Autumn Granola

It’s hard to believe that less than a year ago I was a chronic weekday breakfast-skipper. On the weekends I’d slowly savor eggs on toast or whole grain pancakes, but Monday through Friday I would wake up, harried and hurried, with nothing but black coffee in my belly as I sprinted out the door. “Yea, yea, I’m skipping the most important meal of the day,” I kept telling myself, “but you don’t have time!”

You make time for what’s important to you: this age-old adage is repeatedly used because it’s true. And last January, I promised myself I would eat a healthy breakfast every day. I’ve been able to keep that promise (every single day) for the last nine months because I made this morning meal (and my health) a priority. It may still be on-the-go, but it’s easier to make time for breakfast when you’ve planned ahead and have everything you need.

My go-to breakfasts are smoothies and granola. During the weekend, I make sure to shop for smoothie ingredients and freeze bananas or that I’ve made a batch of homemade granola for the week ahead. Some mornings I’ll simply eat a few handfuls with an apple, but I’ve had breakfast. And my belly is grateful.

As the temperatures dropped this week, I swapped out my favorite summery feeling add-ins like coconut and dried blueberries for dried cranberries, pecans, and pumpkin pie spice. Hope you enjoy this Autumn Granola combo as much as I have!

Autumn Granola
Makes 2 quarts

5 cups old fashioned oats, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup each: dried cranberries and coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup maple syrup
6 tablespoons flavorless oil, such as vegetable or canola
1/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees. Grind 1 cup of the oats in a food processor to coarse meal texture. Mix with remaining 4 cups of oats, salt, and pecans in a large bowl.

Heat syrup, oil, water, and pumpkin pie spice to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Drizzle over oat mixture and stir to combine.

Pour mixture into a large (18-by 12-inch) rimmed baking sheet coated with vegetable cooking spray. Working a handful at a time, squeeze cereal to form small clumps. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir in dried cranberries. Continue to bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes longer. Let cool and serve. (Can be stored in an airtight tin for 1 month.)