Banana Nut Bread Granola Bars – January #ImprovChallenge (#glutenfree)

“Daddy, are you hungry?”  “Yes, I am hungry.”  “Are you gonna have a baaaarrr?”  “Yes, I am going to have a bar.”  “Can I have some?”  “Yes, I’ll save you a bite.”  “Can I have the one with chocolate?”  Ugh!!

Banana Nut Bread Granola Bars - the flavors of banana nut bread in an easy on-the-go breakfast or snack | cupcakesandkalechips.com #granolabars #glutenfree #vegan #bananas #snackThis is the first father/son conversation of the day any day that The Hubby has not already left for work or the gym by the time The Bug wakes up.  I have helped The Hubby improve some of his eating habits, but the one thing I cannot change and so have give up trying is his daily breakfast of Clif and/or Zone bars.  I’ve suggested oatmeal, offered to make some nice yogurt and fruit, heck, I buy whole wheat English muffins and peanut butter.  Heck, we even have cereal in the house.  But he wants his bars.  He just has no interest in sitting for even 10 minutes to eat breakfast.  I know he is usually running out the door during the week, and he also wants something filling in case his morning is full of meetings, but even on the weekends, this is his usual breakfast, with the occasional break for some toast or something.

And if The Bug sees him, he always wants some too.  I don’t protest a bite or two or three, especially since 5 or 6 days a week, he has plain yogurt with fruit and nuts or chia seeds or flax seeds or something like that, and it is actually to the point where he considers oatmeal or cream of wheat a “treat” and pancakes are super-special.  But I would prefer to give him some bars that are a bit more wholesome, and don’t have weird things like some of these protein or energy bars.  So I am working a a mini-repertoire of granola bar recipes.  I loved the sound of these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars from Two Peas & Their Pod, and used this recipe as the basis for my Maple Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars, and then just switched it up again for this recipe.  I like how they are dense but chewy.   As I mentioned last time, you want to pack the mixture pretty tightly into the pan, don’t overbake, and, especially with the banana in these, if you aren’t going to eat them right away, keep them in the fridge.  I have them individually wrapped, then put them all in a big storage bag.

Banana Nut Bread Granola Bars - the flavors of banana nut bread in an easy on-the-go breakfast or snack | cupcakesandkalechips.com #granolabars #glutenfree #vegan #bananas #snack

These are not overly sweet, so if you like them sweeter or don’t have super-ripe bananas. then you may want to use a little more honey or agave nectar.  And, naturally, you could switch up the nuts, or even throw in some chocolate chips or raisins.  But to me, classic banana nut bread, which is the flavor I was going for, is bananas and walnuts.

Banana Nut Bread Granola Bars - the flavors of banana nut bread in an easy on-the-go breakfast or snack | cupcakesandkalechips.com #granolabars #glutenfree #vegan #bananas #snack

This recipe is part of the Improv Challenge.  If you’ve been reading my blog since the earlier days, you may remember the Improv Challenge, and some of my submissions, like PB&J Cookie Dough Dip, Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie, Almond Crusted Chicken with Cherry Balsamic Sauce, or “Bobby Flay” Corn.  But for the newer folks, and as a reminder for those that have been around for awhile, the Improv Challenge is a blog hop hosted by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. A theme is given, which is two assigned ingredients. Then it is up to the participating bloggers to let the creative juices flow, and see what they can come up with. Then on the third Thursday of the month, we will all publish our new recipes based on the theme.  This month’s theme – bananas & nutmeg.  If you are have a blog and would like to join us, click on the picture to the below to learn more.  If you are new to my blog, finding me because you have been following the Improv Challenge, then WELCOME!  I have been out of the loop for awhile taking a blogging break in my first trimester of pregnancy, then easing my way back into things.  This is my first time participating in quite awhile.

Improv Challenge

Check out what the other Improv-ers are cooking up with bananas & nutmeg at the bottom of this post.

Banana Nut Bread Granola Bars - the flavors of banana nut bread in an easy on-the-go breakfast or snack | cupcakesandkalechips.com #granolabars #glutenfree #vegan #bananas #snack

And, as you would expect, totally Bug-Approved!

IMG 3081

Does your significant other have any habits (eating or otherwise) that you have tried to change improve modify oh I give up with finding the right word, but you have decided it is not worth the battle?
Banana Nut Bread Granola Bars
 
A chewy, slightly sweet granola bar with flavors reminiscent of classic banana nut bread.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Serves: 10-12
Ingredients
  • 3¼ c old-fashioned oats (*See Note)
  • ¼ c ground flax seed (optional)
  • 1 c mashed banana (**See Note)
  • ¼ -½ c honey or agave nectar (***See Note)
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Coat an 8×8 in. baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the oats and flax seed.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together banana, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until well combined.
  5. Pour the liquid mixture over the oats mixture, and stir until evenly coated and the oats are moistened.
  6. Stir in the cranberries and walnuts.
  7. Press the mixture firmly into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown, and firm.
  9. Cool in pan for about 5-10 minutes, cut into bars, and remove from pan to finish cooling completely.
Notes
*If you need these to be gluten-free, ensure that you are using oats that are certified gluten-free. **I used ¼ c honey because my bananas were very ripe and sweet. ***I was using thawed frozen bananas, so they were quite soft. If yours were not frozen, you want to mash to a pulp, or put in a food processor.
Enjoy!
Banana Nut Bread Granola Bars - the flavors of banana nut bread in an easy on-the-go breakfast or snack | cupcakesandkalechips.com #granolabars #glutenfree #vegan #bananas #snack

This recipe was shared with: #glutenfreefridays #25 at Vegetarian Mama

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Comments

  1. Suzi says

    I am going to make these! Two things however: you don’t have the dried cranberries in the ingredients list, and your asterisk system of notes seems confused. Two stars are on one cup of banana in the ingredients list, and the two stars note says you only used 1/4 cup – I think this is in reference to the amount of sweetener, not the banana? But this looks really yummy and I was just searching for a granola bar recipe to pack a snack for my flight to CA tomorrow, and this luckily popped up first in my reader – my hubs loves banana bread so I think these will be a hit! Thanks!

