Planning for the October Unprocessed challenge (Pumpkin Spice Granola)

If I could sum this post up in five words, I would say, in true Joy the Baker fashion,

October Unprocessed. Get into it.”

However I feel I owe you at least a little background, followed by a look at how I’m gearing up for the annual whole foods challenge. The motivation? That has to come from you, but if you are already a regular reader of this blog, I’m guessing that you would be totally down with this challenge. (There I go again with the Joy-isms.)

What is the Unprocessed Challenge?

Andrew of Eating Rules is a terrific guy with a fantastic message about healthy food. His goal behind the October Unprocessed challenge is to try to get as many people as possible off of processed foods and eating whole, healthier foods during the month of October. The thought behind this goal is to show people that they will ultimately feel better after the challenge – and hopefully be inspired to improve their long term eating habits.

What are the ‘rules‘?

“Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with readily available, whole-food ingredients.” – Andrew Wilder.

Sounds do-able, right? After all, we’re already on the whole food track here at Simple Bites.

You may remember that we cut our teeth on October Unprocessed for a week last year. There was the menu plan, and the follow-up recap of the week, highlighting a few of our favorite recipes. I also wrote a guest posted for Andrew and shared Seven Ways to Survive October Unprocessed with Kids, which I’ll be putting to practice again this year.

This time around I’m feeling better equipped for taking on the whole month. We’re feeding a baby real food, after all; that is even more incentive to keep our diet unprocessed. Sure, Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up in October, but both this naturally sweetened apple pie and this rustic maple pecan pie are unprocessed, and as long as we have pie, we’re all set.

Gearing up for October Unprocessed

Since I’ve already used blockquotes twice in this post, I may as well add one more. It’s a good one.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin

I believe that quote is 100% applicable for this challenge. By taking a few steps now to plan for the month, we are further ensuring our chances of lasting the full 31 days. Here’s what I’ve got down for the next few weeks:

Stocking the pantry with wholesome ingredients

We’re definitely proponents of stocking the pantry for success and this can’t be more essential than during October Unprocessed (okay, maybe during holiday baking). I’m already set with quite a few canned goods, but I plan to investigate and update my dry goods.

That also includes clearing it out of current ‘processed’ foods that we may be tempted to eat!

Making a menu plan (or four)

A proper menu plan is a live saver on an average week, and completely essential for a busy family of 4 1/2 during the Unprocessed challenge. A menu plan will help you stock your pantry, figure out your meal options, facilitate a one-stop shop, and finalize your October unprocessed challenge. It’s a vital step in succeeding with this project.

Go ahead and plan for the month if you are feeling ambitious. Be sure to check out Andrew’s blog, Eating Rules for daily posts with plenty of recipes and DIY inspiration throughout the challenge. Psst! I’ll have one in there, too.

Cooking/Baking Up a Few Staples

Over the next few weeks, I’ll try to work in a few extra whole foods projects such as whole wheat buns or salsa. I find that if I have all the ingredients on hand, I can usually bake/cook up something extra while I’m preparing dinner.

Alaina’s book, The Homemade Pantry, will be very helpful in this area. She’s got some great recipes for crackers, hamburger buns, and breads that I can’t wait to try. Here are a few staples I’m hoping to make from scratch:

Granola is already made and stashed and I’m sharing the recipe below. If you’ve never made your own, then this simple Pumpkin Spice Granola with Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), is a good start.


October Unprocessed 2012


What You Can Do

Enthused? Excited? Here are seven steps you can take to join October #Unprocessed.

  1. Sign the pledge. And join 800 others as you do so.
  2. Discuss the challenge as a family.
  3. Set a goal. Three days? A week? The whole month?
  4. Make a menu plan.
  5. Blog about it and add a badge to your site.
  6. Follow the #Unprocessed hashtag on Twitter.
  7. Read Eating Rules for daily updates and tips in October. (Look for my guest post coming soon.)

Pumpkin Spice Granola – simple and unprocessed.

This recipe hails from the lovely new cookbook The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods,and is so simple and delicious. I hope you give it a try.

I will be featuring the Sprouted Kitchen cookbook in a new Bite this Book post and giveaway on Friday, so stay tuned!

