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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Banana Nut Granola Bars with Dried Cranberries

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Bananas are one fruit that I consistently buy year-round at the grocery store. It's habit. As I make my way through the produce section, I always throw a bunch of bananas in my cart, no matter how many other fruits have already found their way in there. In the summer, we go a little crazy with the produce buying, and the poor bananas tend to sit on the counter, neglected in favor of strawberries, blueberries, and my personal favorite (obsession): watermelon. Needless to say, I've been building up quite a stash of ripe bananas in my freezer!

I'm trying to use them up in smoothies and banana bread, but the bananas are stockpiling faster than I can use them! A Google search led me to this banana granola bar recipe, which I threw together one Sunday afternoon. After letting them cool, I cut them into individual bars, wrapped each of them in plastic wrap, and laid them all in a freezer bag, which I stuck back into the freezer (in other words, I exchanged bananas for granola bars...oops!). These are the perfect snack to grab when you're on the run. I've been taking one (or two) to work every day and enjoying them for an afternoon snack.They're crunchy and chewy and not too sweet (no added sugar, just sweetness from the bananas and the applesauce)! In the end, it looks like I have a good reason to keep up the banana buying habit!

One Year Ago: Asian Edamame Salad
Two Years Ago: Southwestern Chicken Salad

Banana Nut Granola Bars with Dried Cranberries
from Cookin' Canuck
-3 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
-3/4 cup roughly chopped nuts (I used a combination of sliced almonds and peanuts)
-3 large, ripe bananas
-2/3 cup applesauce (sweetened or unsweetened)
-3/4 cup dried cranberries
-3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
-2 tbsp ground flax seed (or flax meal)
-1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9 x 13 inch dish with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
2. On a large baking sheet, spread out oats and nuts. Place in oven to lightly toast, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, mash bananas with the applesauce until combined. Add oats, nuts, dried cranberries, flax seed, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to the banana mixture, mixing until combined. Transfer to prepared baking dish, spreading evenly.
4. Bake bars for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and beginning to separate from the side of the pan. Allow to cool on a wire rack before cutting into bars.
*Bars can be wrapped separately and frozen.