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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 visiting a new friend along with our bestest friend, seeing the last Pavement show (probably) ever, staying at a guy’s apartment in Bushwick that had jeans in the freezer and an Opening Ceremony 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. In the LES Whole Foods, I convinced him that I knew my shit to the utmost when it comes to building a salad (“It’s like a vegetable sundae!!”)(#shithippiessay). Surrounded by awesome at all hours, plenty of cheap wine enjoyed on rooftops and the handsomest dude as my co-adventurer. Those are big rays of warm, neon light that shine through my memory.

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 ways that are obvious 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. A cookie sandwich at Babycakes is pretty rad, but understanding my main squeeze just a tiny bit more, through a sneaky travel osmosis energy exchange, is about a million times more thrilling.

And here’s something he grew to understand about me right quick, no mysterious knowledge transfer through the cosmos needed: I fall into bouts of hangry-ness with frightening ease–especially on the road. If I can’t get a wholesome snack when I need it, I’m kind of a jerk. Mark is simultaneously patient and eager to point out that I’m being a HUGE baby. It’s just the approach needed to help me move towards the endgame. That guy. He gets me.

So for all of you hangry peeps (I salute you), I made a healthy snack today. I love a good granola bar in terms of concept. They frequently disappoint in execution. Lots of sugar, soy protein isolate, weird things, hard-ass 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{vegan + GF} banana bread granola bars! // the first mess
vegan + GF banana bread granola bars recipe
serves: makes 16 bars
notes: In retrospect, my bananas could have been riper–just sayin’. Also, I blend the bananas up with all of the other liquid components for MAXIMUM integration. Totally an optional step. 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 ‘em small-ish. 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 way-way 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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Harriet McAtee19/09/2013 - 5:38 am

Dude, these granola bars look amazing! Banana anything is enough to get me interested, and all your notes on what makes a good granola bar make the granola-bar-snob in me happy. Have an awesome time away – I totally agree with you on the special vibe you get when travelling with your partner – it’s so precious because you can’t connect with it at home.

Emma19/09/2013 - 6:34 am

I’m definitely not a pleasant person to be around when hunger strikes and I can’t get a decent snack! To avoid those kind of situations my handbag is loaded with food at all times!
These granola bars look so so good and perfect timing as I just bought some brown rice syrup :)
Do you think they’d travel ok? Wrapped in foil perhaps?

carey19/09/2013 - 7:36 am

DUDE, 1 in 4 chance we were totally at the same Pavement show! (I was there on the 21st.) *high five* I was lucky enough to stay at a family friend’s flat on the upper west side, which was within walking distance of the park. It sounds kind of fancy, but it definitely wasn’t hip enough to have jeans in the freezer. (A friend of mine just explained that to me, since he has a pair of those shrink-to-fit jeans that you’re only supposed to wash once a year, then just stick in the freezer to deodorize them if they start to smell. I laughed a lot. Then I wondered if I own anything that could benefit from some freezer time.)

And so right there with ya on the hangry-ness, and also on the usually-disappointed-by-granola-bars thang. WAY into these, especially with all that banana-y goodness. Heck yusss.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar19/09/2013 - 7:41 am

Yay!! So excited for you! Have a great weekend! Granola bars are the perfect snack.

Emma Galloway19/09/2013 - 8:30 am

Jeans in the freezer, um what?!
I make a cookie similar to these bars, not sure why I had never thought to cook them like this and drizzle in chocolate though, yours look way yummier! Have a great time in NY, I so hope I get to experience it myself one day. At least once in this lifetime! xx

JC Carter19/09/2013 - 8:34 am

I have been looking around for a recipe like this all summer! Thank you, thank you. Also there is a common joke at work that I should be fed at all times, so I know what you are talking about.

Shelly19/09/2013 - 8:36 am

Getting hangry is one of my worst traits. I ALWAYS carry around almonds in my purse to try to do the world a favor and keep my food moods in check.

These granola bars sound like a perfect road trip snack!