    • says

      I hope you enjoy them – perfect for traveling! I did not use dried cranberries – I just mentioned you could add them in if you wanted – chocolate chips, raisins, whatever. You can do this with the nuts, perhaps replacing some of the nuts. And yes, I did clarify my note. I only used 1.4 c of the sweetener because the bananas I used in my one cup of bananas were very ripe and sweet. Let me know if you have any other questions. Enjoy!

  2. says

    I need to make more bars like this. My voracious teens eat more junk than I would like. That’s the thing I cannot change in my husband….his love of junk food. After 25 years, I guess there is no hope.

  3. says

    What great looking granola bars! I love that they”re not overly sweet, and are so healthy! (My biggest complaint about many store-bought granola bars is that they are too sweet for my tastes). Great addition to the Improv Challenge and glad to see them helping you towards your goal of making healthy on-the-go breakfasts for your family! I made fried bananas with a brown sugar sauce.

  4. says

    Your banana bars look incredible! My husband has a book’s worth of food issues. :) He doesn’t like white rice, bell peppers can only be diced, onions have to be minced, spinach is gross…I could go on and on.

  5. says

    I love that The Bug sounds so open to eating such healthy things! Maddy used to eat oatmeal like it was going out of style. No more. She would eat pancakes every day if I let her. Thank goodness she still loves yogurt but forget it, if I were to put chia seeds in there that would be the end of that. These granola bars sound fantastic and healthy. I think if I omitted the walnuts, she may actually eat them and I’ve never made homemade granola bars before. Sounds like it’s high time!

  6. says

    Totally pinning these to make for me and my 5 year old! Well, my significant other’s entire diet habits could be revamped (how he ended up married to a dietitian & foodie, I’ll never know – ha!) but I don’t even try because he has no interest in changing his picky palate – sigh. But then again he does eat granola bars so just maybe he’d try these…..

  7. says

    I love making granola bars for my daughter and I’d bet that she’d love these, going to give them a try.

    My Improv Cooking Challenge entry this month: Baked Bananas, hope that you’ll stop over and check the recipe out.

    Lisa~~

  8. says

    Love the flavor combo in your granola bars, they look wonderful! My hubby’s habit is he never wants to eat breakfast, and will workout in am without eating anything. Hugs, Terra

  9. says

    These sound amazing! My husband loves granola bars, but I have never tried to make them. I had a hard time concentrating on the recipe because I am totally amazed by the quality of your photos – they are beautiful!! I really want to work on my photography and yours truly give me inspiration to strive to work on towards. Thank you for the recipe and the photos inspiration.

    If you would like to look at my banana daquiri muffins, please stop by.

  10. barb says

    These just came out of the oven. I hope they are great. They sure look and smell yummy. I am even going to wrap them in parchment and some red & white twine. They will be perfect for my girls (25 & 27 years old by the way) to take in the car on their way to work, or an afternoon snack. I’ll let you know how welike them!

    **my husband is the most annoying eater. It’s nearly impossible to get him to try new things ( I’ll try anything). If he has one wish it would be that everything edible could be made into a sandwich ( i’m not a fan of bread so eat hardly anything as a sandwich). #3 He’s a beefaholic (I really dislike beef). Still, I wouldn’t trade him for all the tea in China!

  11. barb says

    I said I would let you know how we like them.. Everyone LOVED them. I really liked wrapping them in parchment and twine. Made them extra special. Kept them in the fridge until they disappeared. I will be making them again very soon. They have the density of a Cliff or Zone bar. Not at all like a “store bought” granola bar. I used 1/4 cup of honey and they were perfect. Also truth be told, I only had 2 3/4 cups oats at home so I added cheerios to make the 3 1/4 cup total needed. They were great. I’m wondering if adding some protein powder would give them an extra protein kick? Any thoughts on that Brianne? Thanks for this great recipe that will become a staple in our house.

    • says

      So glad you liked them!! I don’t see why you couldn’t add protein powder. I haven’t worked with it, so not sure if you would need to adjust the moisture, but it is worth a shot!

  12. Joy says

    Thanks for posting this fun recipe. I just made these and they came out well. I used 3 very, very ripe bananas, flax seed instead of ground flax, slivered almonds instead of walnuts (I’m just not a walnut fan) and 1/4cup of agave. The bars were nice and firm with a lovely banana bread flavor, but definitely not very sweet (which is OK with me). I will be making these again but with pumpkin next time. Thanks again!

  13. alexis says

    I just made these and they taste delicious. One problem — when I went to cut them into bars, they crumbled. I went with the 1/4 c of honey method — would a 1/3 c make them stickier so that they are more of a bar, less of a tasty crumbled mess?

    • Ian says

      I shape mine individually before baking, stops the crumbling quite easily and if cooking with kids it gives them a chance to get their hands dirty

  14. Ian says

    Made these a little different from the recipe, put whole walnuts into food processor followed by oats and dry ingredients. After adding the banana and the honey, I added a little water to make it all blend nicely. Shaped the bars by hand and set them on a cookie sheet to bake until golden brown…came out marvelously. Thanks for the recipe.

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