Pumpkin Cranberry Granola, plus the Granola Formula!

Pumpkin granola that actually contains REAL pumpkin... and not just a little, but a lotta pumpkin is what's in store for you today! Plus, everything that pairs well with pumpkin ~ mmm, yes, please!

We are huge granola fans around here. We eat it with nut milk, top yogurt with it, eat it on the trail, make cookies with it and sprinkle it on muffin batter. Buying it is expensive though... plus, I like a lot of "stuff" in my granola. I also like to be in charge of the ingredients and experiment with enticing flavor combinations.

I first started making this pumpkin granola when I was a baking & pasty arts intern at Pietree Orchard in Sweden, Maine. I had the privilege of creating several signature varieties to highlight each season. Pumpkin granola was always a favorite. I've since tweaked it some more to get it just right.

This Pumpkin Cranberry granola is everything you love about fall - warm, spicy, crunchy, slightly sweet, sharp and chewy in every bite.

You can make it with as much or as little "stuff" as you like. I'm including some tips on how to save $$ on the "stuff" too.

What makes this one special:

~ contains multiple grains

~ contains BOTH pumpkin flesh and pumpkin seeds

~ contains dried cranberries AND candied ginger

~ contains warm spices

~ lightly sweetened

~ 100% plant-based

~ loaded with antioxidants, fiber and essential nutrients

The Players:

Rolled Grains. I like to include an assortment of thick-cut rolled grains (also called flakes). Oats, spelt, wheat, barley and rye are all good choices. The macronutrients are fairly similar. Spelt contains a bit more protein, but oats have more soluble fiber. They each offer different types of both soluble and insoluble fiber and probiotics - to keep the good bacteria in the gut healthy and happy.

Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are great heart-healthy foods because they contain unsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols (a substance that can help lower cholesterol) and L-arginine, a conditionally essential amino acid which may help improve the flexibility of arterial walls. Although all nuts and seeds are beneficial, walnuts top the heart-health list because of their high omega-3 fatty acid content.

The red walnut is fairly new to the market. It is the result of cross-breeding and tastes like the English walnut but a bit creamier and less bitter. [Not everyone finds walnuts bitter, and not everyone thinks cilantro tastes like soap. I'm sure there is a gene responsible, but I haven't discovered it yet.] You can read more about them HERE.

The ORAC value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity -a lab technique used to quantify the total antioxidant capacity of a food) has not yet been tested for red walnuts. It is expected they will prove to be the highest antioxidant nut available.

Dried Fruit. Dried fruit, especially if you can find it unsweetened or sweetened with fruit juice, adds natural sweetness, a chewy texture and visual appeal. Cranberries and pumpkin are an ideal match - they both ripen during the fall. Ginger root is also harvested during this season and candied ginger cut into small pieces offers an exciting zing of flavor!

Pumpkin Puree. Adding real pumpkin not only gives this granola fantastic color, it also boosts the vitamin A content considerably and adds extra fiber too. Roast and mash your own pie pumpkin or use canned.

A Little Sweetness. I use grade B pure maple syrup, but honey, brown sugar, coconut or date sugar can also be used.

A Little Fat. I used coconut oil because that's what I have on hand and it needs to be used. Avocado or Grapeseed oils are also a good choices. Fat allows the grains to crisp and brown nicely while baking at a low temperature.

Spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and a pinch of sea salt combine to impart the heady aroma associated with "pumpkin spice".

Now that you know the cast, let's put 'em to work! PRINT HERE

Total Time: 1 hr. 15 minutes - 1 hr. 45 min. Prep Time: 15 minutes Bake Time: 60-90 minutes

Here's what you'll need for ~16 cups of Pumpkin Cranberry Granola:

1 cup coconut oil

1 cup pure maple syrup, grade B if possible

2 cans pumpkin puree, 15 oz each or 3.5 cups total

1 tsp sea salt

2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1.5 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cloves

10 cups rolled grains (oats, spelt, barley, rye in any combination)

2 cups pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

2 cups walnuts (red walnuts if they're on sale!)

2 cups dried cranberries

1 cup candied ginger, diced (those harder pieces are great here!)

