Christmas Spice Cookies with Whipped Cashew Cream Icing

Christmas Spice Cookies with Whipped Cashew Cream Icing

Christmas Spice Cookies with Whipped Cashew Cream

 

Gingerbread cookies have become a Christmas tradition of ours over the past few years, and while I have a great classic gingerbread recipe using butter, sugar, golden syrup, treacle and wheat flour, I wanted to create a healthier type of Christmas spice cookie with a lot less sugar, and no dairy or wheat.

This Christmas cookie recipe actually started out as chocolate chip cookies (which I will share soon) and slowly had spices added, sugar reduced and chocolate taken out, until they eventually became spice cookies and I realised they would make the perfect Christmas Spice Cookie.

Even though I have called these Christmas cookies, they can be eaten any time of the year and cut in any shape you like. If you don’t have cutters or a rolling pin, instead of patting the dough out flat as specified in the method, roll them into logs, chill and then cut off rounds with a knife.

These cookies are so light and more-ish we managed to almost polish off the whole first batch in an evening. Several batches later, they only got more delicious and we may have eaten our weight in christmas cookies over the past couple of weeks! Luckily, they’re a lot healthier than your standard gingerbread cookie as they’re made with a much lower amount of unrefined sugar and contain ground almonds which add a protein element.

As it’s now the week before Christmas, I wanted to decorate these cookies as I would the traditional ones, so rather than using the standard royal icing which is a mix of icing sugar and egg white, I created a slightly heathier icing from whipped cashew butter, coconut oil and maple syrup. The cashew icing pipes almost the same as royal icing, and while it takes longer to set and doesn’t go rock hard, it’s a great option or people wanting to avoid refined sugars or raw egg.

I hope you give these cookies recipe a try over the holidays and if you post any pictures to social media such as Instagram or Facebook be sure to tag #swoonfood @swoon.food so I can come and admire them! Enjoy x

 

Any questions or comments about this recipe? Leave a note in the comments section below, I love to hear from you!

 

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Christmas Spice Cookies with Whipped Cashew Cream

 

Christmas Spice Cookies

Makes: Approximately 20 cookies
Prep time: 10 minutes Chill time: 30 minutes Cook time: 10-15 minutes

100 g ground almonds
100g rice flour
150g coconut sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch Himalayan pink salt
100g coconut oil, gently melted
1 egg, lightly whisked with a fork

Whipped Cashew Cream Icing

60g coconut oil, gently melted
30g pure maple syrup
30g cashew butter

Decorations

freeze dried raspberries, crushed
freeze dried black currants, crushed

To make the cookies: melt the coconut oil by placing it in a bowl set over a pan of steaming water. Combine the ground almonds, rice flour, coconut sugar, spices, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the melted coconut oil, stirring with a butter knife until evenly combined – the mixture should look like wet crumbs. Add the egg and mix until the mixture starts to come together.

Lay some cling film out on the bench, pile the cookie mixture into the middle and top with another piece of cling film. Pat the cookie dough down into a flat round shape, and use a rolling pin to roll it out to about 5mm thickness. Seal the sides and place on a flat surface in the fridge to chill for approximately 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170ºC fan bake and line two baking trays with baking paper or silicone baking mats.

Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and place on your bench top. Loosen the cling film from the dough by peeling it off and then lightly replacing it. Do this to both sides as this will stop the cookies from sticking to the cling film and make them easier to pick up. Peel the cling film off the top side entirely, cut out shapes using cookie cutters and place on the prepared trays.

When the tray is full place the cookies back in the fridge to chill for a further 10 minutes as this will help the cookies hold their shape when baking. Gather any cookie dough leftovers back together and re-roll the dough between two sheets of cling-film. If you work fast you don’t need to chill the dough again before cutting out the shapes. But if you find it sticking too much, return it to the fridge to chill for 10 minutes.

Once the cookies have chilled place them the centre of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Cooking times will vary depending on your oven and whether you like your cookies chewy (less time) or crispy (longer). The cookies are cooked when they have risen slightly, turned a golden brown and if you lightly press the tops lightly they should bounce back.

Remove from the oven and leave the cookies to cool on the trays, then transfer to a wire rack to decorate.

To make the whipped cashew cream: place the coconut oil in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of steaming water with the heat turned off. When the coconut oil has just melted remove it from the heat. Add the maple syrup and cashew butter and whisk to combine. The mixture will be liquid at the point and needs to cool down so that it can be whipped into a cream. Either place the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes or freezer for 5 minutes until you can see it start to set around the edges. Use a whisk to whip it into a light caramel coloured cream. If it sets too hard before you can whisk it simply set it back on top of the pan of hot water for a few minutes and try whisking it again.

