The Connection Runners + [RUN]

A Taste of Fall

Truth be told, I'm actually not the biggest fan of fall. Don't get me wrong, the colors are beautiful, the extreme heat of summer has abated, and holidays are the best.

However, sunset creeps towards dinnertime, nights are cold, my heating bill goes through the roof--you get the idea.

Fall also means the inevitable descent into winter- an unfortunately unpleasant season in this area!

My totalled car last winter

However, one thing I DO love about fall is the myriad of warm, delicious flavors--pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple, sweet potato, cranberry...
This week I've played around with all of these flavors and crafted a few tasty recipes with fall in mind.

First, I set out to create my weekly granola. This new "tradition" has worked out really well for me! I eat the granola with yogurt for breakfast, grab a handful as a snack, and enjoy sprinkled on top of smoothies. It stays fresh for awhile, too (not that it lasts more than a week here ;-) ). This week's granola inspiration was fall holidays (thanksgiving, halloween)... and it's all in there! Apple pie, pumpkin, cranberry, maple--packed into a flavorful healthy breakfast/snack/dessert.


Autumn Spiced Granola

Ingredients

  • 3 cups thick cut rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unsalted cashew pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup amaranth seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1 t vanilla stevia
  • 1 TBSP blackstrap molasses
  • 1 t pumpkin pie spice (ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon)
  • 1 t apple pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove)
  • 1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup TJs maple agave syrup
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the oats, nuts, seeds, coconut and flax
  3. In a small bowl mix the spices, vanilla (or vanilla stevia), syrups, and oil.
  4. Stir wet into dry and mix through, then spread on a large rimmed non-stick baking sheet
  5. Bake the granola in the center of the oven for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until nearly dry.
  6. Let the granola cool and mix in raisins and cranberries
  7. Enjoy the smell of fall in your house/apartment!

Yesterday I took a little hiatus from baking, but returned to the kitchen today to healthify some of my favorite fall flavors. First up- sweet potatoes! Now, I grew up eating grandma's sweet potato and marshmallow casserole (and yes it was delicious), but as I've gotten older I've grown to love the taste of sweet potatoes without much added. Today I made one of my favorite snacks/sides:

Pumpkin Spiced Sweet Potato "Chips"
These aren't really as crispy as chips, (although I'm sure if you cook them longer and slice them thinner they will be), but I'm too impatient and they taste delicious this way!

Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into discs

Pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, etc)
Coconut spray oil (or any spray butter)
Maple syrup or honey to drizzle

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Spread sliced potatoes on a non-stick (or sprayed) cookie sheet.
3. Spray the tops of the taters with coconut oil spray (or pam/spray butter)
4. Sprinkle spice on tops of potatoes.
5. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes. (optional- flip over and cook for additional 5 minutes- adds crisp)
6. Remove, let cool, drizzle with syrup, honey, etc.

And lastly, I set out to create pumpkin pie in a bowl that wouldn't hurt my waistline. I give you-

Pumpkin Carrot Cake Smoothie:
Oh yes, I went there with the carrots. And it was good.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup shredded carrots (I always freeze mine)
3/4 cup unsweetened soymilk
1 TJ's frozen mango half
1/2 cup Libby's pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla stevia
1/2 TBSP pumpkin butter
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 TBSP agave
Toppings: greek yogurt, pecans, autumn spiced granola
Optional: add vanilla protein powder, omit carrots

Protein, veggies, healthy fats, and grains all in a sweet, creamy bowl. Yes!

And my favorite fall activity, besides pumpkin carving...

is

The weather is perfect for this right now! I got 5 miles in today and 4 yesterday. Gotta get it all out of the system as I'm not a big winter outdoor runner.

How about you? How is fall treating you? Do you like fall flavors or are you trying to hold onto the berries and citrusy flavors of summer? Any favorite recipes to share?

Off to finish Chelsea Lately,

-Allie