Photo credit: Hugh Forte © 2012

Pumpkin Spice Granola with Toasted Pepitas

This recipe was adapted from Sara Forte's The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook, which rounds out the granola with pecans and raisins. However, it's pumpkin season and I love adding nutty green pepitas to my breakfast. They toast up beautifully in the oven and complement the mild pumpkin flavour of the granola.
4.67 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfast & Brunch
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 3 cups
Calories: 500kcal
Author: Aimee


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup I used Grade B
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup pepitas pumpkin seeds
  • 3 Tablespoons sesame seeds


  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree and whisk to combine.
  • Add the oats, pipetas, and sesame seeds and stir until evenly coated.
  • Spread the mixture on the baking sheet, keeping some of the clusters of oats and seeds intact so that the finished granola will have some chunks. Bake the granola, stirring every so often by scooping the mixture from the edges of the pan toward the middle and spreading it evenly again, until dry and light brown in colour, 35 to 45 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow the granola to cool a few minutes. Cool completely before storing. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


Calories: 500kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 9mg | Potassium: 455mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 4235IU | Vitamin C: 1.2mg | Calcium: 162mg | Iron: 4.9mg

Resources for a month of whole foods and unprocessed menu plans

Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round
The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making
The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods
Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen

Do you currently eat ‘unprocessed’? Will you take the challenge?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. I am really looking forward to the unprocessed challenge. A long time ago, when I first started thinking more about what we eat, I would do the One Local Summer challenge, making one meal/day from all local ingredients. I am now trying to make most of our food from scratch and from local ingredients, and I think this challenge is just what I need to keep my momentum going 🙂

  2. We eat mostly unprocessed food. We’re going camping in October and I’m not sure I can pull off totally unprocessed while camping. But I’m looking forward to gathering some great new ideas and recipes.

  3. Brian @ A Thought For Food says

    We do our darndest here to stay away from processed foods… and that includes cereal/granola. Love this!

  4. 4 stars
    totally trying this recipe – thanks!
    We probably eat as unprocessed as you can without being “all in”. Tortilla chips, pasta, and condiments (ketchup, salsa, mayonnaise) are still in our kitchen, but that’s about it. Excited to read along with this challenge!

  5. Oh shoot! I dilly-dallied about signing up for October Unprocessed this year since we only made five days out of the week we promised last year. I signed up today, but now I need to hurry and make some good preparations — our breakfast are usually homemade but sugary (especially in autumn with cobblers, crisps, etc.) Thanks for reminding me to get ready!

  6. I’m all over this idea. If we hadn’t just moved across country (with our kitchen still in the setting up process) I would love to partake. I’ll be eagerly following along and stashing ideas, we try to eat whole foods and grains anyways.

    Good on you for doing the challenge!

  7. Love this challenge! And this granola looks amazingly delicious.

  8. Melissa @ Baking For The Boys says

    This looks delish! I love granola & pumpkin-so this looks perfect.

  9. Ha! It really is too good not to try. I saw the recipe this afternoon and made it right away! LOVING it – making this one again and again.

  10. 5 stars
    I forgot to rate the recipe the first time – 5 stars from me!

  11. Yum! I saw pumpkin granola at a farmers’ market in Saskatoon last year and have been meaning to make it ever since. Back on my list now! Can’t wait for October!

  12. I’ll have to try the pumpkin granola. Will definitely join the unprocessed pledge. I noticed my blood pressure is happy when I eat less processed foods.

  13. Love that you are doing this! My diet is pretty much all real food all the time except for some occasional Red Hot Blues… which would never be eaten if my husband didn’t bring them into our house! My health depends on my real food diet!

  14. Im so excited to do this…Its healthy for the body…Love it..

  15. I tend to eat unprocessed especially for the big meals, but what I’m struggling with now are snacks. Sure, I eat fruit and cheese and nuts, but I just ate chips and kettle corn haha! But overall, I try to stay away from processed food and pretty much anything that is packaged or already made. I guess if I was really committed I could make my own chips!

  16. With the pumpkin purée in there does it store well still?? (hubby wondered)

    • Hi hubby. 🙂 Most types of granola have a recommended shelf life of about 2 weeks and I’d say this recipe falls right into that time frame as well. You’ll notice it is a relatively small recipe and it is so good, you’ll eat it up long before then! If you want to store it longer, just toss in in the freezer in a jar or other airtight container.

      • Ok, thanks! We usually do granola recipes times 12! Hahaha – so easy to make big batches while you’re at it and we have four kids. We just didn’t know if the purée affected it any differently for storage or not.

  17. 5 stars
    My husband (who loves all things pumpkin) has made this twice in one week. It is really a perfect combo!!! The only change we made was sub flax seeds for the sesame seeds since we did not have any.

  18. You’ll probably think I live under a rock as this is the first time I hear of your blog. I was raised on a farm and spent the last years of my “working” period cooking for what was the oldest farm in America. That is until the 12th generation decided he didn’t get any satisfaction from seeing something come up from the ground. I have spent my whole life cooking from scratch…….growing, canning drying and giving all that the earth let’s me reap. I saw pumpkin granola on a blog called Homespun living and that’s how I ended up here. I may not stop and talk too often but, now that I know your out there ………I’ll be watching you! Thanks in advance for the granola recipe. As soon as we finish the batch in the closet. I’ll be making this.

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