mmmmm, Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Granola! Elvis personally told me this recipe was awesome the other day when we spoke. Thank you very much! And why wouldn't he love it? It has 2 of his favorite ingredients... peanut butter and banana. Except this recipe is a healthier version than his fried sammies. But delicious nonetheless.
In an effort to reduce my husband's sugar intake, I set out to cut his beloved store-bought granola. Many granolas are loaded with added processed sugars. Store-bought granola is also expensive considering how small some of those boxes are. I wanted to make granola with healthier ingredients and less sugar. I'll breakdown the ingredients and acceptable substitutes below. NOTE: If you want a super sweet granola, this recipe is NOT it. But you can adjust it to your own taste buds!
Oats, the main ingredient in most granola recipes, are one of the healthiest grains around. They are nutritious and loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This makes them one of the most nutrient-dense foods. The antioxidants may help lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation. Their soluble fiber helps reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and promotes healthy gut bacteria. Oats are also effective at lowering the total and LDL cholesterol levels.
Natural Organic Peanut Butter
Most store-bought peanut butter is terrible and not good for you. But that doesn't mean peanuts can't be healthy! Peanuts are one of the highest plant-based forms of protein. They support and boosts metabolism and fat loss. But you need to consume a natural, organic peanut butter that is healthy. I make my own peanut butter. What's in it? Unsalted, roasted peanuts. Yep, that's it. ONE ingredient. No added sugar, salt, or hydrogenates oils. I grind the peanuts in a vintage Champion Juicer, but you can also use a food processor. The finished peanut butter needs stored in the fridge since it lacks preservatives. This homemade peanut butter is soft without runny oil. Once stored in the fridge, it firms up some over time. Almond butter or cashew butter would work great as a substitute.
Nuts (Walnuts, Almonds, & Pecans)
I add a mix of nuts to my granola. Walnuts, pecans, and almonds share some of the same health benefits. Walnuts are a superstar of the nut world. They improve brain and heart health since they have high amounts of omega-3 fats. Walnuts are an anti-inflammatory food that help prevent cancer. Added bonus, they are great for weight management! Walnuts are full of fatty acids and some protein which help make you feel full, as are almonds. Two key nutrients in almonds, riboflavin and L-carnitine, help prevent cognitive decline. This makes them great for reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Pecans are also known to help reduce obesity due to their manganese, copper, and thiamine. Tree nuts can reduce blood pressure and decrease overall cardiac-related deaths. Nuts are one of the top cholesterol-lowering foods.
Chocolate Powder (or cocoa powder)
I use Garden of Life Raw Organic Perfect Food Green Super Food Juiced Greens Powder: Chocolate Cacao flavor. Wowzers, what a long name! This powder has greens, sprouts, fruits, vegetables, live probiotics and enzymes. Some of the healthy greens are broccoli, barley and wheat grass juice, and spinach. Organic sprouts include flax, amaranth, quinoa, chia, and millet. It's organic, raw whole food, NON-GMO, gluten, soy, and dairy free. There are NO added sugars or artificial sweeteners. I add this powder to smoothies, granola, and protein bars. You can substitute cocoa powder instead of a green powder. The carob and cocoa in this powder are subtle and not overpowering. So if you want something super chocolatey, add more of this mix or use cocoa powder instead.
Unsweetened Banana Chips
Bananas are full of important nutrients and a great source of nutrition for most people. Since bananas are high in sugar, I only use unsweetened banana chips without any added sugar. Store-bought banana chips often have added hydrogenated oils, so dehydrate your own or check ingredients. Carbohydrates in bananas boost energy levels and help to build strength and muscle. This makes them a great pre- or post-workout snack. Bananas are loaded with potassium which helps to heal and build muscle. Potassium also promotes circulatory health and helps to lower high blood pressure. The fiber in bananas helps improve digestive health, makes you feel full longer, and helps reduce inflammation.
