When life gives you smashed bananas, bake something!
That’s my new favorite saying and these are my new favorite thing to make with smashed bananas. In June, when I was hit by a car on my bike in Annapolis, MD, I made banana bread with the battered bananas that had been in my backpack. This is probably the easiest way to produce baking-worthy bananas around here, since I eat them up faster than they can ripen.
This time the beautiful bunch of perfect fruit I bought at Trader Joe’s in Manhattan went for quite a ride in our latest sailing disaster. By the way, I was so excited to find my favorite store blocks from where we were moored. I stocked up all my usual TJ’s fare. The sailing disaster was the scariest experience of my life so far. I’ll give the short version here but the full account is on my other blog, Pirat.
It was 6pm, very dark, and Lee and I were finishing our dinner in the cockpit. I looked over my shoulder to see a breaking wave about to hit our boat. Chaos ensued. We had come upon an uncharted shoal off the coast of New Jersey (Who knew New Jersey could be so treacherous!). Several walls of whitewater knocked our boat on it’s side and the keel (heavy thing on bottom of boat) thunked against the bottom a couple of times. I thought we were going to be smashed to bits and have to be rescued. We made it off, though, and pulled into Atlantic City, where we’d been heading in the first place, within a couple of hours.
Among the things to go flying down below was the bunch of bananas. I think Lee stepped on them while they were on the floor. I just stepped in the remains of my sweet potato from dinner. Yum.
On to the baking! These granola bars were next on my list of things to make anyway so I was actually kind of excited to have all the ingredients ready. It was very satisfying and therapeutic to whip up a sweet treat during our recover day.
I based my bars on quite a few granola bar recipes from all over the place. As with granola, finding the perfect recipe seemed impossible. I’m too picky about what goes into a good granola bar. I did like the idea of using mashed bananas and they made the end product fabulously soft and chewy. After enjoying the tasty combination of banana and coconut oil in my Banana Bran Scones, I opted to use coconut oil in the granola bars as well. It’s flavor is much stronger than in the scones and I love the banana-coconut fragrance these gave off when baking.
Nut and fruit additions are totally customizable. I used slivered almonds and no dried fruit but I think chopped dates and walnuts or pecans would be delicious. I may try toasting the nuts for more flavor next time and adding a little vanilla or almond exratact.
Chewy Granola Bars
Makes about 12 bars
2 3/4 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup agave syrup or honey
2 soft bananas
1 egg (or egg replacer equivalent for vegan version)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
optional: 1/4 – 1/2 cup dried fruit
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Melt coconut oil in a medium-sized saucepan over very low heat.
When it is completely liquified, add bananas and mash them thoroughly.
Add agave and egg and beat well till everything is combined.
Pour the oatmeal mix into the saucepan with the wet ingredients, stir everything up, and add the nuts and fruit (if using).
Time to get messy!
Scoop about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of the mixture into your hands. Shape it into an oblong bar (I found cupping my palms together worked well) and place it on cookie sheet with a non-stick baking surface (silicone mat or parchment).
I got 13 bars of about the same size out of my mixture but you can make them as big or small as you want. They also don’t have to be bar-shaped – make them round and they look like cookies! I do think shaping them rather than spreading the whole mixture in a pan and cutting it after baking is a good idea. The bars seem crumbly but they firm up nicely.
Bake for 15 minutes at 350.
Place on a wire rack to cool, and try a bar right out of the oven. Yum!