Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

On chilly mornings, I really want a bowl of something warm and filling before I leave the house. It's made using only quick oats, canned pumpkin, maple syrup, dried cranberries, walnuts, pumpkin pie spice, some water, and a tiny pinch of salt, is quick and easy enough to make even on a hectic weekday morning.

This oatmeal tastes like autumn in a bowl. It is warm and slightly sweet from the pumpkin and maple syrup, with a bit of crunch from the walnuts. The dried cranberries have a soft texture after being mixed into the oatmeal, and they add a delicious, slightly tart flavor. The pumpkin pie spice, which usually includes warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, and allspice, was devised with pumpkins and autumn in mind.

To make Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal:

What you need (makes two servings):

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. real maple syrup (or to desired sweetness)
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, plus some for sprinkling on top of the cooked oatmeal
How to do it:
  1. Bring the water and salt to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quick oats and cook, stirring, for one minute.
  2. Turn the heat down very low. Stir in the canned pumpkin, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice. Taste, add more maple syrup and/or pumpkin pie spice, if desired. Warm the ingredients through, stirring constantly.
  3. Pour the cooked oatmeal into two bowls. Sprinkle each with the walnut pieces, dried cranberries, and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
  4. Enjoy!

This meal is full of healthy ingredients! The pumpkin has a huge amount of vitamin A, and is a clever way to sneak an orange vegetable into breakfast. The oats have lots of dietary fiber, and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, and selenium. Even the maple syrup adds nutritional value - it contains smallish amounts of iron, calcium, and appreciable amounts of manganese.

Finally, this meal is pretty cheap. Starbucks (not an altar to frugality, I know, but still) charges something like $2 per serving of its "perfect oatmeal" - meaning that oatmeal for two would cost around $4 plus tax there. This meal can be made for a lot less than that, especially since canned pumpkin is usually on sale during autumn(!), and it takes less time to make than you'd spend waiting in line or in the drive-through at Starbucks. Also, I haven't had Starbucks' oatmeal (or McDonald's oatmeal, for that matter), but I'd bet you anything that this pumpkin oatmeal is better. Try it!

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