Spoon the whipped cashew cream into a piping bag and pipe decorations on the cookies. Place the crushed freeze dried berries on small plates and carefully dip the iced cookies into the powder.. The whipped cashew cream will take a couple of hours to set fully but can be stored in a single layer in an air-tight container in the meantime. These cookies will last up to 2 weeks iced or 1 month un-iced, whren stored in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Festive Christmas Cookie with Cashew Cream Icing

Festive Christmas Granola

Festive Christmas Granola

Festive Christmas Granola

 

I regularly make a batch of granola each month, so as it’s December I thought why not make a batch of festive Christmas granola! When I think of Christmas the colours red, green and white come to mind so I tried to incorporate these into my original granola recipe by way of pistachios, cranberries, freeze dried plums and white coconut flakes. I added christmas spices to create that nostalgic Christmas smell and flavour, and while it was baking the house literally smelt like Christmas cookies!

We have been eating this granola since the beginning of December and there’s nothing like starting your day with a bowl of Christmas cheer to put you in a festive mood. I think we’ll also be eating this granola on Christmas morning (although I suspect I will need to make another batch before then!) as the oats and nuts are nice and filling yet light enough that I know we’ll still have room for all the celebratory food ahead of us.

This Christmas granola would also make a fabulous gift, especially for someone who appreciates handmade gifts. You could seal it in a cellophane bag and tie with a festive ribbon or even better, pile it into a couple of mason jars, tie some ribbons around the tops and attach a hand written label with the recipe on it.

If you do give this recipe a try and post any pictures on Instagram I would love to see them – tag @swoon.food #swoonfood so I can come and admire them! Enjoy x

 

Any questions or comments about this recipe? Leave your comments in the section below, I love to hear from you!

 

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Festive Christmas Granola

 

 

Festive Christmas Granola

4 cups oats
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pistachios (shelled, unsalted)
1 cup walnuts
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1Tbsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp himalayan pink salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup freeze dried plums (or red fruit of choice)
2 cups coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 160ºC and line two baking trays with silicone mats or baking paper.
Gently melt the coconut oil by placing in a heatproof bowl over a pan of steaming water.
Place the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios and walnuts into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl mash the banana and combine with the honey, melted coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and salt.
Add the banana mix to the oat mix and stir well to combine, then use your hands to rub it all together. Sprinkle the granola mixture evenly over the lined baking trays, then place in the centre of the oven to bake for 20- 30 minutes, stirring halfway.
The granola is ready when it starts to colour, it will still be soft when you removed it from the oven but should crunch up as it cools. If not, return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Place the baking trays on cooling racks and allow the granola to cool. When the granola is cool enough to handle, add the cranberries, freeze dried plums and coconut flakes.
When completely cold, transfer the granola to airtight containers and store at room temperature in the pantry. This granola will last up to 6 months if stored in an airtight container.

 

Festive Christmas Granola

Mediterranean Zoodles

Mediterranean Zoodles

Mediterranean Chicken with Zoodles

 

This saucy tomato Mediterranean Zoodles recipe has been on high rotation ever since I borrowed my mum’s spiralizer (about a year ago!)… and let’s be honest here, this dish is so delicious the spiralizer is probably never going to be returned!

Even though it’s a warm dish, the Mediterranean flavours make this recipe multi-seasonal so we’ve enjoyed it in Summer through to Winter. To keep things interesting I change the herbs and spices depending on whether I want more of a Moroccan, Italian or Spanish influence, but the base of zucchini, tomatoes and your favourite protien essentially stays the same.

The recipe below is the Moroccan version, and you should be able to find the spices ras el hanout and sumac in most supermarkets. If you want to make the Spanish version simply leave out the ras el hanout and add more paprika and sumac, and for the Italian version leave out the ras el hanout, sumac and paprika and replace them with Italian herbs such as basil, oregano, parsley, thyme and rosemary.

Even though this is quite a simple dish made entirely in one pan (which means less washing up!), it’s packed with big flavours, colours and lots of plant phytonutrients.

If you don’t own a spiralizer you can still make this recipe by using a vegetable peeler to make zucchini ribbons, or simple zucchini strips with a knife. If you think a spiralizer might be something you’d get a lot of use out of, you can pick up a really simple one for about NZ$9.

Any leftovers are great for lunch the next day, and this recipe also freezes well if you want to stock up your freezer. Enjoy x

 

Do you have a favourite zoodle recipe?

