Pumpkin Spice Quinoa Crunch Granola: A Comeback is in Order

This week, I’ve gone a bit off the beaten path. Here is it, mid July, and we’re talking about pumpkin today. Poor pumpkin has a bumpy year as far as popularity goes. As soon as September 1st hits, pumpkin is loved by all. In every store anywhere, you can find a pumpkin flavored something. Often times, the something is appropriately flavored with pumpkin, such as pie, a latte, or a piece of bread. Sometimes, however, the something is oddly flavored with pumpkin. Case in point: pumpkin pie vodka. No need people, no need. Nevertheless, pumpkin is all the rage until about December 1st. Then, it’s peppermint’s turn, and pumpkin is shunned until the next year. Pumpkin is like the teenager who peaks during Sophomore year. It’s all downhill from that point on. That point, being Thanksgiving in pumpkin’s case. 

Today, we’re inviting pumpkin back to the party with one of my new favorites: Pumpkin Spice Quinoa Crunch Granola. I don’t know about you, but granola is something I eat all year long, regardless of seasons or fad flavors at the time. Why shouldn’t pumpkin flavored granola be any different? This stuff is packed full of “Fall” favorites including, pumpkin puree, pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries. What’s even more exciting though is the addition of quinoa! Quinoa, when toasted with the granola during the baking process, adds an awesome crunch and a bit of protein to boot!

Let’s get started with arguably the most important component in granola: the crunchy stuff. Normally, in any granola you make, you’ll find a combination of oats, nuts, and dried fruit. In today’s case, we’re putting in the best Fall versions of all of the above. In a large mixing bowl, you’ll combine your dry ingredients: old fashioned oats, pecans, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice. Can’t find pumpkin pie spice this time of year? Throw in the same amount of nutmeg! You’ll notice that we haven’t put dried cranberries into this bowl. Those will come in later, after baking. 

Next up, we’re working with our wet ingredients. Most granolas are bound together by a sweetening element and some sort of oil. These ingredients ensure that some of the crunchy stuff we mixed earlier, turns into larger clusters. So, in a separate bowl, stir together the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, brown sugar, and oil.

Once the ingredients in both bowls have been combined, go ahead and marry the two bowls. When dumping the granola onto a sheet pan (that’s been lined with parchment paper), be sure to spread the mixture out evenly, so that everything has a chance to crisp up. Because the pumpkin puree makes this granola wetter than others you might have made before, it’s important that it cooks for a little longer, at a bit of a higher temperature. I baked mine at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10. If you notice that the granola is drying up and getting crispy on the earlier side, you can choose to take it out before the 30 minutes has elapsed, or decrease the temperature to 325 degrees halfway.

Here’s the hard part: after you’ve taken the granola out of the oven, it’ll need to cool completely before the dried cranberries go in. Not only will it need to cool completely, but it should left alone while this is happening. That’s right, give it a quick mix upon taking it out, and then don’t touch it! While you’re off somewhere planning on what to do with your left over pumpkin puree, or day dreaming about the days of wearing boots and scarves in the upcoming months, your granola will continue to clump up as it cools. Only after it’s completely cooled is when the cranberries can join the party. 

There you have it friends: pumpkin’s comeback. This breakfast treat will have you (rightfully) celebrating this squash far beyond it’s normal cut off date of December 1st!

Next week, I’m preparing for my trip to London. (And, by “preparing”, I mean preparing my stomach for all of the deliciousness it’ll encounter over there…) Until then, stay tuned and stay hungry!

Erin 

Pumpkin Spice Quinoa Crunch Granola
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Ingredients
  1. 3 ¾ cups old-fashioned oats
  2. 2/3 cup pecans
  3. ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  4. ¼ cup quinoa, uncooked
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  7. 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  8. ½ teaspoon salt
  9. ½ cup pumpkin puree
  10. 1/3 cup maple syrup
  11. ¼ cup brown sugar
  12. ¼ cup, plus two tablespoons canola oil
  13. 2/3 cup dried cranberries
Instructions
  1. Mix dry ingredients – oats, pecans, seeds, quinoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, salt
  2. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl – pumpkin puree, maple syrup, oil, sugar
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients in one bowl.
  4. Spread the granola onto a sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper – bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes
  5. Remove the granola and stir a final time. Allow it to cool completely, undisturbed. This will take about 30 minutes.
  6. Once the mixture has cooled, mix in the dried cranberries.
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