Happy Autumn! While I waited until it was truly fall in late September to start enjoying fall foods, I am completely embracing and enjoying fall tastes with apples, winter squash, and of course pumpkin. I do have to say though, that while at Trader Joe’s last week, the amount of processed pumpkin foods on every end cap and stand in the store was scarier than anything I will encounter on Halloween.
Anyway, I am so excited to share this recipe! While I love my gluten free almond meal pumpkin muffins, the texture of these new ones really hit the spot with Sunday brunch this past week. I actually adapted it from a pumpkin cookie recipe and originally intended to put chocolate chips and nuts inside the batter but was distracted with other food prep. I am happy I forgot because the drizzled chocolate and crushed maple chia nuts on top add a little crunch to the light, fluffy and tender texture of this delicious pumpkin spice muffin.
I was a little late in finding out that January has been deemed “National Oatmeal Month”. It didn’t make a difference though as I could probably eat oatmeal twice a day all year long and never get sick of it- it’s my answer to “if you were stranded on a desert island and could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?”.
There are different types of oats you may run into. You want to stay away from oatmeal packets. They are much more processed and often contain less fiber & protein and much more sugar. The “low sugar” varieties almost always have artificial sweetener added – there’s no reason for that!
The least processed oats you’ll see on the shelves are steel cut. They have a little more of a gritty texture compared to what most people are used to and do take much longer to cook (about 30 minutes). I make steel cut when I have a lot of time on my hands and I generally add extra water and cook for longer so they’re a little more mushy in texture. Rolled Oats are essentially steel cut oats that have literally been flattened by rollers; they cook much more quickly (less than 5 minutes) and can be eaten raw too. Quick oats are rolled and/or cut into smaller flakes and can cook in as little as 1 minute.
There is a lot of hype about how much better steel cut oats are for you but other than digesting a little more slowly, the nutrient content is virtually the same as rolled or quick oats. Below I used rolled oats in all of my recipes but plan to make crock pot steel cut apple oats in the near future and will post that too.
Other than tasting amazing there are many reasons to eat oatmeal:
Oats contain soluble fiber which is known to bind to and excrete cholesterol from the body
They offer more heart benefits due to the antioxidants that prevent damage to the “bad” LDL cholesterol in the body. One serving also has virtually no fat and 0 grams of cholesterol.
A compound in oats called beta glucan has been found to benefit the immune system and is associated with better blood sugar management in type II diabetics
Because of the minimal processing compared to other grains in our food system, oats retain a lot of the mineral selenium which is a powerful cancer fighting antioxidant that also benefits the heart
You can find oats labeled “gluten free” if you have celiac disease or a wheat intolerance*
Oatmeal is one of the best breakfast options for athletes pre-competition (or practice/workout). It provides sustained energy from carbohydrates since they are absorbed slowly. Eat one serving (1/2 cup dry) with 1/2-1 banana (depending on your calorie needs) 45 minutes-1 hour before a race.
A half cup serving also contributes 5 grams of protein to your diet
Other nutrients you’ll get in high amounts include zinc, potassium, iron and folate
Inexpensive! I buy organic oats from the bulk section at Whole Foods for next to nothing. Sometimes I switch it up and have Country Choice organic multigrain oat cereal. There are often $1 off coupons on mambosprouts.com.
Quick & convenient to cook
*All recipes below are gluten and dairy free & vegan. Be sure to purchase oats labeled as “gluten free” if you have celiac disease. While oats are naturally gluten free, there is possibility of contamination with gluten in the processing facilities.
Oatmeal Prep Basics
One serving of rolled or quick oats is a 1/2 Cup or if you have a food scale, measures out to 40 grams.
*After boiling about 1 cup of water, add the 1/2 cup of oats and reduce to a simmer.
Leave uncovered and stir frequently. When the oats are at the desired consistency remove from heat.
Instead of adding sugar or sweeteners, I generally add a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract for a flavor boost.
Jazz up the oatmeal with one of the options below.
*If you need to double, triple, quadruple the recipe, follow directions on the container as the more servings you make, the less water you may need.
Option 1 is my favorite way to have oatmeal; with almond butter & a banana.
My favorite almond butters are either the “raw creamy unsalted” version from Trader Joe’s or the grind your own option at Whole Foods. Obviously the latter is the most fresh & least processed but the creaminess of the T. Joe’s one gets me. These 2 options are also very economical at about $4.99/lb versus other brands which can run from $10-15 on average. I saw one brand at whole foods last week that was $34.99! Crazy!
Most of the time I weigh out fats on the food scale. Even healthy fat sources are very Calorie dense and that can sneak up on you easily! This includes oils, earth balance, nuts & nut butters.
I usually weigh out 1 tablespoon of almond butter which is 16 grams and stir it into the oatmeal well. Top with a small sliced banana and drizzle a teaspoon of honey and you have a delicious, filling and energy boosting breakfast – or even afternoon pre-workout meal (cause we know athletes should never eat just 3 meals…)!
Nutrition information per serving:
Total Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 7 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 58 g
Fiber: 8.25 g
Protein: 10 g
Sodium: 2 mg 0 % Potassium: 625 mg 13 %
**vitamins & minerals are listed as % daily value; you may need more
than 100% each day if you’re an athlete, have a deficiency disease, or other medical concerns
Option 2: Hemp hearts, chocolate & peanut butter
Hemp Hearts add crunch to the oatmeal and provide healthy fats, protein & omega-3. I first tried hemp hearts after the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) when I picked up a free sample from Manitoba Harvest. I am a big advocate for plant based diets and after trying hemp hearts, they’ll stay on my grocery list.
For this recipe, I add 1 Tablespoons ofhemp hearts, 1/2 a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter (I use Whole Foods or Wegmans brand organic creamy PB), and 3 squares of Green & Blacks brand 70% chocolate bar, chopped.
Mix well and eat up!
Nutrition Information Per Serving Calories: 314
Total Fat: 15.5 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 34 g
Fiber: 6.5 g
Protein: 12 g
Sodium: 38 mg 3 % Potassium: 195 mg 4 %
After cooking I added 1/2 Cup blueberries and 2 tablespoons pecans (14 grams). I just break apart the pecan halves myself and add them to the oats. I sprinkled some organic cinnamon on top for added flavor & antioxidants.
*This is a fairly low calorie breakfast. To have an adequate meal you can have an egg on the side, or cook with soy or almond milk instead of water.
Nutrition Information Per Serving Calories: 275
Total Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 40 g
Fiber: 8 g
Protein: 7 g
Sodium: 2 mg 0 % Potassium: 250 mg 5 %