Tell me in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Mediterranean Chicken with Zoodles

Mediterranean Zoodles

Note: see the notes above for tips to change this to a Spanish or Italian version.
Serves: 2 hungry or 4 standard
Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes

4 zucchini
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
Your choice of protein: e.g. tofu, tempeh, caniellini beans, 2 free range chicken breasts
1 x 400g can cherry tomatoes in juice
1 x 400g can finely chopped tomatoes
70g concentrated tomato paste
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ras el hanout
1 tsp sumac
1/4 tsp chilli powder (optional)
1 cup black olives, pitted
pink himalayan salt & pepper

Fresh coriander to serve

First prepare the zucchini by washing well and cutting off the ends. Then either spiralize them, use a peeler to create ribbons lengthways or cut into rounds and set aside. Peel and cut the onion into fine 1 cm pieces, peel the garlic and put it through a garlic press and set both aside. Prepare the protein by cutting into small strips approximately 5cm x 2cm if needed (obviously not for beans!).

Heat the olive in a good heavy based fry pan over medium heat. When hot add the onion and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onion starts to soften. Add the protein and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until protein is almost cooked through. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the cherry tomatoes and finely chopped tomatoes, paprika, raw el hanout, sumac and chilli powder. Stir to combine. Lastly add the black olives and zucchini and stir well. Leave to cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it is simmering too hard, turn the heat down at this point. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve piled on a plate (or in a bowl), topped with fresh coriander leaves. Leftovers will keep for 2 days in the fridge, heat well before serving again. This Mediterranean Zoodles recipe also freezes well.

 

Mediterranean Chicken with Zoodles

 

Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecake

Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecake

 

The Lightest Raw Cheesecake You’ll Ever Eat

These Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecakes are like no other raw cheesecake I’ve eaten to date!

They have the most amazing light and creamy, almost mousse-like texture, which is reminiscent of the cheesecakes and mousses I used to make as a pastry chef.

BUT the difference is this one is made entirely without any dairy products, gluten, eggs or refined sugar. Nick even said “I think this is the best thing you’ve made yet!”, which is saying something given he’s not usually a fan of the raw dessert variety.

 

The Secret Is In The Proportions

The cheesecake layer in this recipe has a base of soaked cashews which gives it its super creamy flavour and texture. Coconut oil provides the set and vanilla and raw cacao provide the flavours.

The key difference in this recipe is the proportions of these ingredients, and using coconut milk and a blender to create an amazing light texture. 

The base for this cheesecake is the same recipe I used for these Raw Chocolate Cheesecakes. It’s a combination of coconut, almonds, cashews, dates and raw cacao. The mild chocolate flavour of this base goes so well with the creamy chocolate and vanilla flavours of this cheesecake.

 

Why & How To Soak & Activate Nuts

The reason for soaking the cashews in this recipe is two fold. Firstly it’s to soften them so that they blend into a smooth cream. The second is to activate them. Activating is the process of soaking nuts (or seeds) in water to remove the natural inhibitor enzymes on their skins to make them more digestible.

If you’re not familiar with soaking and and ‘activating’ nuts, I’ve put some notes down below on this, as well as how to melt raw ingredients and keep them in their raw state, choosing a good quality coconut oil, and what to look for when buying pure maple syrup.

 

Make As Individual Or One Large Cheesecake

I usually make these cheesecakes in a 6 hole texan muffin pan to create 6 good sized individual servings. I find this size works for this cheesecake as it’s not overly sweet or rich. However, if you think you’d prefer a smaller serving by all means use a 12 hole standard muffin pan, and if you prefer your cheesecake as a slice, feel free to make it in an 8″ round springform pan instead.

 

Eat Chilled Or Frozen

It’s best to allow these raw cheesecakes to chill until fully set, and serve chilled. But if you need them faster, you can put them into the freezer to speed things up. If you accidentally end up freezing them, don’t worry! They defrost fast, but equally, they taste pretty amazing frozen as they slowly melt and turn into a creamy mousse cake.

Hope you give this amazing recipe a try, and if you post any pictures to Instagram I would love to see your creations! Tag @swoonfood and #swoonfood so I can find them.

Enjoy!

 

 

Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecake

 

Note on activating nuts: activating is the process of soaking nuts (or seeds) in water to remove the natural inhibitor enzymes on their skins to make them more digestible. The cashews in the cheesecake filling of this recipe are therefore activated. If you also wanted to activate the cashews and almonds in the base for this recipe they would need to be soaked and then dried. Ideally this would be in a dehydrator at 41ºC for 1 1/2 – 2 days, or in an oven on the lowest fan bake setting with the door ajar for about a day. The aim is to keep the nuts below 41ºC so the nutrients remain unaffected by heat and the food still deemed raw.

