by Tammy Taylor
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Cereal is a quick breakfast option for us and we enjoy it often. But I wanted a more natural option than the rows of expensive and brightly-colored cereal boxes that lined the store shelves. I love granola and I love pumpkin, so this combination certainly works for me. The puree used in my recipe came from my garden, originally pumpkin seeds that were compost volunteers. Our youngest daughter used pumpkins in the decoration for her fall wedding so I brought a couple of them home used them in my own fall decorations.
When they had done their decorating duty I cooked, pureed & froze the pumpkin, the skins & seeds went into my * tumbling composter. One of those seeds sprouted in the compost so I moved the seedling into my veggie garden and allowed it to grow, and it gifted me with several pumpkins. I cooked/puree/froze them in 1 cup servings. I pull out a couple of those single-cup measures of puree and let them thaw in the freezer overnight when I want to make pumpkin granola.
Assemble Wholesome Ingredients
To make my granola I first pull out my ingredients: 8 cups of oats (I like to use a combination of quick oats & old fashioned oats so my granola has varied texture.) 1 cup of honey, 1 cup of molasses, 2 cups pumpkin puree, 1 cup shredded coconut, 2 cups of chopped nuts and seeds and 1 and 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted. I also mix up my own pumpkin spice seasoning with 1.5 Tablespoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cloves and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
In a large bowl I mix in the oats, coconut, spices and nuts. We have some pretty amazing pecan trees here on the ranch so I usually use about a cup of chopped pecans from our trees. And I typically add about a cup of shelled sunflower seeds to reach the 2 cups required for this recipe. I really like this combination of nuts/seeds but change it up often depending on what I have on hand. You can use whatever flavor combination you prefer.
After the oat mixture is fully mixed I pull out another large bowl and pour in the melted butter (or sometimes melted coconut oil), the pumpkin puree, honey and molasses. I stir until it’s all incorporated.
Then I combine the two bowls, folding the oats into the wet mixture until the oats are fully coated.
Bake Until Crispy
This mixture is now divided in half. I pull out a couple of large cookie sheets with sides and place 1/2 the mixture on each sheet. Finally I place them in the oven set to bake at 325 degrees.
I bake the granola for about an hour, pulling out the sheets every 20 minutes to stir the granola and break up the chunks. (UPDATE: my oven’s speed-bake means I only bake for 40 minutes, stirring twice!) I don’t like my granola too sweet so I always throw in a handful or two of raw old-fashioned oats during that first stir. This seems to cut the sweetness some. But that’s just my preference.
Each time I pull out the sheets I rotate the position when I return them to the oven so that each sheet gets equal time on the top rack and the bottom rack for even drying.
Sometimes my homemade pumpkin puree has more moisture than canned puree so it might take a little longer to bake. I’m looking for a golden brown color. You don’t want it to burn so watch your granola carefully. After my granola is dry as I want it, I turn off the oven & bring out the trays. One more quick stir and I return the trays to the oven racks to soak up the residual heat. The trays usually reside in the warm oven for about thirty more minutes. The granola will naturally gain a little crunch as it cools. But I like my granola a little more crunchy and this dries it out just right for me.
Granola Recipe Is Flexible To Your Tastes!
The beautiful thing about this granola is that it’s so flexible. Sometimes if I don’t have pumpkin puree I’ll use applesauce in its place and make an apple honey-nut version. I’d think any pureed fruit would work just as well.
And I really enjoy the sweetness of dried fruit in my granola. So after I get the texture where I want it I pull out the trays and mix in 1.5 cups of dried fruit into each pan of granola. In past batches of granola I’ve used raisins, dried cranberries, dried chopped apples, dehydrated chopped plums or even dried jujubes. Many times I’ve harvested & dried that fruit myself. They’re all good so use whatever soft dried fruit you like.
The beautiful thing about this granola is that it makes two large trays. You can finish them each differently to suit different tastes in your household. Maybe one likes raisins but another likes cranberries or some other dried fruit – you can make both kinds. Want chocolate chips in one – go for it! Dried banana chips or other dried fruit? Oh yeah. As with almost all of my recipes, this one is also geared to be personalized to suit your tastes.
Makes A GALLON Of Granola!
This recipe makes a lot – about a gallon. The granola is absolutely delicious and very filling. You don’t eat as much so it lasts longer than those store-bought cereals that just don’t seem to fill you up. Don’t try to pour yourself a regular-sized cereal bowl of this homemade granola. You won’t be able to finish it! Give it a try, the recipe is below.
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Pumpkin Granola Recipe – makes about 1 gallon
- 8 cups oats (I mix quick and old fashioned for various textures, you can use whichever you prefer)
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup molasses (or 3/4 cup brown sugar as substitute)
- 3/4 cup coconut oil (or 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted)
- 2 cups assorted chopped nuts and seeds (I like pecans & sunflower seeds)
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 2 cups pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or see below to make your own)
- (MYO spice = 1.5 T. cinnamon, 1 t. ground ginger, 1/2 t. ground allspice or cloves, 1/2 t. ground nutmeg)
- 2-3 cups raisins or other dried fruit (add these after baking or they’ll burn)
Pour melted coconut oil into large-ish bowl and add 1 cup of honey, 1 cup of molasses, 2 Tbl. vanilla and 2 cups pureed pumpkin. Stir until fully blended.
In separate large bowl, mix 8 cups oats, 2 cups nuts, 1 cup shredded coconut and 3 Tbl. pumpkin pie spice (or see above for MYO spice mixture) – do not add raisins yet. Finally, add wet ingredients to dry mixture and stir until all is fully coated.
Lay moistened ingredients about 1/2 inch thick on two cookie sheets (with sides to contain the granola)
Bake at 325 F for 60 minutes, or until golden brown in color. You’ll need to stir the granola once every 20 minutes or so for even drying and to break up any large clumps to assure they dry out enough for longer storage. (UPDATE: my oven’s fan-assisted speed-bake means I only bake for 40 minutes, stirring twice!) After baking time if you want a crunchier granola turn the oven off and let the granola continue to dry out in the residual heat of the oven. When granola is cooled, mix in 2-3 cups raisins, stir & store in airtight container.
NOTE: This recipe is very adaptable, I’ve substituted part of even all of the pumpkin for applesauce with good results. I don’t always add coconut and often add different than the noted measures for dried fruit or nuts – it all depends on what I have in the pantry needing to be used. I do always add several handfuls of raw old-fashioned style oats into the first stirring out of the oven, it cuts some of the sweetness in the granola which I like and it also stretches the volume.
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