Granola clusters | What makes bananas a good binder?


As summer hits the UK (for a few weeks, anyway), my love for bowls of porridge is slowly diminishing.  My oatmeal creations are replaced by parfaits, overnight oats and granola mixtures.  Though the idea of porridge is still heavenly, time constraints as exams and deadlines loom over me prevent the morning kitchen experiments, which is now duly reserved for the weekends.

Previous attempts at incorporating granola in my morning routine had not been successful; shop-bought mixes were often too sweet for my liking and my half-asleep self would often forget my breakfast in the oven as my homemade granola crisps up to a burnt mess.  As of late, however, my organisation skills meant lazy days can be utilised for making delicious batches of the stuff, while carrying out errands.


In the recipe, I used bananas to bind the oats and other dry ingredients to create clusters.  Banana is often seen as an egg substitute, perfect for those exercising a vegan or paleo lifestyle.   As paleo diets are being incorporated into everyday cooking more so than before, interest in using fruit and vegetables as carbohydrate sources has surged.

Bananas contain lectins, which are protein molecules with the ability of binding carbohydrates.  They are used to bind molecules together quite easily, without the need to employ complex systems.  Plant lectins are often found in lentils, peas and bananas; all three are able to bind the sugars, mannose and glucose.   However, the supposed complexation of the banana lectin with starch make it a superior binding agent compared to the other two; this claim is also thought to be true for plantains and yams.

As well as using an egg substitute, perfect for days when your fridge or cupboards are looking a little bare, simple add-ons such as dried fruits, nuts and seeds make granola as versatile as porridge bowls.  My normal additions are usually whatever is left in my cupboard that week; topping with fresh fruit and alternating almond milk and Greek yoghurt gives you a new breakfast each time.

To conclude: I am a granola convert.

***

Banana granola ‘Banola‘ clusters

For 4-5 servings; keep in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. 

Ingredients

1 and 1/2 cup whole rolled oats

1 tbsp coconut oil

2 very ripe bananas

2 tbsp maple syrup/agave/honey

1/2 cup ground flax

1 cup of your chosen add-ons

1.  Pre-heat your oven to 200 C.

2.  Melt the coconut oil under medium heat.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the syrup.

3. Mash the bananas using the back of a fork in the maple/oil mixture.

4.  Add the flax, oats, and any seeds and/or nuts using, to the mixture.  Bring back to heat under a low setting.  Be careful as to not cook the mixture as such. Mix carefully and well.

5.  Remove from the heat after a couple of minutes and transfer to a lined baking tray.

6.  Pour the mix into the baking parchment and separate the clusters. If still quite sticky, it should not matter too much.

7.  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  Half-way through cooking, separate the clusters more, if desired, and turn them for even baking.  The clusters are ready once golden and they have crisped up. Mix the dried fruit in.

8.  Allow to cool on the tray and store well (as indicated above).  Enjoy with fresh fruit, yoghurt or milk!

***

Julia | themorningbowl.  Find me at Instagram: @themorningbowl.

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