Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pumpkin Almond Flax Granola {12 Weeks of Winter Squash}

Am I in the minority when I say that I do not like cinnamon in my granola?  I feel like I am.  But really, I can't stand it.  It always seems to over-power everything else and make everything all cloying, weirdly-spiced, and just plain old icky.  Funny thing is, I'm not a cinnamon hater.  I like it.  In the right circumstance.  In cinnamon rolls, for example.  But keep it far away from my granola!

I also prefer my granola less-sweet.  Less sweet than what, you ask?  Well, I don't know.  Less sweet than many "commercial" granolas, I suppose.  Complain, complain, complain. I guess that's why I just have to make my own granola now, isn't it?

And in the spirit of trying to incorporate more winter squash into my family's "rotation", I figured why not stir a little bit of pureed pumpkin into this batch of granola.  The pumpkin flavor doesn't overpower everything else, rather sort of hangs back and sort of sneaks its way onto your tongue.  The addition of the pepitas amps up that flavor, as do the hints of ginger and nutmeg.  Also, using golden syrup to sweeten alongside the brown sugar, adds a layer of depth.
Plus, the golden flecks of flax seeds, almonds, apricots, and raisins and the ruby red cranberries echo the colors of the autumn that is drawing to a close.

I love all of this about it, but my most favorite part may be the fact that when you cover this crunchy granola in milk, the milk turns a lovely shade of orange.  It betrays the secret pumpkin that coats each oat flake... each nut.  And if you are craving some "sweet", you can always drizzle it all with a bit of maple syrup or honey before you take that first bite.

Pumpkin Almond Flax Granola (+ homemade pumpkin puree)

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: ~60 minutes
Keywords: bake breakfast snack vegan vegetarian soy-free almonds flax pumpkin oats fall winter

Ingredients (~9 cups)
  • 4 c. rolled oats
  • ½ c. coconut oil
  • ½ c. golden syrup
  • ¼ c. brown sugar
  • ½ c. pumpkin puree, homemade or store-bought
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 c. almonds (whole, chopped, sliced, slivered)
  • ½ c. pepitas
  • ¼ c. golden flaxseeds
  • ~2 c. dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, currants, chopped apricots or dates, etc.)
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine oats and coconut oil in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until the all of the oats are coated in oil. Stir in the golden syrup, brown sugar, pumpkin, spices, and salt until well combined. Stir in the almonds, pepitas, and flax seeds.

Scoop everything out into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Slide into preheated oven and bake for 1 hour, stirring everything around a couple of times during baking. Granola should be beautifully golden.

Remove from oven and scatter the dried fruit over the top. Mix and stir everything around. Let sit until cool and crisp, stirring occasionally.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

notes:
This granola is not overly sweet, rather just kissed with a hint of golden sweetness and spice.

homemade pumpkin puree:
If you want to make homemade pumpkin puree, simply cut a pumpkin (sugar, kabocha, regular) in half and scoop out the seeds. Set cut side down on a baking tray and roast at 400° F until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 30-45 minutes. Allow to cool until you can handle it, then scoop out the flesh and place it in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge and use within a week, or freeze up to 3 months. Use as you would canned pumpkin puree.
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I'm posting a day early, butBbe sure to head on over to check out what my 12 Weeks of Winter Squash co-host, Joanne makes this week...and then leave your winter squash links below.  This is already week number 6 of our 12 weeks- can you believe it!?



1. Pumpkin Almond Flax Granola

2. Tuscan Bean Soup with Cabbage and Winter Squash

3. Pumpkin Gingerbread Pudding

4. Kabocha Squash Millet Congee

5. Squash Gnocchi with Brown Sugared Kale

6. Gingerbread Pumpkin Bars