Making granola at home is so much easier than it looks! Plus, this Banana Buckwheat Granola gives you another way to use those SUPER ripe bananas (it's not bread).
Making homemade granola for the first time about 6 years ago was a revelation for me. So, so easy and really, you can do it with whatever you have in your pantry, most of the time! And while many cereal recipes call for oats, I've found that buckwheat is my favorite basic grain.
In the past, people have asked me if buckwheat ends up being as crunchy in the end product as when eaten raw, and I would say no. It softens the binder mixture a bit, but remains firm enough for a good crunch that many grains don't offer.
Of course, a lot of the other ingredients here can be substituted for the seeds or sweeteners you have on hand, so let's move on to those substitutions and tips!
Substitutions of ingredients + tips
- Overripe banana - Make sure to use a REALLY ripe banana for this granola, as it gives the best flavor and helps to rely less on agave nectar to sweeten the mixture.
- Almond butter - If you have a nut allergy, you can use sunflower butter instead of almond butter. No nut allergy? Peanut butter also works great!
- Agave nectar - basically any similar liquid sweetener will work here, ie. maple syrup, brown rice syrup, etc.
- Raw buckwheat porridge - as mentioned before, these are my favorite textures in granola, but if you can't find them near you, oatmeal will work too. BUT, you will need to extend the cooking time by 5 to 10 minutes, to get a better texture.
- Raw pepitas - raw sunflower seeds will also work here, or any raw whole seed. I am not suggesting roasted seeds as they can burn.
- Quick cooking oats - for a completely gluten-free version, you can use quinoa flakes (found in most health food stores).
- Diced dates - I love the caramel flavor they bring to this recipe, but you can use just about any other dried fruit instead, like raisins, dried cranberries, or diced dried apples.
- Ground flax seeds - chia seeds will also work, as it is for binding.
Suggested Granola Servings
Although you can eat this granola on its own, as a snack - I do this all the time - but thought I would share some other ideas in case you need them! My favorite way to enjoy granola is plain dairy-free yogurt, with chopped fresh fruit (or fresh berries) and a drizzle of agave or maple syrup.
- 1 ripe banana, mashed
- 1/3 cup (83 g) smooth almond butter
- 1/3 cup (80 mL) agave nectar
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (276 g) raw buckwheat groats
- 3/4 cup (102 g) raw pepitas
- 1/2 cup (46 g) quick cooking oats
- 4 large dates, pitted, diced
- 3 tablespoons (21 g) ground flax seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the banana, almond butter, agave nectar and vanilla extract until smooth. Then add the buckwheat oatmeal, pepitas, oats, dates, flax seeds, cinnamon, ginger and salt to the bowl. Fold together until blended completely, with no dry spots.
- Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then using a spatula, flip the granola and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. The edges should be golden when finished.
- Place the baking sheet on a cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes before eating. If you plan to keep it in a sealed jar, wait 1 hour before breaking it into pieces and transferring it, to allow as much moisture as possible to evaporate. Enjoy with yogurt, fresh fruit or a bowl of smoothie!
- Almond Butter - can also use sunflower butter or peanut butter.
- Agave nectar - any similar liquid sweetener will work here, ie. maple syrup, brown rice syrup, etc.
- Raw buckwheat porridge - rolled oats will also work. BUT, you will need to extend the cooking time by 5 to 10 minutes, to get a better texture.
- Raw Pepitas - Raw sunflower seeds also work here, or any raw whole seed. I am not suggesting roasted seeds as they can burn.
- Quick-cooking oats - for a completely gluten-free version, you can use quinoa flakes (found in most health food stores).
- Diced dates - you can use just about any other dried fruit in their place, such as raisins, dried cranberries, or diced dried apples.
Nutritional information:Yield: 8 Portion: 1
Amount per serving:Calories: 155Total fat: 8 gSaturated fat: 1gTrans fat: 0gUnsaturated fats: 6gCholesterol: 0 mgSodium: 137 mgCarbohydrates: 18 gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 6g
Nutritional information is calculated by a plug-in and is not always accurate. Please calculate yours with the products you use, as it will be different for everyone.
It’s easy to be cynical about the idea of New Year’s resolutions, but there is a lot of undeniable and powerful energy surrounding the idea of change at this time of year. For many of us, that change starts in the kitchen.
Maybe it means resolving to cook at home more often, to keep a well-stocked freezer and pantry, to waste less, or to make slightly more wholesome choices. Maybe, for you, this is the year in which you’d like to give veganism ( or vegetarianism ) a try.
Whether you’re trying to dip your toes slowly into the world of plant-based eating, or you’re ready to make a total shift, it can be helpful to keep a few things in mind.
Some people go vegan overnight, and they never look back. But for many others, a slow transition is more sustainable ( and pleasurable ) than a 180-degree turn. If the idea of going vegan feels daunting, start with a couple of small steps, like a Meatless Monday challenge at home, or switching one of your daily meals to a meatless and dairy-free option. ( You’d be surprised at how easy it is to trade your turkey sandwich for hummus, tempeh bacon, and avocado ).
I’m quick to say that vegan food is just food. While there are a couple of secret weapon ingredients to have on your radar ( nutritional yeast, I’m lookin’ at you ), for the most part a healthy appetite for grains, beans, and produce is all you really need to get started. With that said, any dietary shift can be tricky, and veganism is no exception. So, before you get started, take just a little time to go over the basics of plant-based alimentation. Find a useful, all-in-one resource, like Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina’s Becoming Vegan, or Ginny Messina and Jack Norris’ Vegan For Life. At some point, someone will ask you where you get your protein ( or your iron, or your calcium ), and while you could laugh the question off, it’s a lot more powerful to supply a quick, confident answer.
