It's Pumpkin Spice Season!
Those delicious pumpkin spice lattes are back, and I know that makes many people happy.
As summer fades to autumn, pumpkin-spice-everything shows up at the stores. From flavored coffee to cereal to beer, few products are left untouched by the pumpkin-spice craze this time of year. Even bath and beauty products follow the trend by offering pumpkin spice scented lotions and soaps or by adding pumpkin, cinnamon, and ginger to items such as conditioner and face masks.
How can you not love pumpkin spice this time of year? As the days become shorter, the leaves change colors, and the temperatures begin to drop, and pumpkin spice triggers a feeling of cozy comfort. The taste and smell trigger memories of the holidays, family celebrations, or even the simple pleasure of cuddling up with a comfy blanket, a warm cup of tea, and your favorite book. Whatever the reason, pumpkin spice has become the single most anticipated flavor of fall.
You don't have to rely on store-bought, overly sweetened products to enjoy the flavor of pumpkin spice. Mix up your own blend and keep it on hand to add to your favorite recipes.
Pumpkin Spice Blend
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
Mix all of the ingredients together and enjoy!
I make a big batch of this and use it in a variety of ways. It's delicious on roasted butternut squash, added to smoothies, and sprinkled on yogurt. I even add a bit to some savory dishes like chili, stews, and roasts to add complexity and bring some unexpected flavor to these dishes. Of course, in most of the savory dishes, I don't want pumpkin spice to be the predominant taste, so I use it sparingly just to add a hint of flavor.
Though the pumpkin spice craze is all about the spice, and not about the pumpkin, I love to use pumpkin in my recipes. I use it to add a creamy texture, replace some fats in recipes, provide color, and as a base for many sauces. I use it to make soup, add it to smoothies, mix it with Greek yogurt, and blend it into a fall-inspired vinaigrette. Garbanzo beans, garlic, and pumpkin, along with a few other ingredients, transform into a delicious hummus. And, of course, every now and then I indulge in some delicious pumpkin pancakes - yum!
Pumpkin is a great source of Vitamin A and fiber and contains only about 80 calories per cup. It is also a good source of Vitamins C, E, and K as well as magnesium, potassium, and iron. Because it is light in flavor, it can be added to many recipes without altering the taste of the dish.
Weekly meal prep helps me maintain a healthy diet, while saving me time and money throughout the week. I have found many tips and tricks to keep meal prep to a minimum, yet have my refrigerator full of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to get me through the week. Fresh pumpkin can be used in a variety of ways, but when I need to prepare quickly, canned pumpkin is my go-to ingredient.
Baked oatmeal is a quick and easy way to prepare your breakfast ahead of time. There are many variations - banana nut, apple cinnamon, or loaded with nuts and berries. One of my favorites is pumpkin. The warm spices, oats, and pumpkin blend perfectly together for a healthy, filling start to any morning.
This recipe is easily modified based on your likes and the ingredients you have on hand. Flax seed and chia are included to add some healthy fats, but are not necessary. Cottage cheese provides a bit of protein and a little creaminess but, again, can be eliminated if you prefer not to use it or don't have any available. With a base of the oats, milk, pumpkin, and spices, you can be creative, use what you have, and develop your own tasty version of this recipe.
I keep this recipe unadorned so that I can change things up a bit during the week. I like to vary my toppings depending on what I have and based on what rest of my meals that day include. Raisins, apples, pears, berries, nuts, pumpkin seeds, Greek yogurt, and maple syrup are just a few examples of ingredients you can use to add variety.
Baked oatmeal has a firm, almost cake-like texture. If you prefer a more traditional "bowl of oatmeal" consistency, just mix in some added warm milk until it is the consistency you prefer. Or, enjoy the firm texture by warming it up and spreading with apple butter, nut butter, or a bit of honey. This is great option if you have to eat on the run!
The thickened texture of baked oatmeal allows you to easily cut it into serving size portions for later in the week. Place a few portions into single-serving containers to enjoy throughout the week. I usually cut mine into 8 pieces, keep a few in the refrigerator, and then freeze the rest for later use. Or, bake the oatmeal in a muffin pan for a grab and go snack.
Based on 8 servings, this healthy, delicious, easy-to-prepare breakfast contains approximately 150 calories, 7 grams of protein, 21 grams of carbs, and 4 grams of fat. It also contains 5 grams of fiber and more than 50% of your daily Vitamin A needs. All that, and delicious too!
Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal - "For the Health of It"
Thanks for reading!
I hope you enjoy the delicious flavors of this easy recipe.
Health Coaching, Nutrition Coaching, Personal Training "For the Health of It!"