Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Nice Autumnal Makeover for me' Oatmeal

Ohh... now here's something worth trying: pumpkin spice granola. Fallish, breakfastish, and comforting on a chilly November morning when all you see outside are lingering mists from the brief snow and rain storm.

I think this is better than any commercial granola you can find in a box; I will admit, it inherently carries with it a softer texture because of the applesauce for oil exchange, producing this less-than-crispy texture. That in turn makes the eating experience far less of a chore for my jaw to crunch through. That, is, YES, a good thing. AND, as my mom observed, this soft granola is reminiscent of eating broken up pumpkin oatmeal cookies. Sign me up.

Try it over yogurt or with your choice of milk (cow's, soy, almond, yadda yadda), and feel autumn digesting through your system. This is a great seasonal breakfast and snack to make for those you love. Healthy too!!

Pumpkin Spice Granola

{taken from Baking Bites}

3 1/2 cups rolled oats

2 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal

~2 tsp cinnamon
~1 tsp ginger
~1 tsp allspice
~1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup plain pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup plain applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Up to 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
Up to 1 cup dried fruit

(Nut suggestions: almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds)

(Dried fruit suggestions: cranberries, raisins)

Preheat the oven to 325F and line a large baking sheet (or two smaller sheets) with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine oats, puffed rice cereal. In a medium bowl, whisk together spices, salt, sugar, applesauce (do not use chunky applesauce), pumpkin puree, maple syrup and vanilla. Whisk until very smooth. (I promise, the wet ingredients are sufficient enough to cover all of the dry ingredients-- it had me worried for a minute, to near conviction that I would HAVE to make double the amount of wet ingredients in order to coat all the dry, but no no... there is plenty to coat)

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir with a spatula or large spoon until mixture is evenly coated. Spread on prepared baking sheet(s) in an even layer.

Bake for 30 minutes, then turn over the granola carefully using a large wide spatula. Sprinkle the nuts onto the granola, then bake everything for additional 15 minutes, until either crisp and golden, which mine was NOT, or until it feels "cooked" and "crisp" enough to eat.

Cool on pan or on a fine wire rack.

Break granola up as desired and store in an airtight container. Add dried fruit before serving.

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