Feeling autumn with pumpkin, cranberries

Do you really know what you’re eating? When asked this question, many would reply “sure” and point to the nutrition label on the packaging of their product. However, the ingredients on a nutrition label are often too difficult to pronounce, much less understand.

Consuming meals and snacks you have created from unprocessed foods removes the challenge of deciphering the unfamiliar and mysterious terms of a nutrition label.

This pumpkin-cranberry granola bar recipe is made of all-natural ingredients. Whole grains, nuts and dry fruit deliver a delicious fall treat with no added preservatives or fillers.

Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Director of Fitness Melanee Wood explained the benefits of creating food at home rather than buying packaged products.

“I love that I can make these bars myself so that I know they don’t have preservatives or hidden sugars in them,” Wood said. “I think the most important key to dietary success is being prepared. If I have healthy options available, it makes it much easier to stick to a healthy diet.”

Store-bought granola bars can contain added sodium or sugars to enhance taste. They are usually marketed as being healthy, but a glance at the ingredients and nutrition facts often says otherwise.

Marketing senior Dustin Vandenberg described the natural flavor of the granola bar.

“I liked how it didn’t taste extremely salty like a lot of granola bars do,” Vandenberg said. “It also didn’t taste like a candy bar. It tastes just like a granola bar should.”

Finance senior Blythe Perez was surprised at just how healthy and delicious a homemade granola bar can taste.

“I’m not usually open to new foods, but the granola bar was delicious. I could taste the first month of fall,” Perez said. “By trying new things, you may find healthy foods tastier.”

This is the season for cranberry or pumpkin spiced treats. The next time you crave a fall favorite, reach for a homemade pumpkin-cranberry granola bar.

Pumpkin-Cranberry Granola Bar

Makes 12 servings
Serving size: 1 bar, 1.5 x 4.5 inches

You will need:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • One 9 x 9 in pan
  • Wax paper


  • 3 ½ cups dry old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup blanched, sliced almonds
  • 1 ½ cups walnuts halves & pieces
  • 1 cup granola
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 ½ cups peanut butter
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons pumpkin spice
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon


Place oats, almonds, walnuts, granola and cranberries in a blender or food processor. Pulse until a dusty texture is achieved; you should still see small chunks of oats, nuts and cranberries. Place contents in a large mixing bowl.

Add peanut butter, coconut oil and honey to a medium sized bowl. Place in microwave for 90 seconds or until contents are completely melted.

Add melted peanut butter, coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract, pumpkin spice and cinnamon to bowl. Combine ingredients. Mixture should be difficult to stir and a bit crumbly.

Line pan with wax paper. Spoon the mixture into pan.

Press the mixture with the palm of your hand until it feels stiff and will not press anymore.

Place pan with mixture in the fridge. Allow to cool for about 2 hours.

Remove from fridge. Pull wax paper out of pan. It should pull out easily without breaking.

Cut across the middle. On each half, cut six equal parts.

To store, simply wrap each bar in wax paper or saran wrap.

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