totally worked! These are super easy to fix up, I promise. I just used whatever nuts and seeds I had around with some pinches of cinnamon and sea salt. The chocolate drizzling is very key. Also, I incorporated caramel-y brown rice syrup for extra stick-together powers, because you know what good granolas do? They stick together :)

Big hugs to all of you this week. xoxo

brown rice syrup // the first messhazelnuts // the first mess{vegan + GF} banana bread granola bars! // the first messchocolate for drizzlin' // the first mess{vegan + GF} banana bread granola bars! // the first mess
BANANA BREAD GRANOLA BARS RECIPE (vegan & GF)
Print the recipe here!
SERVES: makes 16 bars
NOTES: In retrospect, my bananas could have been riper. Also, I blend the bananas up with all of the other liquid components for maximum integration. You could just mash them up real nice and whisk the other wet ingredients in for simplicity. I find whole nuts make for harder-to-cut finished bars–chop them on the smaller side. Lastly, I’ll add that this is more of a soft/chewy granola bar as opposed to a crispy/crunchy vibe. Maybe try toasting your oats in a 350 oven for 10 minutes or so before stirring them into the bar mixture to help with crunchiness.

bars:
3 very ripe, regulation-sized bananas, peeled
3 tbsp almond butter (any nut or seed butter you love will do)
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
1-2 tbsp maple syrup (optional!)
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil + extra for greasing the pan
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3 cups rolled oats (make sure they’re certified GF if need be)
1 1/4 cup chopped nuts + seeds (I used toasted hazelnuts, raw walnuts + black sesame seeds)
1/4-1/2 cup chopped dried fruit/dairy-free chocolate chips/cacao nibs (I went with chippers + cacao nibs)

chocolate drizzle:
1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
splash of almond milk
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×11″ or an 8×12″ pan with coconut oil. Lay a piece of parchment into the pan (with overhang on the sides) and grease that with more coconut oil. Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, combine the bananas, almond butter, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon and sea salt. Pulse or blend until a homogenous and creamy mixture is achieved. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, chopped nuts, seeds, chocolate chips etc. Stir to mix. Add the creamy banana mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Scrape the granola bar mix into the prepared pan. Smooth the mix out, pressing down with a flat surface (measuring cup, spatula) until the mix has evenly filled the pan. Bake the bars for 40 minutes or until golden on the edges/top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool thoroughly on a rack.

Once completely cool, lift the bars out of the pan with the overhanging parchment onto a cutting board. If you still feel residual heat emitting from the bars, allow them to cool down on the rack some more. Once ready, cut the slab right down the middle lengthwise. From here, cut the two halves into 8 bars each.

In a double boiler/non-reactive pan set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, combine the chocolate drizzle ingredients. Stir constantly with a spatula until chocolate is melted and a sauce forms. Drizzle over the cut granola bars. Refrigerate bars until chocolate is solidified, about 30 minutes. Keep the bars in a sealed container for about a week.

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