The Process:

1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the maple syrup and stir to combine. Stir in the pumpkin puree, spices and sea salt, thoroughly combining.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the rolled grains, walnut and pumpkin seeds.

3. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the grain mixture. Stir until thoroughly coated.

4. Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly distribute the mixture between the four pans. Spread evenly.

5. Bake at 250 degrees F for 60-90 minutes, stirring and rotating pans (if necessary) every 20 minutes.

6. When golden and crisp, remove from oven, return to a large mixing bowl and stir in the dried cranberries and candied ginger.

7. Allow to cool thoroughly, then store in airtight containers. Enjoy!

This formula works well for a number of flavor options:

1 part oil

1 part sweetener

3.5 parts fruit or squash puree (this is optional - cooking time will be less without it)

10 parts rolled grains

4 parts nuts and seeds

3 parts dried fruit or candied peels (ginger included here)

Spices to taste

For Apple Cranberry Granola:

Use concentrated apple juice for the sweetener

Omit the ginger & use 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon and 3/4 tsp ground cloves or allspice

Use unsweetened applesauce for the puree

Use 1.5 cups dried cranberries and 1.5 cups dried apples (diced) for the dried fruit

For Date Pecan Granola:

Use 3/4 part date sugar and 1/4 part black strap molasses for the sweetener

Use 3/4 part pecans and 1/4 part sesame seeds for the nuts & seeds

Add 2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract per 10 cups rolled grains

For Cherry Almond Granola:

Use sliced almonds or whole chopped almonds for the nuts

Use dried Bing or Montmorency cherries (or a combination of the two)

Use 1-2 tsp almond extract per 10 cups rolled grains (taste after 1 tsp for strength)

Add 2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract per 10 cups rolled grains

For Tropical Granola:

Use dried mango and pineapple for the dried fruit

Use a mixture of cashews, Brazil nuts and macadamia nuts

Add 2 parts large flake unsweetened coconut

Add 2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Add 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon and 2 tsp ground nutmeg per 10 cups of rolled grains

For Chili Lime Savory Granola:

Use sesame oil for the fat (untoasted or a mixture of both toasted and untoasted)

Use 3 parts cashews and 1 part sesame seeds for the nuts & seeds

Add 2 Tbsp lime zest and 1/2 cup fresh lime juice per 10 cups of rolled grains

Add 2 Tbsp lemon grass paste per 10 cups of rolled grains (optional)

Add 2 Tbsp dried (ground or finely crushed) Makrut (Kaffir) lime leaves

Add 2 tsp ground ginger per 10 cups of rolled grains

Use 1 part dried dates (diced), 1 part candied ginger (diced) and 1 part large flake unsweetened coconut for the dried fruit

Add 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari per 10 cups of rolled grains

Add 1 Tbsp smoked paprika per 10 cups of rolled grains

Add 1-2 tsp cayenne pepper per 10 cups of rolled grains (optional)

Some other options:

Try using dates, figs, apricots or cherries.

Try using pecans, almonds, pistachios, peanuts, Brazil nuts.

Try using sesame, sunflower or hemp seeds.

Try replacing 1 part rolled grains with 1 part wheat germ or oat bran.

Try adding 2 cups nut butter in place of the fat per 10 cups of rolled grains (needs to be 100% nuts or may need to be thinned with water first)

Nutrition information is for 1/2 cup of granola made with coconut oil.

How to save $$ on the "stuff":

~ Check for bulk bin options and compare prices. Often a better price can be found scooping your own from the bulk bins.

~ Check discount stores. I've often found Bob's Red Mill products deeply discounted if they are near the expiration date.

~ Check online. Great deals can often be found through Amazon.

~ See if there's a food co-op of buying club near you that you can place an order through.

~ Look for dried fruit (or candied ginger) that has been marked down for aesthetic reasons or has gotten slightly hard. Both are still useable for granola.

Have some more $$ saving tips? Drop them below so we can all save more!

DISCLOSURES: None. This post was not created in affiliation with any product or brand. The opinions expressed are my own. I will only write about products I use and trust.

NOTE: All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on A Seat at My Table so credit is given where credit is due. Thank you!

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CatherineeBrown@hotmail.com  603-237-1012  PO Box 253 Errol, NH 03579