Happy December, my friends!
Throughout the coming month, I am going to be posting some homemade gift ideas…tasty treats (and maybe some diy body products) you can make in larger batches to give your friends and loved ones. I’m sharing these ideas because there’s no place I’d rather be during the holiday season than in my kitchen creating healthy, eco-friendly gifts…and I imagine some of you feel the same :)
Let’s start with this Spiced Pumpkin Granola.
Homemade granola makes a great gift: it’s much healthier and tastier than what you can buy in the store. It keeps well so can be made in advance, and you can play with the packaging to vary the presentation. I like to put granola in Mason jars because they can be re-used by the recipient, but cellophane gift bags are widely available and look lovely, as well (especially when embellished with pretty ribbons).
This particular granola, with the warming spices, the subtle pumpkin flavor, and the festive dried cranberries, is perfect for the season. I packed mine into wide-mouth 1 pint jars (about 4 servings). You could use larger jars, if you like, but I prefer to give the smaller amount along with other goodies like jams I made over the summer, and small packages of homemade dark chocolate bark or toffee.
I was inspired to add pumpkin to this granola because I’ve got tons of organic canned pumpkin in my pantry (for some reason I bought 1-2 cans every time I went to the store in November), but if you don’t have any on hand or don’t care for pumpkin, you can certainly try one of my other granola recipes (here’s one and here’s another). If using one of the other recipes, make sure to scale it up so you’ll have a big enough batch for gift giving purposes. The batch you see here started with 8 cups of oats and ended up yielding about 14 cups of granola (enough to give 7 2-cup sized gifts), so use that for reference. If you want an even bigger batch for gifts, you can double this recipe; it’s not really any more work…just make sure you have a large enough mixing bowl to stir everything together.
Spiced Pumpkin Granola with Cashews and Cranberries
Yield: about 14 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
*8 cups organic rolled (not instant) oats (use certified gluten-free oats if you must avoid gluten)
*1 can/15 oz. organic pumpkin
*1 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews, roughly chopped (or use walnuts or pecans)
*3/4 cup raw hemp seeds (available at natural foods stores; use a differed type of nut or seed if you can't find them)
*1 scant tablespoon fine sea salt
*2 tablespoons ground cinnamon (I used McCormick brand Roasted Saigon Cinnamon)
*1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
*1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
*1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
*1/2 cup organic, extra virgin coconut oil (warmed so it's liquid, if necessary), or use olive oil
*1/4 cup organic butter, melted (you could use additional oil instead, if you like)
*1/2 cup maple syrup (or honey)
*1/2 cup organic sugar
*1 cup dried cranberries (all-natural, if possible)
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
2. Mix all ingredients except dried cranberries in a very large bowl. Use clean hands to make sure the oats, nuts, and seeds are coated with the pumpkin, spices, oil/butter, and sweeteners.
3. Spread the granola evenly over the two pans. Pack it together and press it down evenly with a wooden spoon or your hands.
4. Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour, breaking the granola up and stirring it around once or twice as it cooks, or until the granola is golden brown and done to your liking (strangely, one pan took 20 minutes longer to finish baking than the other). Allow to cool slightly, then mix in the dried cranberries. You can store in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks; place in the refrigerator or freezer for longer term storage.