Crunchy Granola Clusters (Banana Bread or Pumpkin)

Who doesn’t love granola? It’s a versatile food that has enough presence to stand alone, but is also a great topping for yogurt, oatmeal, and smoothie bowls. It can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack, or even dessert. It has that perfect combination of lightly-sweetened crunchy nuttiness, and as a comfort food reminds me of my school days when I used to consume granola bars almost daily for a mid-day snack. The problem is, most commercially-produced granola is loaded with unhealthy oils and sugar. Yes, we have once again managed to turn an inherently healthy food into one that promotes disease!

One of my favorite granola recipes comes from the Oh She Glows cookbook. I’ve made this on numerous occasions and usually have to prepare a double batch so it doesn’t disappear in a day! Everyone that I’ve shared it with has asked me to package and sell it!

My pumpkin spice granola topping my pumpkin smoothie bowl

Recently, I went on a search for a recipe that uses even less sugar and oil. There are recipes out there that cut out oil completely, but I believe that keeping just a little bit maintains some of the desired crispiness. I did find a recipe online which was for a paleo-friendly granola and used only nuts and seeds. Natural sweetness came from dates and bananas. Looking for a more traditional granola, I cut back on the nuts and seeds and substituted with an equal amount rolled oats. I also used nuts that I prefer in granola (walnuts and pecans) in place of cashews. For anyone that prefers an all nut and seed version, this recipe can still be used. And if you have a favorite nut out there, by all means use it!

The original version I call the “Banana Bread” variation since it’s made with bananas and cinnamon. Being that it’s Fall, and “pumpkin spice” is all the rage, I decided to make a pumpkin variation as well, substituting the banana for canned pumpkin and the cinnamon for pumpkin pie spice. Both varieties were delicious!

If you are trying to avoid grains altogether, you can omit oats completely and substitute an equal amount of nuts and seeds. For instance, you can increase walnuts and pecans to 1 cup each, add 1 cup of chopped cashews, and 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds.


  • 1 cup smashed banana (2-3 bananas). If making pumpkin spice version, substitute 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup walnut, chopped coarsely
  • 3/4 cup pecan, chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup oat groats (optional but gives extra crunch)
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 6-8 pitted medjool dates soaked in hot water for 15 minutes to soften
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice for pumpkin version, otherwise 1 tsp cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees (if oven runs hot turn to 300 degrees)
  • In a blender combine banana (or pumpkin) with liquid coconut oil (may need to warm slightly under how water), vanilla, soaked dates, maple syrup, and cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • In a large bowl combine nuts, seeds, oats, groats (optional), coconut, and salt
  • Pour liquid over dry ingredients and mix well
  • Spread in a thin layer on parchment paper over a baking sheet
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, watching closely to avoid burning. Stir/flip clusters half-way through. Watch closely and rotate baking sheets as needed to avoid burning
  • Let cool for 15-20 minutes then crumble