Lindsay Dunton19/09/2013 - 8:37 am

Your bag…I LOVE your bag. Where did you get it? Who makes it?

Laura Wright19/09/2013 - 8:39 am

Hey Lindsay! It’s a Filson (this one).
-L

Laura Wright19/09/2013 - 8:40 am

Hi Emma! I think they would travel fine as long as they’re foil wrapped or ziploc-bagged. They are more of a chewy granola bar as opposed to crispy, so they’ll hold their shape pretty good. Might get a little smooshy, but that’s all :)
-L

Margarita19/09/2013 - 8:53 am

Hello there! I am going to NY for yoga teacher training in 10 days and am super excited to have found these bars. These are what I need to power me through my days… I can’t show my hangry side to new friends when I’m there for a month because they just won’t like me at all. Only my husband has seen my hangry self and he is so nice about it. God bless him. I love making granola and tried so many times to turn them into bars, but they just always end up crumbly. Didnt know bananas were the secret! I need something I can hold instead of cup in my palms and pop in my mouth like pills. Haha! This is perfect! Thanks.

Ileana19/09/2013 - 9:03 am

Ha! I am the same way. I get grumpy and my bf knows I’m just a little hangry. Actually, my sister knows this, too. But it’s an easy problem to solve!

Have a wonderful time in New York! Thanks for the granola bars. :)

Ali @ Inspiralized19/09/2013 - 9:24 am

I love your photography, you make everything look amazingly delicious! Wish I could eat this for breakfast :)

Lindsey19/09/2013 - 9:24 am

Love the idea of using bananas in a granola bar, totally makes sense. And agreed, no granola bar is complete without some chocolatey goodness. Glad to hear you’ll be in my neck of the woods this weekend! NYC is welcoming you with open arms. You and your man have a good trip!

Grace19/09/2013 - 9:41 am

LOVIN’ the looks of these. Chocolate chips in banana bread is a must in my house. I typically avoid granola bars (for the reasons you mentioned) but these are quite delightful. I too need to be prepped with healthy high-vibe snacks pre-trip or I turn into a hangry monster. My man learned that early on as well ;) we usually go for spring rolls and hearty kale salads but I just might have to add these into rotation!

Rachel19/09/2013 - 11:30 am

Have you ever tried Enjoy Life chocolate chips? They’re free of nastiness (hence my favorite brand). :-)

lyn19/09/2013 - 11:55 am

Amazing pictures! And wishing these were my afternoon snack. Can’t wait to play around with the recipe! Safe travels. xo

Laura Wright19/09/2013 - 12:10 pm

Hey Rachel, I have tried those and they are amaaazing! Love the vegan ones from Whole Foods too :)
-L

Jo19/09/2013 - 12:41 pm

Hehe I love the way you describe your relationship. I hope to go back to some of the places we visited together in our early days of dating.. now with a bubba and years of knowing each other up our sleeves ; ) Yes to these granola bars. I’ve always been a bit of a throw-together-whatever-i -have-in-the-pantry kind of girl when it comes to making bars like these.. I think your recipe looks like a winner and will defiantly be making them! Have fun in NY!

Kasey19/09/2013 - 2:44 pm

Have an awesome time in NYC! Gosh I miss that city. These granola bars look so bomb!

Claire (Eat Well. Party Hard.)19/09/2013 - 6:29 pm

Your descriptions of salad-building at the LES Whole Foods, of what it’s like to hang in Bushwick, of indulging at Babycakes…oh, man. Dealing with I-miss-that-life pangs something MAJOR right now.

Also: hangry. Yup. Totally in that category. Feel ya.

Happy travels :) Hoping for photos.

Maria19/09/2013 - 11:42 pm

go to “the hummus place”. PULEEZE!!

anna @ annamayeveryday20/09/2013 - 7:15 am

These look fab – seriously delicious with the bonus of being good for you…. Fantastic photographs too.

