You guys, this granola is good. It's definitely the tastiest granola I've ever made. I'm so excited to tell you about it!
Just look at those clusters! Now that's what I'm talking about. This is my favorite type of granola...nutty with extra large clusters.
I forgot about granola for a long time. I know, I know, what kind of plant-based eater am I if I "forgot" about granola?! Sorry granola, I'll never forget about you again. Especially this granola. Scott and I have been gobbling it up! Every time I make it, I do it with the intent that it will last the whole week. Except it usually doesn't make it through the week. Sometimes it doesn't even make it through half the week. I've been putting it on smoothies, eating it in a cereal bowl with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, grabbing handfuls of dry granola for a morning or afternoon snack, and even topping a big granola cluster with a little dollop of peanut butter and popping it straight into my mouth (don't judge).
In addition to having the perfect texture and consistency, let me tell you what I love about this granola.
- Sweetened with ONLY fruit
- Oil free
- Plant-based protein
- Loads of fiber
Is that an all star line-up or what?! When I mentioned that I forgot about granola, it's not because I don't like it. I love it! Unfortunately, a lot of granola on the market is loaded with added sugar...and I don't love that. I talk about added sugar a lot. I talk about it with my clients, I get asked a lot of questions about added sugar through various media requests, and I watch for it when I buy products for myself.
Let's talk about this.
The term "added sugars" refers to any caloric sweetener added to a food during processing, cooking, or at the table. Sugars are found naturally in foods like plants and dairy, but people have extracted these sugars and added them to pretty much every conceivable type of processed food. Added sugars are used to enhance the flavor and texture of foods and to increase shelf life. Added sugar can lead to unwanted weight gain and is linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. High intake of added sugar is also associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress in our bodies.
We simply consume too many added sugars for our own good.
Having said that, it's important to make a distinction between added sugars and sugars as they exist in nature. Plant foods that naturally have sugar (think fruits, starchy vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains) are incredibly healthy for us to eat. Yes, they have naturally occurring sugar, but these nutrient-dense foods are filled with fiber and water, and because of that, it doesn't have the same negative physiological effects. In fact, plant foods that have naturally occurring sugar are also loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals, the properties that help fight chronic inflammation and oxidative stress in our bodies. We don't want to miss out on those!
Curious about how to detect added sugars in products you buy? Check out this article to learn more about how to spot added sugar on nutrition labels.
Thanks for nerding out with me for a minute :)
Now let's get back to this recipe! So what did I use to sweeten this granola, you ask?
Bananas and dates!
I blended together bananas and dates in my food processor, then added some natural peanut butter (without added sugar), pure vanilla extract, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Let me warn you that you will be extremely tempted to just eat this blended mixture straight up with a spoon. Let me also add that you SHOULD at least have a little spoonful for very official taste testing purposes ;)
Next, I added the banana/date mixture to a big bowl of rolled oats, walnuts, and shelled hemp seeds. Then I mixed everything together and spread it on a baking sheet before baking it in the oven. THAT'S IT!
The result was this nutty, crunchy, and perfectly sweetened granola that is deliciously addicting. Not only do I love that it is naturally sweetened, I love that it has a good amount of plant protein from the walnuts and hemp seeds. I've been on a big hemp seed kick lately. I just can't get enough!
Technically a nut, hemp seeds are very nutritious. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are often referred to as hemp hearts. Hemp seeds contain over 30% fat, and are exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids, omega-6 and omega-3 (the good kind!). They are also a great protein source, with more than 25% of their total calories coming from high-quality protein. That is considerably more than similar foods like chia seeds and flaxseeds, which provide about 16–18%.
Have I convinced you yet?
Even if you could care less about the health benefits, you should make this granola because it's just plain delicious. I'm serious, it's really, really good.
Delicious with a side of healthy...that's my kind of granola!
Nutty Banana Hemp Granola
|Makes about 6 cups|
- 2 ripe bananas
- 7 pitted Medjool dates
- 1/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 3/4 cups chopped, unsalted walnuts
- 1/2 cup hemp seeds
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees (F). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the bananas and pitted dates in a food processor and blend on high until smooth. Add the peanut butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt and blend until smooth and well combined.
- In a large bowl, toss together the oats, walnuts, and hemp seeds. Pour the banana date blend on top and mix until the oat mixture is well coated.
- Spread the mixture evenly on the lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes of baking, take the granola out of the oven and use a spatula to flip and mix the granola to ensure even baking. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. The granola should be golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature on the cookie sheet before transferring to a storage container.
*It is important to let the granola completely cool on the baking sheet. This is what will ensure the crunchy clusters!
*To keep fresh, store in a sealed glass container (I use Mason jars).