Going vegan expanded my palate dramatically : I learned about all sorts of global cuisines, warmed up to my spice rack, and tried ingredients I’d never considered before. But my culinary repertoire was pretty meager when I made the switch. If you already have some culinary experience, don’t assume that you’ll need to acquire an entirely new bag of tricks to eat vegan or vegetarian.
In fact, one really useful place to start is by looking at some of your favorite dinner recipes and thinking about how you might adapt them to be meatless and/or dairy-free. It may be as simple as removing some cheese ( or replacing it with cashew cheese ). It may mean trading the central protein for beans, soy foods, or even a hearty vegetable, like mushrooms.
Until I went vegan, I had never tried tempeh, soba noodles, kimchi, kabocha squash, nutritional yeast, millet, mulberries, or buckwheat…and the list goes on. Becoming vegan encouraged me to explore new ingredients, and it also introduced me to more global dishes.
A great many dietary folklores around the world are already plant-based, which means that vegans and vegetarians have many rich, exciting culinary folklores to draw upon. If you’re new to plant-based cooking, explore meatless dishes and recipes from other parts of the world ( Indian, Ethiopian, and Middle Eastern dishes are some of my personal favorites ). Dust off your spice rack and add new flavors to your food. Use your transition to plant-based eating as an excuse to try new céréales, legumes, and vegetables.
A lot of folks assume that adapting a recipe to be vegan means replacing the meat or poultry with a faux meat, a block of tofu, or tempeh. That’s cool, but it can also be fun to think creatively and imaginatively about how to capture the essence of a traditional recipe without animal protein. No, lentil Bolognese isn’t really Bolognese, but it does capture the heartiness of the original; cashew banana yogurt is a far cry from dairy, but it does evoke the same, sweet creaminess.
Many people are surprised by how easy it is to go meatless. Cheese, on the other hand, is a different story. I myself used to utter the same words I hear constantly from readers, friends, and alimentation clients : ' I’d love to go vegan, but I can’t give up cheese. '
While I won’t pretend that giving up dairy is easy—it’s not, especially because it’s so ubiquitous in restaurant dishes—I will say that I had a much easier time living without it when I learned to make my own substitutes. Store-bought soy and almond cheeses weren’t cutting it ( especially nine years ago, when the alternatives were limited ), and soy creamers and yogurts left me feeling equally flat. Making my first batch of cashew cheese—which authentically captured the tanginess and texture of goat cheese—was a revelation. Homemade nut milk let me create creamy porridge and muesli far more authentically than did store-bought, non-dairy milk.
Over time, I’ve experimented with tofu paneer, tofu feta, and cashew yogurt, and the list is growing. Homemade dairy substitutes are creative, fun, and cost-effective, and I think they’re a big step up from what you can find in the store.
While I’m the first to point out that vegan proteins extend far beyond soy foods—encompassing tons of different grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds—you really can’t beat tofu and tempeh for ' meaty ' texture and complete protein in meatless dishes. Both ingredients can be either memorable or mundane, depending on how you prepare them. I definitely recommend pressing tofu if you’re not already in the habit; it’ll create a firmer, more toothsome matière that most people prefer.
When preparing tempeh, be sure to use a boldly flavored marinade or sauce to help balance tempeh’s earthy taste, and if you find it bitter, you can steam it before marinating, too.
For the most part, I try to feature whole foods and homemade ingredients in my cooking. But in spite of the fact that I love to create my own dairy substitutes and I’d usually rather eat a scoop of lentils than a block of faux meat, I don’t eschew vegan products, and I think that keeping an open mind about them can really enrich the authenticity of your food.
This is especially important when you’re transitioning and vegan cooking still feels like a brave new world. Nine times out of ten, I’ll opt to use cashew cheese in a recipe rather than Daiya ( a melty, commercial vegan cheese ) ; coconut oil in place of Earth Balance ( vegan butter ) ; or grilled tofu in place of Beyond Chicken ( grilled strips of soy and pea protein that taste shockingly like chicken ).
But when I’m aiming for totally authentic, precise results, vegan substitute products can go a long way, and it’s comforting to know that they’re an option if I feel like taking a shortcut.
Over time, I learned to create vegan food with greater sensitivity to others’ tastes and traditions. I love a lot of really crunchy fare, from the aforementioned raw kale salad to tofu, sprouts, and grain bowls. And I know a lot of other folks who love these dishes, too. But sometimes being an ambassador of vegan food means knowing how to create dishes that feel familiar and appeal to a wide array of more conservative palates, like vegan lasagna, shepherd’s pie, or sloppy Joes.
And, if you’re trying to dispel the idea that all végétaliens eat is salad and prove that vegan food can be filling and hearty, then it’s all the more important to create dishes that evoke a sense of comfort.
Change feels a lot less daunting when you have company. If your family and friends aren’t exploring veganism along with you, then find community in other ways. Explore a vegan meetup or potluck in your community. Become a regular commenter on vegan food blogs. If you do have a friend who’s interested in plant-based cooking, convie him or her over for some recipe testing.
Studies show that failure to stick with a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is often attributed to feeling ' different ' or isolated. Food is all about community and sharing, so do your best to share this lifestyle with people you care about—even if they’re not making the change along with you.