Last week I was stuffing little paper sacks with homemade granola, Halloween pencils and erasers, and fairy princess glow wands for the little trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. We only had a few little ones this year, but they were all quite enchanting. So there I was at the starting line of the holiday season trying to perfect a gluten-free, dairy-free “treat” for my special trick-or-treater, my daughter Heather. I wanted something healthy but delicious, something that could be the star of the dessert table (Think ahead to Thanksgiving.) or a healthy midday snack, something—above all—that involved chocolate and pumpkin. Because… it was Halloween, ya know.

What I landed on was a combination of two recipes: one for granola bars and the other for dairy-free baked pumpkin pudding that I have always loved to make in the fall. Putting the two together—with just a bit of tweaking—produced a wickedly rich, substantial dessert that just screamed autumn. What’s more, it gave me a chance to roast my first pumpkins of the year. If you recall the pumpkin post from last year, you know I’m a firm believer in cooking those pumpkins that decorate the porch—who puts food on the front porch and then just throws it away?

So, before you get the fright of your life looking at the long ingredient list below, let me say that this recipe is flexible. For the granola bar bottom, you need the two cups of oats, one and one half cups of nuts, coconut, or seeds in just about any combination you wish, and about one brimming cup of chopped dried fruit. Add in a little coconut flour and your choice of spices with liquid ingredients (Yes, there is pumpkin puree in the bar, too.) and you are good to go. The pudding top is even simpler: All the ingredients go into your mixer bowl ( or even blender, maybe) and from there on top of the uncooked granola bar. So not so bad, right? Be brave.

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Gluten-Free Pumpkin Almond Bread

Delicious Living’s Gluten-Free Pumpkin Almond Bread is, quite simply, delicious!

The idea for the granola bar crust came from a favorite Delicious Living Magazine recipe for Chewy Fruit Granola Bars. Their method of toasting some of the ingredients before baking is pretty much genius-level cooking. This step helped my hefty bars keep a nice texture, even after a few days in the frig. You can also find 14 other pumpkin recipes—including a fabulous Gluten-Free Pumpkin Almond Bread—at Delicious Living’s website. So no excuses for wasting perfectly good pumpkin this year!

Speaking of green ideas, Delicious Living Magazine has just published a free guide to help us all think more critically and gratefully about the food we eat. Feeding the Good Food Future is a downloadable PDF that will introduce you to innovative people like Ron Finley, aka the Guerilla Gardener, whose goal is to put more fresh produce and other good food into the hands of people whose access is very limited. You’ll read about where we are with food transparency and traceability—as consumers we should know what’s in our food, right? It’s also becoming just as important to know who grew our food. (Need I point to the farmer’s market as a perfect shopping experience for transparency and traceability?) There’s the latest information on GMO and Organic labeling. And, there’s a great article on Food Waste (my personal pet peeve) and how we can avoid it. In all, 24 pages packed with useful, research-based information, photos and video links. It’s a must have  for any green gal or guy. So I hope you’ll take a look and download a copy for yourself.

And, let me know… What great dishes are you making with your pumpkins this year? How are you curbing food waste?