If you can’t tell by veggie baking theme I seem to have adopted over the last couple of weeks, the attempt to be slightly healthier continues. Since my chilli beetroot brownies provided a very, very slightly skinnier version of the treat that contributes to probably about 20% of the reason I even have a gym membership, I decided to take it a step further. And what better and more original way to do this at Halloween than with pumpkins. Having read that about 90% of pumpkins are used for carvings, I decided to try and pay them the credit they were due as an ingredient. Besides, I am terrible at pumpkin carving so I this seemed like the next best, although inadvertent, way to celebrate.
The idea of trying to incorporate pumpkin into granola did make me slightly nervous. This isn’t unusual for my bakes, but I felt it matched the festivities at hand so decided to go with the flow. We quite often make our own granola from a book called Honestly Healthy and I have to say it is absolutely delicious! Although I personally don’t think it can be classed as extremely healthy (as granola never is) it avoids using refined sugars, so it is more nutritious. As with the majority of root vegetables pumpkin has a certain degree of sweetness, so I hoped it would have a similar function to the beetroot in my brownies in the sense that it would absorb, and therefore enhance, some of the natural sugars I added. The honestly healthy recipe uses date puree and honey for a little sugar hit, so I decided to try and replicate the richer and earthier flavour of the pumpkin by adding in some extra maple syrup. I also traded in the cashews for some desiccated coconut and threw in some raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries etc. for good measure. However I only added these in the last 5 minutes of baking. This is because I wanted them to release some of their flavour without actually burning. Trust me, after snaffling some burnt raisins in the desperation for something to pick on at work, it’s definitely not worth it.
However, I have to admit that my granola turned out pretty well. As I said I had my doubts, most of which stemmed from Mum’s scepticism and her being prime granola maker of the house, but while it wasn’t perfect, it certainly tasted good. And it looked like granola, so I’ll take that as a consolation if nothing else! I was relieved to see it came out nice and crisp; since the date puree was more syrupy than the pumpkin, I was worried the end result would be some soggy porridge-muesli hybrid that, lets face it, nobody would want. But, to my relief it was far from it. I think this is partially due to my decision to roast the pumpkin instead of boiling it. Although this may not be the traditional way of making a puree, it stops any extra moisture being added. However, I have to admit that the clusters didn’t stick together as much as I had hoped, meaning it’s possibly closer to muesli than granola. Also you have to like coconut to like this: it is quite a strong flavour if you add the amount I did. However, all the nuts and fruits can be substituted for others really easily, so you can alter to your personal preference. Either way, whatever you decide to do I hope you enjoy!
P.S. Even though I only bought a small pumpkin, I only made a small dint in said small pumpkin. Does this leave more scope for more Halloween baking? Watch this space…
Pumpkin and Coconut Granola
- 50g roasted pumpkin
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 100g oats
- 35g desiccated coconut
- 45g pecans, roughly chopped
- 15g pumpkin seeds
- A small handful of dried fruit (I used a mixture of sultanas, raisins, golden sultanas and dried cranberries)
- Preheat your oven to 160C/ 140C Fan/ 320F
- Put your pumpkin, honey, maple syrup and oil in a bowl and blitz with a stick blender until cool.
- Mix your oats, coconut, pecans and seeds in a separate bowl until combined.
- Stir the puree through the oat mix until the whole thing is coated. If you think it is looking a little dry you can always add more honey or oil.
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and spread the granola mixture across it.
- Put in the oven for around an hour or until crisp and golden, taking out every 15 minutes to stir. When you are happy with the bake, add the dried fruit and bake for another 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.