Autumn Spice Granola

It has been an embarrassingly long time since we last shared a recipe with you. Let’s fix that, shall we?

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The inspiration for this fall-flavored snack comes from our shared and immense love for granola. It’s wholesome, snack-able, and pairs well with so many other foods. We’re talking fruits, yogurt, milk, mixing with cereal… the list goes on. (Do you mix your cereals together too, or is that just us?) One exception to this love- all the added sugar that comes with many brands of store-bought granola. Luckily there’s a very simple solution. Enter: homemade granola. You can control all the ingredients that you’re adding, including the amounts and types of sweeteners. Plus, it’s so easy to throw together!

This granola is entirely naturally sweetened with a bit of honey and apple sauce- just enough so that it’s not in-your-face sweet. The rest of its flavor comes from the pecans and combination of spices as they get all warm and toasty in your oven. Baking this granola will make your whole house smell like fall HEAVEN!

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We’ve talked about oats in some previous recipes, but we’ll mention their health benefits again here. Oats contain soluble fiber which can help lower LDL cholesterol, aka the “bad” cholesterol in the body.1 Soluble fiber has also been shown to decrease hunger and promote satiety, a feeling of fullness.2 This can be helpful for weight control if that is your goal. Or, it can simply help you make it to your next meal without wanting to cry from starvation.

Pecans possess the highest level of antioxidants compared with other commonly eaten nuts.3 Specifically, they provide vitamin E and selenium. These two nutrients help protect heart health in a slightly different way than oats. They do not lower the amount of LDL cholesterol, but decrease the amount of oxidized (damaged) LDL cholesterol.3 This is significant in preventing inflammation in the arteries and keeping them healthy overall.

Now let’s talk spices: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves are all added in this recipe. First and foremost, they’re included for their spectacular flavor. We opted to use a few teaspoons of leftover homemade pumpkin pie spice (SO easy to make) with a little extra cinnamon for a perfect seasonal combo, but of course you can add each spice individually if you don’t have the mix on hand. Either way, your granola will taste like a bowl full of warm, comforting autumn. Spices are also chock-full of health benefits. Just to name an example- cinnamon, allspice, and cloves all have antimicrobial properties. So, they prevent the growth of some types of bacteria that are harmful to us. One study used the essential oils from these spices as edible films on apples and concluded that it was enough to prevent certain pathogens from contaminating the fruit.4 Pretty interesting, am I right?

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Go ahead and give this recipe a try! We know you’ll be ~falling~ for this autumn spice granola from the moment you make it. 😉


Recipe

Prep time: 10 mins | Total time: 30 mins | Yields: 10 servings (about 1/3 cup each)

Ingredients:

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats*
1/2 cup pecans, very roughly chopped
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice**
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup all natural cashew butter***
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine oats and chopped pecans. Add pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon until well mixed. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine apple sauce, honey, cashew butter, and vanilla.
3. Add the liquid mixture to the oat mixture and mix until the oats are evenly coated. Spread out the granola on the parchment paper of baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring at the halfway mark. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before enjoying!


*Make sure to use certified gluten-free oats if you’re following a gluten-free diet.

**You can use this mix of spices instead of pumpkin pie spice: 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon + 1 large pinch ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon + 1 large pinch ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice.

***You can substitute almond butter for the cashew butter. You can also use peanut butter, however, this will alter the flavor of the granola since peanut butter is not as mild of a nut butter. If you are not using an all-natural nut butter, melt it in the microwave before combining with the liquid ingredients.


References
1. De Smet S, Gunness P, Gidley MJ, et al. Reduction in circulating bile acid and restricted diffusion across the intestinal epithelium are associated with a decrease in blood cholesterol in the presence of oat β-glucan. The FASEB Journal. September 2016. doi:10.1096/fj.201600465R.
2. Ye Z, Arumugam V, Haugabrooks E, Williamson P, Hendrich S. Soluble dietary fiber (Fibersol-2) decreased hunger and increased satiety hormones in humans when ingested with a meal. Nutrition Research. 2015;35(5):393-400. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2015.03.004
3. Hudthagosol C, Haddad EH, Mccarthy K, Wang P, Oda K, Sabate J. Pecans Acutely Increase Plasma Postprandial Antioxidant Capacity and Catechins and Decrease LDL Oxidation in Humans. Journal of Nutrition. 2010;141(1):56-62. doi:10.3945/jn.110.121269.
4. Du W-X, Olsen C, Avena-Bustillos R, Mchugh T, Levin C, Friedman M. Effects of Allspice, Cinnamon, and Clove Bud Essential Oils in Edible Apple Films on Physical Properties and Antimicrobial Activities. Journal of Food Science. 2009;74(7). doi:10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01282.x.
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