Pumpkin Granola

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It's officially the first day of fall! Though I was dreading its arrival, now that it's here I'm quite pleased to wrap up in warm sweaters and drink hot tea. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought autumn had arrived two weeks ago. With the mercury falling down to chilly temperatures (especially in the early morning hours), I've started wrapping myself in winter coats, hats, gloves, and scarves only to shed them all in the afternoon when the sun is out (and feel a bit of a fool carrying my huge jacket down the streets).

Though, I will never love the arduous process of scraping the frost off my car windows before the sun leisurely decides to climb out of bed. Three weeks into September and it's already begun (goodness gracious).

Fall has always felt like the most relaxing season of the year. The earth and those who dwell in it seem to slow as the temperatures drop. Though it's the season of school and work, extra activities and projects, and settling back into a daily routine, I feel like we take more time to enjoy simpler things, like a bowl of hot soup or the warmth of a roaring fireplace. In the winter, we hibernate. In the spring, our spirits awaken from our long, sleepy nap. In summer, we rush to fit in as much as we can while the weather is warm and the sun is bright.

In fall, we calm down and stretch our limbs. We yawn, but we're not yet ready for a long winter's sleep. We just want a few more minutes observing the changing of the trees, enjoying the steam from a mug of hot cider, before we slip on our pajamas and climb into bed.

Fall flavors, to me, are simply the most comforting flavors of the yearโ€”rich pumpkin, spicy cinnamon, ripe apples, warm cider, fresh squash, hints of nutmeg, and large mugs of hot cocoa. The aromas alone are enough to send me to my happy place; a single bite will send me to my heaven.

And I think, if you had a spoonful of this granola, you would know exactly what I mean.

This Pumpkin Granola embraces fall and all its flavors. This granola is fall. Stuffed with feel good healthy foods, like dried cranberries, raisins, coconut flakes, almonds, and pumpkin seeds, this granola is sure to please any season-ready palate. My favorite part of this granola is that is does not have butter or oil to hold it togetherโ€”the pumpkin does that for you. Sweetened with hints of maple syrup and brown sugar, this granola holds the perfect texture. Make this to celebrate the arrival of fall. Make it so you can remember all the reasons why you love autumn.

One Year Ago: Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Pumpkin Granola

Yields about 6 cups

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Stir in the brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the oats, dried cranberries, raisins, almonds, coconut, and pumpkin seeds, stirring until granola is evenly coated. It will be moist.

Spread out evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes and stir the granola around. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before storing in an air-tight container. Granola will crisp up once it has cooled down.

Serve with milk, yogurt, or eat it plain and by the handful.