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October 06, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

I can’t lie; I hated oatmeal as a child.  I did whatever I could to mask the taste of it going down.  That usually included topping with large spoonfuls of jam until it was more like jam with oatmeal than oatmeal with jam.

When I moved out of my parent’s house, I avoided oatmeal as much as I could.  My breakfast staples included Blueberry Eggo Waffles and those Pillsbury Toaster Strudels that were really more like dessert than breakfast (I mean, they came with icing packets!). 

And then my conscience kicked in.  Or maybe I realized that I could no longer get away with eating Toaster Strudels everyday and still fit into my favourite jeans.  Either way, I came crawling back to oatmeal.  I made it with water in the microwave.  I ate it in as few spoonfuls as possible, almost holding my breath so that I wouldn’t taste it.  I told myself it was worth it. 

Now I know that the key to healthy eating is moderation.  And I’ve realized that oatmeal can be delicious and comforting if prepared the right way.  Oatmeal and I have had a rough ride, but we’re friends now.  It doesn’t mind if I top it with pumpkin puree, brown sugar and spices, and I love how it keeps me full until lunchtime and gives me plenty of energy for all the things that need to get done. 

Making oatmeal with steel cut oats takes a bit longer, but ensures that you don’t end up with oat mush.  I like my oatmeal to be creamy on the outside, but still have a nice oaty bite.  No slop for me.  Adding milk at the end lets you adjust the thickness to just the way you like it and adds a richness that the water will not bring. 

Swirling in the pumpkin purée sweetened with brown sugar and spiked with spices makes the whole thing smell like a pumpkin pie.  Add extra brown sugar to make it as sweet as you like.  The base recipe is not that sweet.

We need this on a fall Monday morning. 

Pumpkin spice oatmeal
Serves 2-3 depending on how much you eat in the morning. 

1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups water
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp pumpkin puree
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
1/3 cup milk (+ more)
Extra brown sugar for topping (optional)

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, boil water with a pinch of salt.  When water boils, stir in steel cut oats.  Once they start boiling again, turn the heat down to low and simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

In the meantime, mix together pumpkin purée, brown sugar, and spices.  Set aside. 

Once most of the water has been absorbed and the oats are soft with a little bite (think “al dente” for pasta), remove the pot from heat.  Let stand uncovered for about 5 minutes.  Stir in milk.  If the oats are too thick for you, stir in more milk until you like the texture.  Divide among serving bowls.  Add 1-2 tbsp of pumpkin spice mixture to each bowl and swirl through oats.  Top with more brown sugar if desired. 

Serve warm. 

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