Note on melting raw ingredients: to ensure ingredients remain in their raw form and their nutrients fully intact, they must not be heated above 41º. When melting raw coconut oil or raw cacao butter, do so by placing the bowl of ingredients over a pot of steaming water with the heat turned off. This should ensure the ingredients do not heat above 41ºC.

Note on choosing coconut oil: it is important which type of coconut oil you choose. A lot of the cheaper coconut oils are heat or chemical processed which destroys the inherent nutrients that have made coconut oil so popular recently. Look for ‘cold pressed, extra virgin, organic’ or ‘unrefined raw’ coconut oil. Even though it may cost a little more, it is WAY better for you. Coconut oil contains high quantities of lauric acid which has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. It boosts your immune system and metabolism, lowers blood pressure and helps with the absorption of minerals. Even though coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is considered a ‘heathier’ fat because lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid. This means it is easily digestible and processed by your body in the same way as carbohydrates as a direct source of energy.

Note on choosing maple syrup: make sure you get the real deal! There are quite a few maple syrups out there that are just maple flavoured sugar syrup, full of additives and often high fructose corn syrup. Pure maple syrup lists only “pure maple syrup” under ingredients and is made by a natural process of extracting the sap from maple trees, evaporating off excess water and filtering to remove impurities. Pure maple syrup is an unrefined sugar and has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar. It contains minerals and antioxidants such as calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and zinc, unlike refined sugar which contains none. Maple syrup is still a form of sugar however, so while it is better choice than refined sugar it is still best used in moderation. Feel free to use less in this recipe if it suits your tastes and if you do decrease the amount of maple syrup, replace the quantity you leave out with an equal amount of coconut milk.

 

Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecake

 

Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecake

Makes: 6 or 12 mini cheesecakes or 1 x 8″ cake.
Prep time: 1 hour Soaking time: 2-4 hours Chill time: 30 minutes

Base

1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 Tbsp raw cacao powder
pinch sea salt
5 medjool dates, pitted
1 Tbsp coconut oil, gently melted (see note above)

Vanilla Coconut Filling

1 cup cashews, soaked
1/2 cup coconut milk (I used Little Islands Original Coconut Drinking Milk)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped (or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder)
pinch himalayan pink salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, gently melted (see note above)

Chocolate Coconut Filling

1 cup cashews, soaked
1/2 cup coconut milk (I used Little Islands Original Coconut Drinking Milk)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped (or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder)
pinch himalayan pink salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (see not above)

Start by soaking the cashew nuts. Place 2 cups of raw cashew nuts in a bowl, cover with filtered water and leave to stand for 2-4 hours. Drain off the water and rinse the cashews well.

Line either a 6 hole texan muffin pan, a 12 hole standard muffin pan or an 8 inch springform tin with cling film. Place the desiccated coconut into a food processor and blend until it starts to break down. Add the almonds and blend until they are half ground, then add the cashews, cacao powder and salt. Blend until the mixture looks like chunky crumbs. Add the medjool dates (ensuring you have removed the pitts!) and blend until they are well combined. Lastly add the melted coconut oil while the motor is running. Press a spoonful of mixture into the bottom of each standard muffin hole or a couple of spoonfuls into each texan muffin hole (or the whole lot into the 8″ tin) and place the pan in the fridge to set.

To make the vanilla coconut layer first gently melt your coconut oil using the instructions in the notes above. Place the 1 cup measure of soaked and drained cashews into a high speed blender (e.g. Vitamix/Blendtec) along with the coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt. Blend until smooth, you may need to use your blender stirring stick to ensure it’s evenly blended. This should blend really easily but if you do find it taking a little longer make sure you don’t over heat (i.e.cook!) the mixture as the blender blades can create a lot of heat. If it starts to feel warm place the jug in the fridge for 10 minutes or so. When the mixture is smooth add the melted coconut oil gradually through the top while the blender is running. Divide the vanilla mixture between the muffin holes (or pour into the 8″ tin) and smooth the top. Set aside while you make the chocolate layer.

