Monday, December 5, 2011

Pumpkin Granola... for Dave's heart

Being in my mid 40's and having friends ranging mostly 10 years older or younger, I'm entering that stage where we start hearing about people having health issues.  It all started not so seriously with friends holding menus farther away than they used to, but then quickly moved into more serious areas with more people than I ever imagined pursuing cancer treatments and surgeries in their fight to rid their bodies of the disease.  And just a few weeks ago a good friend of mine went through a second heart surgery.

Vegas, 2011
Meeting some 20 years ago when we both worked at a small biomass power plant near Sacramento, Dave's smile and quick wit always brightened my busy days.  Losing touch after I moved to another state I didn't hear from or about him in years.  Then somehow his face flashed across my facebook page early last year and we've been reacquainted.  Liv and I even had the opportunity to see him last year when her Nationals took us to Las Vegas.

Yesterday, though, was Dave's first day back to work after open heart surgery about a month ago.  He has struggled through the difficult times and though I haven't talked to him personally, his facebook posts are back to the bright, witty and happy person I know him to be and I know he is well on his way back to complete health.

With heart disease a risk for myself and my kids (Dad did the quad bypass a few years back), we have always worked on eating heart healthy meals and snacks in addition to receiving regular exercise (I'm really going back to the gym more regularly soon...).  

Dave's recovery was just the reason Liv and I needed to put together a heart healthy care package featuring cholesterol controlling oatmeal.  Oatmeal is high on my list of "good for you foods" with its heart healthy benefits, and this low in fat granola made with vitamin rich pumpkin, omega filled flax meal and heart beneficial maple syrup seemed to be a good choice.

Maple syrup was the surprise beneficial ingredient in this recipe.  Rich in zinc which in addition to acting as an antioxidant has additional functions that can decrease the progression of atherosclerosis, maple syrup also is a good source of manganese, a benefit to the immune system. Here the maple syrup provided not only a sweetener, but one we could feel good about.

The culmination of innumerable recipes found in my Internet searches, this Pumpkin Granola turned out, in a word: awesome.  Sweetened but not too sweet, the maple/pumpkin pie flavors truly shine and are enhanced with the crunch of the almonds and a bit of salt from the salted pepitas.  Only 2 Tbs of grapeseed oil are used in the entire recipe, working with the pumpkin, brown sugar and maple syrup to form those tasty little clumps that make granola so irresistible.

So here's to Dave...  May your heart be strong and your recovery complete and quick.  Hugs from San Diego.  XO

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Dave's Heart Healthy Pumpkin Granola
Liv Life
While me made a jar for Dave, my husband literally gushed over this recipe and polished off the rest of the granola in mere days.  His comment of "This is WAY better than the store" warmed my healthy heart and I think I know what I'm making him for Christmas.

Granola is one of those perfect homemade holiday gifts, simply pour into a pretty jar and wrap with a holiday dishcloth.  Tie with a ribbon and add a tag along with the recipe and you are set!

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
3 Tbs ground flax meal (We used Bob's Red Mill thank to a giveaway we won from Learning Patience)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
pinch ground cloves
pinch allspice
1/4 tsp salt (we tend to go light on salt, adjust as desired)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2-3 Tbs grape seed oil (may substitute your favorite oil)
2-3 Tbs maple syrup (we used an organic grade B)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 handful dried cranberries or golden raisins
1 handful whole raw almonds
2-3 Tbs salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Preheat oven to 325º.

Measure the rolled oats and flax meal into a large bowl.  Over the top sprinkle the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and pinches of cloves and allspice.  Add salt and stir to mix evenly.

In a smaller bowl, add the brown sugar, pumpkin puree, oil, maple syrup and vanilla.  Whisk well until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the whisked wet ingredients over the spiced rolled oats and stir until the oats are evenly coated.  Add the whole raw almonds and stir to incorporate.

Pour the coated oats onto a silicone mat (or parchment paper) lined baking sheet using a spatula to spread the mixture evenly.

Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.  Stir the granola and bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Stir again and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the granola is golden.  Note:  the granola will crisp up as it cools.

Remove the golden granola from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.  Add the cranberries or raisins and pepitas, stirring once again to incorporate.  Allow to cool completely before placing in an airtight container.

Serve granola with milk or over yogurt, or simply enjoy as it is!

Liv Life Note:  Your house will smell divine after baking this granola!

Someone was exhausted just watching...


  1. fellow "mid 40s" woman, I can so relate. With cholesterol issues at Casa Garcia, I'm always looking for heart-healthy snacks...and this is gorgeous. Saving!

  2. Fantastic recipe! I have some heart-healthy recipes on my blog and I recommend that you search around the American Heart Association for recipes. Also the Mayo Clinic website has good recipes. Can't go wrong with either.

  3. Awesome recipe...totally going to try and make this...I never thought to use the flax meal in this! Great Idea!

    xoxo from Trinidad

  4. As much as I hate to admit to getting older, the signs are all over the place. This granola sounds like a great way to fight back.

  5. Kim,
    My husband had a bypass, so we are all about "heart healthy eating" here. this is a perfect snack, and I'll be making some for my hubby, maybe for his stocking:)

  6. Wonderful post and recipe - love all the delicious, healthy ingredients - thanks!

  7. Fantastic gift package! Just what the doctor ordered, I'm sure :) CK and I are starting to think about taking better care of our hearts and this is a yummy way to help us get our snack fix!

  8. Sounds like a wonderful granola recipe, and a wonderfully thoughtful gift :) I wish your friend the best!

  9. I love homemade granola and making it for gifts. People always appreciate good homemade granola. I can't wait to try your recipe with flax seeds and pumpkin. Yum!

  10. That's a good-looking granola and a thoughtful gift for your friend. I'm sure he appreciates it!

  11. Aw, Kim! YOu (and Liv) are the best, putting this fabulous granola together for Dave.

  12. I love every ingredient in this recipe and knowing that it is heart healthy makes it all the better! Great post.

  13. I'm so glad that Dave has recovered both physically and emotionally from the surgery! I didn't realize that you were in your mid-40s. No wonder I like you so much, having just hit 50 this year. :)

    I'm loving this granola and think I need to add it to the family menu. Both Hubby and me have heart trouble in our family lines. Thanks for the reminder.

  14. How sweet of you to make this delicious and heart-healthy snack!

  15. Thinking of your friend and bookmarking this snack :)

  16. Thanks for a very healthful post! I am in my early 30's and so is my husband, but then there is no harm in starting to take care of our health too early...I will be serving this granola for breakfast, snacks or even just in between meals. I know I have to take care of my husband's heart, this same heart that has my name engraved on it. Almost indirectly, I am taking care of my heart too. Let's toast to good health and happy lives! I love your post!

  17. This looks awesome! I'm seriously addicted to pumpkin. :)

  18. I made one of your granola recipes earlier this year and it was delicious so I'm no fool and will be bookmarking this one as well. Looking forward to eating healthier in the new year,it feels good to make health a priority;-)

  19. That looks so healthy and delicious. Love your dog, that is precious!

  20. Love this post Kim.. how sweet for you to write about your friend and create this awesome recipe for him, it sounds delicious! My dad also had heart surgery a few years ago.. his was a tripple bypass though. Wow.. a quad? Hope your family is well and your all enjoying this bitter cold weather we're having! Thank you for your sweet comments on my blogs.. it was nice hearing from you! Happy Holiday's!

  21. Best wishes for good health to your friend Dave.
    Your granola does sound excellent. YAY for heart-healthy recipes!

  22. Grape seed oil is a genius ingredient here. I did find a pumpkin granola with no oil--applesauce, instead. I want to experiment with it to see if I can adapt it to other flavors. Maybe Dave's heart will like this too!

  23. I've made this a few times since you posted the recipe - love it! I love the flax seed and also the pepitas! Thanks for such a great recipe. I would like to post it on my blog and link back here. OK with you? :)


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