Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Protein-Packed Pumpkin Granola

This post reminds me of a time when I was about 8 years old. I've always been very creative and felt very comfortable experimenting and making "substitutions" in recipes to suit myself. In fact, in high school each of my friends had a different type of cookie that I had designed for them and would occasionally whip up a batch and bring it into school for them. Anyways, I tried to make ice cream for the first time when I was 8. I found the recipe in a Highlights magazine, which said I could make it in a coffee can rather than an ice cream maker so I decided to give it a go. I basically had nothing that the recipe called for and had never made ice cream before so we ended up with skim milk in a cup with ice cubes, sugar, raisins, and salt. My infamous "raisin ice cream." Needless to say this still provides my family with a good laugh. Although I do think that maybe I will have to make a delicious raisin ice cream some day for retribution...

Just like the raisin ice cream, this was my first attempt at making my own granola. And I chose to throw the recipe out the window. I like granola, but I've always been leery of it since I found the fat to protein ratio skewed too far in the wrong direction. I finally worked up the courage to make my own when I realized that a cereal that I had been buying was sneaking high fructose corn syrup into the ingredients! To be clear, there's nothing wrong with high fructose corn syrup on occasion. It's just that I was eating this cereal every day and I feel strongly that less refined sugars (maple syrup, brown sugar, molasses, ect) are way better for you. (Also, note how artsy I am putting my granola by fall leaves! I make no claim to be a food photographer... I'm just trying to make my food look palatable while delivering some recipes and information.)

Unlike the raisin ice cream though, this recipe is a spicy, crispy, pumpkiny success! For a 200 calorie serving, this granola hits you up with 10g of protein and only 5g of fat, as opposed to the 5g of protein and 10g of fat in regular granola. Success in turning that ratio around! I think I could further improve the ratio, but this pumpkin granola tastes so good that I definitely had to share. Couple that in with the nutritional profile of pumpkin and whole oats, which deliver a ton of fiber, iron, and vitamins and you know why I couldn't wait to share.

Protein-Packed Pumpkin Granola

1/4c vanilla almond milk
1/4c pumpkin puree
1/4c vanilla protein powder
2T brown sugar
cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, ginger to taste (add more than you think you want!)
2 1/2c quick cook rolled oats
1/2c nuts (I used a combination of almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds)
~1/4c maple syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Combine pumpkin, protein powder, sugar, almond milk and spices in a bowl to make a paste.
3. Add in oats and nuts. Stir until coated.
4. Grease a baking sheet (or several if your large one is currently preoccupied like mine...) Spread granola mixture evenly. Drizzle with maple syrup.
5. Bake for a total of 30 minutes. Stir you granola at 15 minutes and at 25 minutes, adding an extra drizzle of maple at these time points if you desire.

Enjoy and feel good about the vitamins, protein, and omega-3s you're eating!

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