Pumpkin Spice Granola

 

Okay enough with the decadent desserts for awhile, my expanding waist line is screaming for me to stop.  I only have 40 more days til my cruise and this body is not swimsuit ready -_-  I'm trying not to panic (I will not stress eat...I will not stress eat...!!!!) and realize that cutting down sugar and increasing fiber in my diet is a must.  After having breakfast with my dear friend Kelly last week. she had mentioned that her friend in Austin had sent her a bag of Pumpkin Granola.  The idea left me with an intense pumpkin craving so I ran home to look up a recipe, if I can't bake desserts at least I can bake some granola!  

 

I wanted to find a recipe that didn't contain much fat and used little sugar -- most of the granolas I buy from the store are overly sweet and almost defeats the whole purpose of eating "healthy".  I love this recipe for the robust flavors of cinnamon ginger and cloves and the subtle sweetness from the honey and brown sugar. The granola is packed full of fiber from the oats and flax seeds so it won't leave you feeling guilty.  I recently started incoporating flax seeds into my breakfast routine-- I'll throw it into my smoothies in the mornings or sprinkle it ontop of my cereal, it has a nice nutty flavor and is PACKED full of nutrients and vitamins that are beneficial to our bodies. 

Flax seeds have been known as a miracle plant as far back as the Roman Empire.  They are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which are important for brain function, heart health, and skin health.  There are also essential nutrients like alpha linolenic acid and lignan that assists in the prevention heart disease, psoriasis and eczema, and also reduces the symptoms of arthritis, colitis, cancer and even acne.  Who knew such a tiny seed packed so much punch? 

This pumpkin spice granola is great plain or sprinkled ontop of yogurt for a parfait.  It's also a great recipe to make during the holidays for gifts, what friend wouldn't be excited over homemade pumpkin spice granola?!  (ALL of my friends better have EXCITEMENT written all over their faces right now...) I'm actually going to be taking two bags with me on my camping trip this weekend.  THAT'S RIGHT it's time for my annual camping trip!  This year we'll be going to Turner Falls in Oklahoma -- I am keeping my fingers crossed for awesome rock caves, an impressive water fall and hopefully some awe inspiring Fall foliage.  I will share the menu once I get back.... Happy Friday Folks :)

 

Ingredients for Pumpkin Spice Granola (adapted from Taste Book)

  • 4 cups of rolled oats
  • 1 cup flax seed
  • 3/4 cup can pumpkin
  • 3 tsp Pumpkin Spice Mix (1 tsp ginger powder, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cloves)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup pepitas

 

Preheat oven to 325F.  In a large bowl combine the oats and flax seed.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the spices, salt, brown sugar, honey, applesauce, pumpkin and vanilla.  Pour the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly, making sure everything is evenly coated.  Spread evenly on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 25 minutes or until the mixture begins to harden. 

 

Flip the granola over using a spatula add the nuts and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until mixture is crisp and golden brown.  Check to see if the center of the granola is fully dried, the edges tend to brown faster so remove the cooked granola to a cooling rack and allow the rest to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until fully crisped.  Break up granola as desired and store in an airtight container.