Crispy Banana Granola

I'm about to move to a new Chicago flat.  You know that point in packing where you realize there are far too many bananas in your freezer? I hit that point.  Of course the first thought was to make banana bread for everyone I know.  However, I had already used my flour stash, and want to avoid buying any more bulk items until I am stocking my new kitchen.

The solution? Granola! I added in whatever ingredients were in my pantry, which turned out to make a delicious granola while taking care of dwindling bags of nuts and seeds.  

Though bananas are a main wet ingredient here, the banana flavor is very mild and hardly discernible.  Rather than a strong taste, they impart a subtle sweetness that blends nicely with the olive oil and maple syrup for a well rounded, not too sweet breakfast staple.

Let's get going... 

Put 3 cups of oats in a large mixing bowl.

Add about 1 cup of nuts of your choice, roughly chopped.  I had some sliced almonds, some whole raw almonds, and some pecans on hand.

Add some seeds! About 1/2-1 cup of seeds of your choice here.  I finished up a bag of chia seeds, which didn't quite measure up to 1/2 cup.  It's all good... granola is perfect for finishing random bags of chia seeds.

Add your wet ingredients.  You could mix the wet items together first and then add to the dry, but I was into a one-bowl situation.  I added about 3 tbsp olive oil, 3 tbsp maple syrup, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  Eyeball it, it doesn't have to be perfect (plus then you don't have to wash measuring spoons...).

Add some salt to highlight the sweet flavor of the banana (trust me).  I added about 1/2 tsp.

Banana time.  You could mash the banana first then add, but I just tossed it all together.  Since my bananas were previously frozen, they were very soft and easy to mash.  Stir well so that there are no remaining clumps of banana, and so all ingredients are well combined and coated with the liquids.

Simply bake at 400F for 20 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes.  When finished baking, be sure to let the granola cool completely before putting it into a container.  This ensures it stays nice and crispy.

I've been enjoying my granola with almond milk and figs every morning this week.  Give it a try- it's absolutely magical. 

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