It’s fall. It’s really fall and there’s nothing I can do about it. Except eat granola and drink coffee and wear wool socks. You’re probably sick of hearing me complain, and for that, I’m sorry. It’s just that the thought of frigid temperatures and no outside fun feels so… bleak.
Hence the need for this batch of granola – bring on the crunchy carbs. These maple-roasted clusters are just begging to tag along on road trips, hikes, picnics, and in your lunch box. There’s a good balance of nuts, oats, and fruit all coated in warm maple flavor with a hint of cranberry flavor to tone down the sweetness. If fall were a food, it would be this granola.
If I had been thinking ahead, I would’ve brought a big batch of this stuff along when we decided to go camping a few days ago. Then again, we would also have gotten an earlier start and arrived to the campground before 4pm. Next time, though, next time I’ll be prepared.
This year has been the year I unexpectedly fell in love with camping. At first, I think I just fell in love with the idea of it when we were planning our road trip. But after practice-camping in the backyard a few times and camping out west, it became a full-blown love affair.
With a Monday and Tuesday off from work, we loaded up the car and headed south to Brown County, Indiana. We set up our tent and built a fire to light for dinner, then headed off in search of hiking. Aside from a few long-term parked RVs and older, retirement aged people, we were the only people in the park from what I could tell. That’s another perk of working weird hours – you never have to worry about crowds.
Thankfully, we squeezed in a hike before it started getting dark. It was short compared to what we did out west, but challenging and rewarding nonetheless. We started to get hungry about halfway through and I had to laugh because I didn’t bring a single snack. Compare that to hiking in the Tetons when we brought a day’s supply of water, snacks for both of us, toilet paper, bug spray, and bear spray. To hell with preparedness!
It’s so important to make time for little getaways like this. Even if it’s just for 1 night or only a few hours of hiking, connecting with nature, going somewhere new, it’s a necessity for me. It forces me to slow down, stop working, and refocus.
Maybe for our next camping getaway, I’ll plan ahead a little better. Maybe I’ll have time to bake granola for us to take on hikes. Maybe I’ll scope out the hiking trails online and see what we need to bring. Maybe we’ll get there early enough to enjoy a picnic by the lake.
Or maybe we’ll just wing it again and throw the map out the window and not worry about what happens next.
Either way, I know I’ll be making this granola a lot in the coming months. It requires just 3 dirty dishes and some time in the oven – a small price to pay for such a crunchy, addicting snack.
You’ll love how easy it is, but not how quickly it disappears. If it’s just you, one batch will do. But if you’ve got roommates, a husband, or family around, you might as well double it if you plan on enjoying some too. ;)
- Serves: 6 cups
- Serving size: ¾ cup
- Calories: 262
- Fat: 8g
- Carbohydrates: 40g
- Sugar: 22g
- Sodium: 35mg
- Protein: 7g
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds dried and hulled
- ½ cup chopped, roasted & salted almonds
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- ½ cup unsweetened cranberry juice
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Place the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds on a parchment paper-lined pan and roast for 8 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325º
- In a medium pot on med-low heat, add the syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and cranberry juice. Heat and stir until sugar is completely dissolved then remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, and sea salt. Mix with a spoon (mixing with your hands does a much better job!) until combined.
- Place mixture back onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and spread out to fill the pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes then stir in cranberries.
- Return to oven and bake for 30-35 more minutes. Remove when still slightly "uncrunched" because it will continue to crisp up as it cools.