With a nod to banana bread, this lightly sweetened granola recipe gets plenty of crunch from dried banana slices and walnuts. Add a few dried blueberries for a little something extra.
I saw something on Instagram yesterday that smashed right into my heart: “Monetize your joy with caution.”
In the beginning, blogging helped me rekindle my joy of baking and find my joy of cooking.
It wasn’t long before I started to hear, “You need to optimize that post for keywords or the search engines will never find it.” And then, “You need to use affiliate links and join ad networks so you can make money.” Soon after, “You need to pitch brands so you can write sponsored posts and replace your income to do this full-time.”
Hold up. I started a blog because I was bored and wanted something to hold me accountable to writing. Not because I wanted to work from home, alone with nothing but my oven and my camera, with a sink full of dishes at the end of day.
It’s as thought this space is somehow “less than” because I only pop in once a week or so. As though I am somehow “less than” because I really don’t care that this isn’t my full-time gig. It’s not enough to just simply like doing something anymore. You have to find a way to make money.
No one has ever suggested I monetize my joy of reading, and I’ve never resented sitting down to read a book. I’ve yet to dread picking up a cross stitch pattern and working on it for an hour or two. But if you’re “a blogger”, then you better be making money off of your blog.
More times than I can count, I’ve opted not to bake a tray of cookies or try a new cake recipe, because then I’d have to photograph it and write about it. Or worse, shared something that wasn’t incredible because it was all I had when it was time to post. It’s all so ridiculous, but my love of these things was burned by the idea that I have to monetize these things.
I don’t share here as much as I once did because I wanted to get that joy back. Sometimes I cook or bake just for me. At first, it felt a little guilty, then a little rebellious. As if I had all stashed away cookie recipes like a secret treasure.
Checking in on the blog felt a bit like when I had a copy writing job. I thought I was a good fit because I enjoy writing and I’m not too bad at it. Like the cobbler’s children who had no shoes, this blogger’s blog had no words. I used them up until there was nothing left for me.
I depended on my fun to support me, and it became a different beast entirely. It’s fine to want that. I know bloggers who do just that (and they do it quite well). But it’s also fine that I don’t want that.
Something Emily McDowell wrote in her Instagram caption was, “Your relationship with the thing you love changes when you do it for money, especially if what you love most about it comes mainly from the process of doing it.”
I don’t blog to earn a paycheck that keeps the lights on and the fridge stocked. I blog because I love figuring out this constantly shifting landscape. It’s so much fun to bake. It’s fun create meaningful relationships with people who have a shared interest, and it’s fun hearing from you.
And I do it better because I take the time to get it right when it’s for me and not a paycheck.
So here I am, ready to share a banana walnut granola recipe I made a month ago and took pictures of today, because that’s when I finally felt like picking it back up again. It’s a recipe I made because I wanted to, not because I had to. And that genuinely pleases me. Enjoy!
Banana Walnut Granola Recipe Notes
One thing I love about granola is that there are so many changes you can make without breaking the recipe. Let’s talk about a few.
Base Ingredients: Oats and nuts are typically the backbone of any granola recipe. Flaxseed is also one of my favorite dry ingredients to add.
Fats: I usually use olive oil to coat my granola because I always have a Costco-size bottle of olive oil around. Canola oil is perfectly fine, as is coconut oil that’s been warmed to the point of a liquid. I’ve also made a granola that used butter as its fat.
Sweeteners: This granola recipe uses only maple syrup for a subtle sweetness, but honey is a perfectly acceptable substitution. If you like your granola on the sweeter side, you might want to add 1/4 cup of brown sugar in addition to the maple syrup.
Mix-Ins: These are things you add once the granola is fully cooked and cooled. In this case, it’s the dried banana slices and dried blueberries. If you want to add seeds – say sunflower seeds or pepitas, for example – these are usually best saved for stirring in after baking as well.
- 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 2 cups dried banana slices
- 1 cup dried blueberries (optional)
- Combine the oats, walnuts, flaxseed, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl.
- In a smaller bowl, stir together the maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla extract.
- Pour these wet ingredients over the dry ingredients in the large bowl and stir to combine.
- Spread the mixture across a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
- Stir in the coconut flakes and bake another 10 minutes. The granola should now be toasted and slightly crisp.
- Allow the granola to cool, then stir in the dried banana slices and dried blueberries, if using.
- Store in an airtight container for up to one month.