Pumpkin Oat & Quinoa Granola

My favorite season has always been fall. I know some people are clinging onto the last days of summer, but it's officially September so I think I'm allowed to start getting excited for fall. Crisp air, foliage, chunky oversized sweaters, boots, scarves, tights, homey recipes, and of course, pumpkin everything.

 I love you TJ's- no shame in putting up 8 pumpkin items on one shelf.

I love you TJ's- no shame in putting up 8 pumpkin items on one shelf.

Last year, I felt like the pumpkin-flavored trend got a little out of hand (see right). 

I kind of got over the pumpkin. But there's really no beating the smell of pumpkin something baking in the oven. I'm ready and excited for it this fall- especially because I want to play around with real pumpkin-based recipes- not artificial flavored stuff.

Now, I am probably going to incite an outcry here, but the famous PSL that I used to love back in college now kind of makes me sick. It's so sugary (hello high-fructose corn syrup), is an unnatural shade of oompa loompa orange, and it doesn't even have real pumpkin in it! 

I don't really understand what the need for the artificial stuff is, considering the original squash is SO yum all on its own.

One of my favorite things to make with it is granola. As I'm sure you've noticed, I'm a big fan of oat-based breakfasts, whether it be overnight oats or granola bars. I love greek yogurt too, and usually top it with some fresh fruit- so this granola is an awesome topping for it, using it as cereal with almond milk, or just on its own as a portable snack to munch on when the afternoon hangry hits. 

Also, store-bought granola tends to be drenched in hydrogenated oils and added sugars. This recipe uses a touch of coconut oil and a touch of honey- the rest of the flavor and moisture to make things crunchy in the end comes from the pumpkin. 

 My awesome new  striped tea towel  from Food52

My awesome new striped tea towel from Food52

Granola is really quite quick and foolproof to make- you can include just about whatever you have lying around in your pantry, and add healthy nuts and seeds to your hearts content to boost that nutritional profile. This is the first time that I've used quinoa in one of my homemade granola recipes, and I'm really glad I did. I love all things crunchy, and this adds an extra toastiness to the granola as well as bumping up the protein content. 

 Never say no to cacao nibs and pepitas.

Never say no to cacao nibs and pepitas.

I am writing this post right now shortly after making this, and oh sweet lord. If my apartment smelled like this all the time, I think I would live in blissful pumpkin-lined clouds all day. There is a reason why pumpkin-scented candles are so popular, especially around the holidays!

 Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Pumpkin Oat & Quinoa Granola

*makes about 4 cups

Ingredients

3 cups of raw, rolled Oats
1/2 cup of Quinoa, rinsed & patted dry*
1/2 cup of raw Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
3/4 cup of Dried Cranberries (apple juice sweetened)
1/4 cup of Cacao Nibs
2 tbsp Flax Seeds
2 tbsp Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend**
1/2 cup of pure Organic Pumpkin Pureé (canned is fine!)
2 tbsp organic unrefined Coconut Oil
1 tbsp Honey

*Rinse quinoa w/cold water in a fine mesh strainer to get rid of the saponin
**Cinnamon, Ginger, Lemon Peel, Nutmeg, Cloves, Cardamom

Recipe

1. Preheat oven to 325º F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

*you may need to make this recipe in 2 batches- I did!

2. Combine all dry ingredients (oats, quinoa, pepitas, cranberries, cacao nibs, flax seeds, spice blend) in large bowl.

3. Combine wet ingredients (pumpkin purée, coconut oil, honey) in a small bowl.

4. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, and stir until thoroughly combined and spread granola mix evenly on parchment paper atop baking sheet.

5. Place baking sheet in oven. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden-brown and toasty. 

6. Remove from oven and completely cool. Transfer to an airtight container and store. No dairy so granola will keep for some time!