Christine20/09/2013 - 8:26 am

Thanks for the recipe! I made these last night and, while I didn’t care for the texture, the flavor was awesome. You’ve unlocked the solution to the perfect healthy granola bar. Way to go. In pursuit of a slightly firmer chewy granola bar (I know, I’m a contradictor), next time I am going to substitute a basic homemade granola for the oat-syrup-salt-cinnamon-coconut oil mixture. Thanks for the inspiration!

Julia20/09/2013 - 10:54 am

Oh my God, those bars look so yummy! “Hangry” – I learned a new word for a state I know just too good!

Sophia20/09/2013 - 10:56 am

Although I like the ‘idea’ of granola bars I find it really difficult to find ones (even at Whole Foods and other organic stores) that are not toothachingly sweet and taste more like a candy bar. That being said, I think these sound wonderful – as much as I like banana bread and banana smoothies it’s nice to have another recipe to use my ripe bananas in. Also, our pantry is exploding with bags of oats I seem to be hoarding for when the weather in Rome realises it’s fall and cold enough for warming bowls of porridge to start my day (and until then I might as well do something useful with all those oats!).

Have lots of fun in New York – it’s been far too long since my last trip there and I cannot wait to go back.

Katie @ Produce on Parade20/09/2013 - 3:40 pm

Whoa, these look fantastic. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe. Your photos are stunning and such an inspiration…as always :) All the best! P.S. I love that green bag! Can I ask where you got it from? Cheers!

dana20/09/2013 - 7:08 pm

You used an exclamation point. I HAD to read all the way to the bottom. These look glorious! Will have to give them a try! Happy fall, Laura!

Mia20/09/2013 - 8:31 pm

Oh, wow! These look amazing! I could certainly use some healthy snacks like these!!!

dishing up the dirt21/09/2013 - 7:11 pm

have a fabulous time in nyc! These granola bars are happening at my house this weekend. Thanks for the recipe!

Lena22/09/2013 - 9:31 am

Banana Bread Granola Bars sounds too good not to give it a try. And since I have terrible bouts of hangryness, too, I think I really should make those and carry them with me anytime I am travelling. I have gotten better at being proactive and carrying something with me and actually eating it once I start feeling hungry, but there are still moments I could be nicer to my boyfriend.

Amy22/09/2013 - 5:27 pm

I just made these granola bars and I love how the banana holds them together without having to add an insane amount of honey/maple syrup. The last time I made granola bars they were a lot sweeter and kept crumbling. These ones are perfect!

Ayla Goddard23/09/2013 - 8:34 am

Hi, Wow I just found you’re beautiful site on Pinterest and its fantastic. For a gluten-free gal just starting out, what do you recommend for ingredients like coconut oil and almond butter? Do you buy online or at a specific whole foods store? Even though I live all the way down under it would be great to hear some budget tips :) Thanks for the amazing work, you are an inspiration!

chloe grindle23/09/2013 - 10:25 am

these photos are stunning! you have such a good eye for detail and what will make an interesting shot. all your photography has such vitality to it! jealous! x

Christine23/09/2013 - 4:59 pm

I just made my second batch of theis recipe with an added cup of grated, roasted butternut squash. Amazing! Thanks!

Laura Wright23/09/2013 - 8:39 pm

Hello Ayla,
I’ve been buying my coconut oil and almond butter at Costco in large quantities to save a few dollars (I’m not sure if you have these stores down there though…?). I use these things often, so buying them in a large lot isn’t too intimidating. It’s really easy and economical to make your own almond butter too, if you have a food processor or blender. Just blitz up raw or roasted almonds until the smooth butter forms. Hope this helps!
-L

Kimberley26/09/2013 - 2:04 am

This is kinda epic. I love your granola bar method. Also, the unexpected inspiration hiding out in NYC. Yes.

Anjali29/09/2013 - 12:36 pm

Yes! I’ve been living off of banana-based granola bars since going back to school in August. Although now I need to explore this chocolate drizzle business.

