Chewy on the inside, slightly crispy on the edges, and super satisfying? Enter Banana-Sweetened Granola Bars!
Bananas are one of the fruits our family always buys in bulk. I’m not talking about a couple of bunches here and there. We buy bananas by the case at our local store. I’m always reminded about how ridiculous the amount of bananas we eat every week is when our friends come over. Their first reaction when they walk into the kitchen is “what do you do with all those bananas?” Well, If I’m lucky enough to get overripe bananas, I freeze them. I’m saying lucky because they’re usually on sale when they are overripe.
If you’re going to use them for a smoothie, slice them into smaller pieces. Trust me – I have several friends who burnt out their blenders by blending large pieces of bananas. Then line a baking sheet with parchment paper and line up the bananas in a single layer. This is important. Sometimes I’m freezing a big batch of bananas and don’t feel like doing all this prep work. But then I need to use a hammer to get them apart afterwards. I don’t actually use a hammer; I just smash them against the counter as hard as I can and it usually does the trick. Then I peel them off of the parchment paper, put them in a zipper freezer bag, and pop them back in the freezer until ready to use.
If you’re going to use them in baking, freezing larger pieces might be a better option. It’s way easier to judge what a whole banana is – which is what most recipes call for – when you freeze big chunks. Bananas are a fantastic sweetener, an egg replacer, and a fat substitute, especially in breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, pancakes, and waffles. You can substitute:
- 1 cup of sugar for 1 cup of mashed bananas (you’ll need to cut down on the moisture in your recipe by using less milk or water)
- an egg with 1/4 cups of mashed banana
- 1 cup of oil for 1/2 – 3/4 cup of mashed bananas (the lighter the baked goods, the less bananas you’ll need)
And this is where the Banana-Sweetened Granola Bars come in. I was half way through making my go-to brown rice syrup granola bars when I realized I had no brown rice syrup on hand. Don’t you hate when this happens? I can usually just run over to my neighbor’s house and ask for what I need, but unfortunately brown rice syrup isn’t one of those staples everyone has in their pantry. Well, bananas to the rescue.
I was a little hesitant about using bananas both as a sweetener and the only binding agent, but it worked great. These Banana-Sweetened Granola Bars are chewy on the inside, slightly crispy on the edges, and super satisfying. As you can see, they’re also vegan and gluten-free (if you use certified gluten-free oats).