Making it your own, or pumpkin mania.

Confession: I love pumpkin. Put it in anything savory or sweet and I’ll be yours forever. Around October 1, I buy pumpkin in bulkā€”half a dozen cans of the packed pumpkin and at least 3 whole ones to roast myself. In my house, eating pumpkin-y goodness is serious business. Since it’s a late summer/fall squash, we gorge ourselves on it while it lasts. And then when the first snow hits, I die a little inside because I know I’ll have to wait 365 long days to eat my beloved antioxidant filled beauty once again. I’ve got a few more weeks before that happens and I’m going to savor every morsel including this modification of Jo’s Banana Oatmeal Bars. Because of my aforementioned obsession, I thought pumpkin might make a delicious substitute for the banana in the oatmeal bars and I was right! Pumpkin and spices and raisins and oatmeal made this a fall treat. Note that the amount of spices and molasses are based on your tastes. Trust your tastebuds to guide you and give it ago. I hope you enjoy!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bars (modified from Jo’s Banana Oatmeal Bars)
2 cups oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut
2 cups of pureed pumpkin (I think sweet potatoes could be really awesome in this too!)
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon molasses (I used the darkest, most robust one I had on hand. I just love molasses but maple syrup or honey would probably be delicious as well if molasses isn’t your thing.)
Dash of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup raisins or other dried fruit
1/4 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients together and pat into a lightly oiled 9 x 9 square pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set. Let cool, cut and eat your pumpkin creation. I let mine sit out a day so they’d be extra chewy like a granola bar. Yum!

Facts about Pumpkins
Pumpkins are thought to have originated in North America. Earliest evidence is from as early 7000 BC in Mexico
They are packed with beta carotene and lutein
Pumpkins are one of the most popular crops grown in the U.S.
Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are a powerhouse of protein
Pumpkins are high in fiber
Morton, Illinois is the self-proclaimed pumpkin capitol of the world. They’ve held a pumpkin festival every year since 1966 and are the site where 90% of all canned pumpkin eaten in the U.S. is packaged.
Jack o’lanterns were first associated with the harvest season, not specifically Halloween.