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.
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
Dave's Heart Healthy Pumpkin Granola
Dave's Heart Healthy Pumpkin Granola
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
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)
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...|