And you’re right. Sticking together is what good waffles (and granola bars) do! :)

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Erika01/10/2013 - 11:26 pm

I was sucked in once I read ‘banana bread’.
Just made my first batch, followed to a T (lies: I used light corn syrup for the rice cuz that’s what I had), and the smell in the house is awesome. Also, first time I ever bought/used vigin coconut oil, and, no joke, it’s so good I licked the spoon.
So the outcome: really nice and crunchy on top, inside texture crumbly and almost steamed in its loose chewiness. Kinda like bread. Didnt hold together as cleanly as in the pic (read: could not get a crisp clean cuts for the bars). Not exactly what I expected, but tastes ridiculously good, and chock full of good stuff. Maybe next time I use half the mix to make a thinner, more solid product? Any advice? Very, very yum! Thanks!!

Laura Wright02/10/2013 - 8:26 am

Hey Erika! Thanks for your feedback on these. It is definitely more of a soft + chewy bar situation as opposed to crunchy/crispy. I’ve never worked with light corn syrup, so I’m not sure on whether it has decent binding powers. I used/specified the brown rice syrup because I know it helps things hold together really well. Definitely worth a try if you see it in a grocery store some time! Really glad that you enjoyed the taste overall though :)
-L

Tricia09/10/2013 - 5:40 pm

Making these for the 3rd time. And double batch each time too! They are awesome. Have been making for a very finicky eater that needs to eat more. He absolutely loves also. Said they taste too good to be good! I assured him it was miracle goodness. Thanks for sharing the goods!

Hannah22/10/2013 - 6:22 pm

Thank you for this stunning recipe! I was wondering of I could replace the oats with buckwheat?

Laura Wright23/10/2013 - 8:14 am

Hi Hannah! Do you mean raw buckwheat groats or the toasted ones (kasha)? Ideally you want some kind of flaked grain/seed that won’t require any pre-cooking or soaking. Flaked quinoa would be awesome here if that’s an option for you. I’m honestly not sure how buckwheat would perform since it is quite firm in its original state. You might have to cook it a bit and cool it before mixing into the batter, but ensure that the groats don’t get too mushy as well. Worth playing around with I think! :)
-L

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Jacqueline Yaraghi12/03/2014 - 4:39 pm

These look wonderful! I really can’t wait to try them. I was wonderful how well they kept? My boyfriend just deployed to Afghanistan and I want to send him healthy bars and granola but the trip will be about a week long before it gets to him. Do you think they’ll stay good on the trip? And for about a week when he gets them?

Laura Wright18/03/2014 - 10:25 am

Hi Jacqueline,
When I make these, I do keep them in the fridge and I generally say that they last a week or so. I mostly refrigerate them because of the chocolate drizzle though. So if you skipped that step, they should keep at room temperature just fine. I would definitely make sure that you wrap them really tight if you’re sending them overseas. They might be a touch drier once they’re unwrapped, but otherwise I think they’ll be fine!
-L

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Annie18/05/2014 - 1:53 am

These granola bars look absolutely divine! I seriously need to try these out, though I don’t have any brown rice syrup. Is there anything I can sub that with? :c Also, your pictures are gorgeous.

Laura Wright18/05/2014 - 9:35 am

Hi Annie, I find brown rice syrup has some really strong stick-together powers with granola bars, but I think the next best thing would be honey if you’re cool with eating it. I think maple syrup or agave nectar might be too thin for this particular recipe. Let me know how it goes if you try!
-L

Sandy29/05/2014 - 8:31 pm

Just made these and they were soo yummy. Thanks for the recipe. I live in a very small town and can’t get the rice syrup. I used honey instead. And I over cooked them a little. They turned out crunchier. I think they would be better softer!!! Maybe I’ll master them the second time. So great for grabbing on the drive to work.

Janett31/05/2014 - 9:13 pm

Want to make these ASAP but don’t have brown rice syrup. Can I substitute the maple syrup with it?

Laura Wright01/06/2014 - 3:27 pm

Hi Janett! I think maple syrup might be too runny, resulting in a more crumbly bar. If you can eat it, I would recommend honey as a better replacement for the brown rice syrup. I can’t guarantee it’ll hold them together though, I just think it might work a bit better if you’re in a pinch.
-L

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