The west coast smelled like fir trees and cedars – likely due to a small wind storm that hit shortly before our arrival, but I’m happier romanticizing it as part of Vancouver’s charm. On a too-quick trip to hug my aunt and cousin, we managed to climb most of the way up a mountain, see a couple shows, try a bunch of beer, and enjoy some impressively sunny November weather.
West Van seemed even prettier than I remembered (“Oh my gosh, you can see the mountains from here! And the ocean from here!” etc, etc…). Or, maybe it is so beautiful out there that I just can’t help gushing. With coniferous breezes and palm fronds waving by the seawall, it seems instinctive to inhale as deeply as possible. (Woah, did I just get a little yogic/life coach-ish on you? Blame Vancouver.)
So, four days on the other side of the country did us good. Vancouver smelled like firs and cedars, and fresh baked granola every morning.
I credit my aunt with introducing me to homemade granola a few years ago. It comes together so quickly, and is such a versatile thing to bake that it quickly became a staple in my kitchen repertoire. Variations are endless, which is part of the fun. This warm spiced pumpkin and cocoa nib combination is one I have been enjoying a lot lately. I hope you do, too.
Pumpkin granola with cocoa nibs
Yields approx. 7 cups
• 3 cups rolled oats
• 1 cup raw pecans
• ½ cup raw pepitas (if they happen to be salted, you can omit or reduce the salt in the recipe)
• 1 tbsp ground flax seed
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
• ¼ cup coconut or olive oil
• ½ cup maple syrup (a little more or a little less depending on how sweet you like your granola)
• ½ cup pumpkin purée
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 tbsp cocoa nibs
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, nuts, pepitas, flax seed, salt and spices (all of your dry ingredients except for the cocoa nibs).
3. In small pot over medium heat, whisk the oil, maple syrup, pumpkin purée and vanilla until the mixture is smooth and warmed.
4. Stir pumpkin mixture into oats until the dry ingredients are evenly coated.
5. Spread granola evenly over two baking sheets (or bake in two batches), and bake until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. At the halfway mark, stir the granola a bit to ensure it all bakes evenly.
6. Remove from oven, and stir in the cocoa nibs while the granola is still warm. Let the granola cool and then store in an airtight container (it should last for a couple weeks). Enjoy with yogurt, milk, fruit, over oatmeal, by the handful, over ice cream…whatever makes you happy!
(Thank you Rachie for some hiking photos! xo)