Ancient Grain Pumpkin Fig Granola

by Sarah on October 11, 2011 · 11 comments

So part of my job is getting to taste new products that we get on the store shelves, everything ranging from ice cream and chocolate to salsa and BBQ sauce. This month, I’ve had to say ‘no’ to a lot of the items we sample due to my vegan challenge, which, aside from the sadness of not being able to try the brand new peanut butter mochi ice cream treats we got in from Hawaiian-based Bubbie’s, has not been all that bad of a situation.

One thing I have been able (and oh, so willing) to try?
Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola.Can we talk about how yummy this is for a minute?
Of course we can. It’s my (currently vegan) blog and I do what I want.
Made with coconut oil, oats, chia seeds, amaranth, and varying seeds and fruits according to flavor, these granolas are gluten-free, vegan, and amazing in a way that should be spell uh-mazing.*
*And I only WISH I was being paid (in granola) to say that.
But although I was lucky enough to fill a little salad dressing container with some to taste and put on my morning oats, was I going to pay $8.99 for a box?

Y’all know the answer to that question by now:
Hells to the no!
(Sorry Elizabeth, I love your product. Just not the price.)

But never fear my little chickadees…although it’s been a long while since I’ve proven it to be true, I was once something of self-proclaimed Granola Goddess.* So I knew there was only one thing to do: make my own vegan-friendly granola.
*Chai Granola, anyone?
I decided to model my first attempt at vegan granola (although to be fair, my previous granolas were only NOT vegan in the addition of egg whites, which most of the time I didn’t even use) after my favorite of the Purely Elizabeth varieties: Pumpkin Fig.

[That’s mine. Not hers.]

First, I mixed together oats, chia seeds……and amaranth,* an “ancient grain” of the Aztecs full of protein and iron that, when cooked, sort of dissolves in your mouth like Pop Rocks, and, when ‘raw’ has a nutty texture and a flavor slightly like cornmeal.
*Austinites, we don’t have this in bulk at Central Market, only pre-packaged, but you can find it in the bulk bins at your local Sprouts!Then I added in some pepitas, those little green pumpkin seeds that have the same addictive munching quality of hulled, roasted sunflower seeds.*
*But do they make for as amazing nut butter? Hmm….now THERE’S a project!As I stirred this all together, I mulled over how to better incorporate pumpkin into this recipe. Based on the ingredients of the original, the “pumpkin” just came from the addition of the pepitas. Well, in this ‘Purely SMART’ version, we were going for the real thing.I don’t know how I thought of this, but I imagine my knowledge that the secret to crisp granola is actually water (or fruit juice)——led me to deduce that pumpkin water would be the best choice EVER.*
*I also turned back into a 14-year-old wannabe cheerleader at that moment.^
^I’m not being stereotypical. I actually was a 14-year-old wannabe cheerleader.
I also added just a smidge of sucanat, some pumpkin pie spice, and a my loveable new vegan’s-best-friend: dark amber maple syrup.Then, I started mixing……and marveling in how orange it was turning.Although I abandoned the notion of changing the name of this deliciousness* to Oompa-Loomp-ola, I did give in to the temptation just to mix the rest of the mess with my hands.# [SO much easier.]
*And yes, it did taste delicious pre-baking. Don’t ask me how I know.
#OK, fine. That’s how I know.
And then…it was time. Time for what I know you’ve all been waiting for since you read the title of this post. That’s right, y’all…I went into the deep recesses of the tucked away cabinet above the fridge, where I keep three secret, “yes, you’re my roommates but if you touch these I will cut you” treasures: my monogrammed painted wine glasses, the chopsticks my stepmom brought me from China–
—and this: my mom’s granola pan.
The secret to making great granola is this pan, which came from Goodwill years ago, but I like to think has a very rich back story. When my mom bestowed it upon me for my blog’s centennial post…well, let’s just say it was a big moment in my life, culinary or otherwise.
But because y’all can’t have a Mama Smart Granola Pan of your very own (at least not until the deal goes through with HSN) you will have to settle for another metal pan, or glass pan lined with foil.
Toss it in the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, stopping after about 15 or 20 to stir. I made a small batch, so normally the pan would be fuller, and I’d stop every 10 minutes…just a little FYI.
Meanwhile, chop up some dried figs. [I used Black Mission left over from my Sticky Toffee Sara(h)bars, but Calmyrnas or other Turkish figs would work too.]
After about 40-45 minutes, take the pan out of the oven and stir in the dried fruit. You may also drizzle on more maple syrup if you like.Five more minutes and you’re done!
OK, you aren’t…but your granola is.

This is a not-too-sweet but very crunchy granola, with a complexity coming from the pairing of round chia and amaranth and toasted oats, along with a nutty taste from the pepitas and a slight overtone of pumpkin flavor. The figs scattered throughout are perfection, and balance out the texture.

It’s really too much fun NOT to share.

So lucky Lindsay (my dear Foodie Pen Pal for October!)…guess what’s headed your way soon?
For everyone else…I suggest you get into the kitchen.
Quickly.
‘Purely SMART’
Ancient Grain Pumpkin Fig Granola
[Inspired by Purely Elizabeth]

3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/3 cup amaranth
6 Tbsp. roasted, unsalted pepitas
3 Tbsp. sucanat (or brown sugar)
3 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup dried figs, chopped

1. Combine first seven ingredients (oats through salt) in a large mixing bowl. Stir well.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree and water.
3. Pour pumpkin liquid over oat mixture and stir well to coat.
4. Drizzle maple syrup over everything, stirring well to combine.
5. Spread granola into a metal baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring every 10-15 minutes.
6. Remove granola from oven and stir in dried figs. Return pan to oven for 5-10 more minutes.
7. Remove from oven and try not to eat it all immediately. [Granola will continue to crisp slightly as it cools.]

**Note: The photos in this post show 1/3 of the recipe. I have done all the math so you can make a larger batch!

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