To make the chocolate layer, again gently melt your coconut oil using the instructions in the notes above. Place the 1 cup measure of soaked and drained cashews into a high speed blender (e.g. Vitamix/Blendtec) along with the coconut milk, maple syrup, raw cacao powder, vanilla and sea salt. Blend until smooth, you may need to use your blender stirring stick to ensure it’s evenly blended. This should blend really easily but if you do find it taking a little longer make sure you don’t over heat (i.e.cook!) the mixture as the blender blades can create a lot of heat. If it starts to feel warm place the jug in the fridge for 10 minutes or so. When the mixture is smooth add the melted coconut oil gradually through the top while the blender is running. Gently pour the chocolate mixture on top of the vanilla layer of each cheesecake and use a spoon to swirl the tops. Place the cheesecakes either in the fridge or freezer to chill until set, approximately 30 minutes to an hour.

To serve, remove the cheesecake(s) from the tin and peel off the cling film. Place on a serving plate and decorate with edible flowers. These cheesecakes will keep, covered for up to 5 days in the fridge and 1 month in the freezer if well sealed.

 

Raw Chocolate & Vanilla Coconut Swirl Cheesecake

 

Pumpkin Pie Granola

Pumpkin Pie Granola

Pumpkin Pie Granola

 

I got the brilliant idea for this Pumpkin Pie Granola recipe came from a lovely attendee at one of the food workshops I held earlier this year.

I used my Crunchy Maple Banana Granola as a topping for a chia pudding recipe I demonstrated, and everyone commented on what a great idea it was to use banana as the whole food sweetener for the granola.

At the end of the workshop a lovely lady came up to tell me she used pumpkin to sweeten her granola and it was so good she often ate it straight as a trail mix!

Ever since that fortunate evening I’ve been meaning to try out the idea, but it wasn’t until I saw all the Halloween pumpkins about recently that it occurred to me a pumpkin pie spiced granola would be pretty fabulous!

This granola recipe is reminiscent of a mildly spiced, slightly healthier version of a pumpkin pie. Because it’s sweetened with pumpkin and only a small amount of pure maple syrup, it’s not an overly sweet granola and the sweetness will vary depending on the type of pumpkin you use. I chose to use a butternut squash for this recipe, as it has a slightly sweeter flavour than the other pumpkins that were available, and when pureed it gives a nice smooth texture.

By using pumpkin puree to sweeten this granola you gain the benefits of the inherent antioxidants and vitamins present in this humble vegetable.

Pumpkins contain high amounts of vitamins A and C, which are great for eye health, skin and immunity. They’re rich in carotenoids which gives them their orange colour, and particularly beta-carotene which also converts to vitamin A in the body. They’re also a great source of fibre and potassium.

So when combined with oats, coconut, cashews and pecans, this granola makes for a very nourishing breakfast!

Serve this pumpkin pie granola with your choice of milk (I’m loving Little Islands drinking coconut milk at the moment) and a generous dollop of yoghurt (check out Raglan Coconut Yoghurt for THE best coconut yoghurt I have tasted to date!).

This granola is also great as a topping for fruit or ice cream, or simply eaten by the handful like a trail mix. 

Enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Pie Granola

Pumpkin Pie Granola

Makes: 1 large jar / approximately 6 cups
Prep time: 30 minutes  Bake time: 1 hour

2 cups cooked pumpkin puree
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp himalayan pink salt
3 cups oats
2 cups coconut thread
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

To make the pumpkin puree, preheat your oven to 180ºC fan bake. Cut the pumpkin into quarters (leaving the skin on) and place on a baking sheet. Spread a little coconut oil over the flesh and place in the centre of the oven to cook for approximately 30 minutes.

The pumpkin is cooked when you can easily cut the flesh with a butter knife. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 150ºC fan bake.  When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, you should find the pumpkin skin easily peels away from the flesh. Either use a hand masher or food processor to puree the pumpkin flesh.

Measure 2 cups of pumpkin puree and combine it with the maple syrup, spices, salt and melted coconut oil. This can either be done in a bowl by hand or in a food processor. You’re aiming for a smooth spiced pumpkin paste.

In a large bowl combine the oats, coconut, cashews, pecans and pumpkin seeds. Add the spiced pumpkin paste and the best way to combine it all is to roll up your sleeves and use clean hands to rub it all together in the same way you would make a crumble topping or scones. Aim to rub all the pumpkin paste into the oat mix so that the mixture resembles a chunky crumble topping.

Spread the pumpkin pie granola onto lined baking trays and place in the oven for approximately 40 minutes. When opening the oven beware of escaping steam from the pumpkin as it continues to cook. Check occasionally and stir if it looks like the edge areas are cooking faster.

The granola is ready when it has turned a yellow golden brown and started to crunch up. It may still be a little soft when you remove it from the oven but should crunch up on cooling. If not, simply return to the oven for another 10 minutes or so.

Store the pumpkin pie granola in airtight containers in your pantry for up to a month.

 

Pumpkin Pie Granola

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