Unrefined Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a healthy fat that is great for baked goods in place of unhealthy vegetable oils. If you're confused by conflicting reports on whether coconut oil is healthy or not, read this detailed article. Unrefined coconut oil is minimally processed, so it retains the coconut flavor and smell. Olive oil can be substituted for coconut oil using the same ratio. AVOID unhealthy corn or soy oil! These oils are mostly genetically modified and increase risks for heart disease and breast cancer.
Unsweetened Coconut Chips
I prefer to use unsweetened coconut chips (or flakes) in my granola because I like the bulk and crunch. Shredded coconut would also work. Sweetened coconut usually has corn syrup and other additives, so I avoid it. Since unsweetened coconut is drier, I mix it in with the liquids and let it sit a minute before adding the oats. I've found this helps them from getting too toasty when baking.
PURE Maple Syrup
Not artificial syrup! Why not? Have you tasted REAL maple syrup? It's amazing! PLUS, it isn't made with high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients. A great benefit of maple syrup is that it has a less adverse effect on blood sugar levels than processed sugar. It also contains several trace minerals. Zinc fights illness and improves immunity. Manganese helps with fat and carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar regulation. Maple syrup contains higher levels of antioxidants. This makes it better for digestion than refined sugar products. Raw honey is a great substitute for maple syrup. Sometimes I use half maple syrup and half honey in my granola, or all honey. As with any sweetener, maple syrup is best used in moderation. This recipe calls for less overall sweeteners than most granola recipes.
The health benefits of flax are amazing. Flax is a great source of Omega-3, protein, and fiber. It increases nutrient absorption, lowers cholesterol, and helps reduce sugar cravings. These are all wonderful things that I knew my husband could benefit from. BUT, he hates flax. I've discovered it's one of those ingredients that is very easy to hide in recipes once it's ground up. And my husband doesn't read my blog, so he'll never know. Shhhhh. Flax can be eliminated from the recipe. It's not something I can personally taste, and it doesn't impact the final outcome of the granola.
First things first, are pepitas the same thing as pumpkin seeds? Technically, yes. But pepitas don't have a shell and are only found in certain pumpkin varieties. These crunchy green gems contain plenty of protein which is great for muscles. Their fiber supports a healthy digestive system. High in plant-based omega-3 and antioxidants, they can help lower inflammation and balance your diet. Pepitas are also packed with minerals! Phosphorus supports bone health, and zinc supports immune system health. Sunflower seeds would be an excellent substitution or addition to this granola.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Granola Recipe (makes approx. 1 gallon) print the recipe card
- 1/3 cup natural peanut butter (no added sugar or salt if possible)
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 cup unrefined virgin coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons chocolate protein powder (or cocoa powder)
- 1/8 cup ground flax seed meal
- 1/3 cup raw pepitas
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut chips
- 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts)
- 6 cups rolled oats
- 3/4 cup unsweetened banana chips
- Pre-heat oven to 340 degrees.
- Heat peanut butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, and chocolate powder (or cocoa) in a small pot over low heat until combined.
- Add liquid mixture to large bowl with coconut chips, pepitas, flax meal, and chopped nuts. Do NOT add banana chips yet! Stir to combine.
- Add oats and mix thoroughly.
- Spread mixture onto large cookie sheet. Press granola down with a spatula.
- Bake at 340 degrees for 15 minutes. Gently stir granola, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
- Cool on cookie sheet. Stir in dried banana chips. Store granola in a gallon mason jar.
The first time I made this granola, my husband didn't think it was sweet enough. He had just come off his store-bought granola sugar high after all. Many granola recipes call for added white or brown sugar or corn syrup, but this recipe only had maple syrup. So I added a few tablespoons of sugar to the second batch of granola that I made. Gradually, I reduced the sugar with each batch until there was no added sugar. And the last time my husband ate store-bought granola, he thought it was way too sweet. So my evil genius plan to reduce his sugar intake worked. Mwahahaha.
I make several granola varieties including an apple spice and pumpkin granola. It's easy to swap out ingredients and come up with new flavors to try. Use honey instead of maple syrup or applesauce instead of pumpkin puree. The main thing I've learned is to keep the ratio of wet ingredients to dry ingredients about the same. Have fun coming up with your own version of this granola.