A handful of granola sprinkled on my morning carton of yogurt definitely makes it worth getting out of bed! I like low-fat yogurt in the morning, usually the kind with fruit mixed in, and not the Greek style. I’m sorry but Greek yogurt is just too much like eating a bowl of sour cream. Gag worthy to me! But even hubby says I’m wrong and eats it regularly, so experiment amongst yourselves and make your own choices when you eat yogurt.
I like almost any fruity yogurt except for lemon or raspberry. So ok, I’m maybe a little picky about my yogurt. But I’m also equally picky about my granola. I’ve bought and tried all kinds of granola, from cheap to pricey, and found I really only like one brand. Nature Valley® has been my favorite for a whole lot of years.
Unfortunately Nature Valley® stopped making it in boxes like cereal, so I have to buy their crunchy granola bars and beat them to smaller crumbles with my meat tenderizing mallet. Not an outrageous amount of work, but really sometimes I’m just ready for an easier breakfast snack. Without the violence and noise.
While searching online for a granola recipe I ran across a recipe for pumpkin granola and a light bulb went off in my head. I’m a pumpkin fan in all kinds of dishes, and thought the spices would be really good with granola. Searching a bit more I found many variations of the recipe. So many to choose from! First I omitted the one that had maple syrup. Not a maple fan unless it’s my smoked bacon. Then I omitted the ones that called for a lot of spices: I had a large jar of pumpkin pie spice that I’d never used and should be used soon. When I make pumpkin pie I use the individual spices.
Those two ingredients reconciled, I eliminated recipes that had added pepitas (dried pumpkin seeds), dried cranberries, or raisins. I don’t like those in my granola. And I eliminated any that had walnuts or other nuts. I wanted to use pecans, my favorite nuts.
Finally I had my recipe. I made it with trepidation, worried that I’d mess up somehow and have a pretty large batch of nastiness. But I did a pretty good job! Hubby and I both liked it and ate it up quickly for breakfasts for two weeks. It made about 18 – 20 servings when eaten with our morning yogurt. Yet it didn’t have a very strong pumpkin spice flavor and I thought it should be just a little sweeter. I didn’t want to lose its flavor in the yogurt.
My next attempt at granola I modified the sugar, honey and spice level and it was the keeper batch. I think I’ve perfected it! We’re happy with the flavors and sweetness and crunch. Oh yes, it does have a nice crunch that holds up very well in the yogurt even if you are a slow eater as you’re reading the newspaper at the breakfast table!
In my first batch I used quick oats because I had two containers left from Christmas baking. The second batch I used old-fashioned oats and there was no real difference in crunch or flavor. So use whichever you prefer, or even mix as I’ve seen recipes that use both.
5 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups pecans; chopped
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place the racks on the center two heights in your oven. You’ll need two large baking sheets, ungreased.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats and pecans. In a small bowl, add the remaining ingredients. Stir until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the oats and mix until all the oats are well coated. Pour the granola onto the prepared baking sheets, with half on each sheet. Spread the granola in the pans.
Bake for 15 minutes. With a wide spatula, mix the granola and switch them on the racks in the oven. Bake for another 15 minutes and then stir the granola; switch racks again. Bake for 15 minutes more, stir and switch. At this point, sample to taste for doneness and dryness of the granola. If it’s fairly dry, remove from oven and let cool. If the granola still feels moist, bake for another 15 minutes. Both batches I’ve made took all four 15 minute periods. And yes, I did forget which pan went on which rack, both times. It didn’t seem to matter.
The granola will still seem very slightly damp when it is properly browned, but will dry and get very crunchy as it cools. Allow the granola to completely cool before storing in tightly covered containers. Add raisins or dried fruit if you desire.