Ahhh, October! The absolute best month of the year! OK, I am slightly biased, since I was born in October and I met my husband on a clear, crisp October day two years ago. But I know I’m not the only one who feels the magic of this month. During the day, the temperature and changing leaves call for hikes, apple picking and open windows. At night, it cools enough to be appropriate for cuddling, hot cider and sweatpants. Is there any more perfect combination?
A month ago, I honored one of my favorite fall foods, the apple, in my Grain-Free Apple Cheddar Muffins. Now that we’ve climbed into the heart of autumn, its time to pay homage to another…the pumpkin!
Pumpkin has become so ubiquitous in fall cooking (and decorating, and coffee) that grocery stores herald the changing seasons with massive displays of canned pumpkin. Though I’m not usually a canned-food-fan, organic canned pumpkin containing no additives is a healthy, easy option. Pumpkin is packed with Vitamin A, which is beneficial for eyesight, and plant compounds called phytosterols, which have been shown to reduce “bad” cholesterol. Plus, it tastes amazing! I’ve mixed it into soups and smoothies countless times, but I wanted to create something cozy, comforting and useful for busy families.
This Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal is all of those things, and it is incredibly delicious! With just the right amount of sweetness and spice and moisture from canned pumpkin, it is decadent enough to be a dessert. Yet, it’s packed with fiber, healthy fats and protein, making it an amazingly nutritious breakfast. You can bake it for a bit less time if you want it to be more of a custard, but I prefer it as squares, that are portable enough to bring in the car with you. If you enjoy it at home, I love adding my Quick “Stewed” Apples and a drizzle of coconut milk, heated in the oven.
Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal Squares
4 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cup raw pecans, chopped
2 1/2 cups canned coconut milk (you can use the light version if you like)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon molasses
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a large shallow baking dish. I used X by X.
Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients and whisk to incorporate. Pour wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine.
Pour mixture into baking dish and spread evenly. Bake for 1 hour if you want to be able to slice into bars, or 45 minutes if you want a softer, more oatmeal-like texture.
Quick “Stewed” Apples
2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
2 apples, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces (I keep the skin on, but you can peel.)
5 medjool dates with pit in, pitted and chopped into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
Heat a cast iron skillet or saute pan to medium heat and add butter or coconut oil. When melted and coating the pan, add apples, dates, cinnamon and sea salt to pan. Saute for 20-25 minutes or until apples have softened and dates have become a paste. Stir even minute or so to prevent burning and add bits of water to pan as needed to prevent sticking.
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Laura Lea is a Certified Holistic chef, recipe developer and food writer based in her hometown of Nashville. Her company LL Balanced is at your service to provide easy, nutritious, family-friendly recipes that will make eating healthy a pleasure and restore balanced to your life. Laura Lea is a Certified Holistic Chef, not a registered dietician, nutritionist or doctor, and her opinion should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult one such licensed professional before making any significant changes to your diet.