Starting your day with a healthy serving of fiber has been shown to have many health benefits. High fiber foods keep you feeling full longer and have been associated with heart health and a reduced risk of some types of cancer. As a high fiber whole grain, oatmeal is a great choice for breakfast. In addition to being easy to make ahead, oatmeal is abundant in glucan, a type of soluble fiber that has been shown to help lower total cholesterol.
- 1 Tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Organic Flaxseed Meal + 3 Tbsp water
- 2 ½ cups water
- 2 cups 365 Everyday Value Organic Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
- ½ tsp Rumford’s Aluminum-Free Baking Powder
- ½ cup Pacific Organic Pumpkin Puree
- 1/4 cup 365 Unsweetened Almond Butter (crunchy or smooth)
- 2 tsp organic cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp organic nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp organic ginger
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp NuNaturals Organic Stevia (optional)
- 2 tsp Simply Organic Pure Vanilla Extract
- Preheat oven to 350F
- In a small bowl, whisk together flaxseed meal & 3 Tbsp water to make a “flax egg” then set aside to thicken
- In a baking dish, combine oats & baking powder
- In a large pot, heat the water, pumpkin puree, almond butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, sea salt, stevia (optional) & vanilla over medium heat & cook 2-3 min, whisking to combine
- Remove pumpkin mixture from heat & stir in flax egg then pour over oat mixture & stir well to coat
- Transfer baking dish to oven & bake 35-40 minutes
Make this recipe for Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal with Almond Butter ahead of time and a healthy breakfast will be easy all week. Simply store in an airtight container and reheat on the stove with a bit of water.
Anatomy of Oats
Let’s start by talking about the different types of oats. When shopping for oats, you’ll find 2 main types: steel cut and rolled oats. Both come from the grain known in its whole from as groats. Oats are simply groats with the outer hull removed but their germ intact. The germ is where you’ll find the heart healthy unsaturated fats.
Steel cut oats are whole oats that have been roughly chopped. They resemble small pieces of rice and have a wonderful firm, chewy bite. They take slightly longer to cook than rolled oats, but are well worth the wait.
Rolled oats, also called old-fashioned oats, have been steamed and pressed to allow for quicker cook times. Instant oats are a type of rolled oat that have been further chopped then pre-cooked.
Since instant oats have a lower fiber content and often contain added salt and sugars, old-fashioned oats or steel cut oats are going to be your best choices. Both old-fashioned oats and steel cut oats have a similar nutrition profile.
Our Favorite Brands
Once you’ve chosen your type of oat, your next decision is which brand to buy. Oats have been a hot topic lately since the Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a report on glycophosphates in common breakfast grains. Glyphosate is an herbicide branded as RoundUp that has been associated with adverse health effects, like cancer, by the World Health Organization. It is common practice to spray these types of plants just before harvest, resulting in a high concentration of glyphosate. This makes for an easier harvest, but at a high cost to consumer health.
Of the products tested, this controversial herbicide was found in almost all of the conventional grains and about a third of the organic grains. The conventional grains were all above the EWG’s recommended safe levels, while the organic grains were all well under that threshold. Lucky for us, EWG shared their findings and we can confidently recommend some safe brands: 365 Everyday Value and Nature’s Path Organic.
Oatmeal is well known for being a vehicle for sweet toppings so it’s important to be mindful when choosing your preparation. Skipping the common sugary toppings doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. Spices, like the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in this recipe, can add warmth and flavor while also offering antioxidant benefits.
Pairing oatmeal with high protein foods, like almond butter, makes for a well-rounded and flavorful meal. A little almond butter goes a long way so it can be used sparingly. Our favorite brands are those that don’t contain added salt and sugar, like 365 Everyday Value or Barney Butter. Both of these products are minimally processed, have great ratings by the EWG and are high in natural fibers.
Vegetables, like the pumpkin in this recipe, are another great way to add flavor and fiber. Be sure to look for organic pumpkin puree over pumpkin pie filling, which often has added sugars. When you look at the ingredients list, the only thing listed should be pumpkin. We love Pacific Organic Pumpkin Puree for it’s simple ingredients and thoughtful brand philosophy. You can also opt to use fresh pumpkin puree or another pureed vegetable, like butternut squash, to put your own spin on things.
While the flavors of the almond butter, vegetables and spices are great on their own, some might crave a little more sweet. We recommend natural sweeteners, as the Institute of Medicine does not encourage consumption of artificial sweeteners. Honey or maple syrup can quickly rack up the sugar content, so instead try a naturally derived sweetener like Stevia. The FDA has dubbed stevia as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) based on scientific data. Look for an organic stevia that doesn’t contain fillers like maltodextrin and inulin, which can be tough on the GI tract. NuNaturals Organic Stevia is a great option, and a little goes a very long way. Just 1/64 of a tsp of this stevia is as sweet as 1 tsp of sugar. You can opt to leave the stevia out of the recipe below, and sprinkle sparingly to your taste after it is baked.
This is a “green” choice for all diet types but there is always room for tweaking to fit your individual preferences. You can opt for any type of nut butter here, or change the flavor profile up a bit by using pureed sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin. You can also play with the flavors to find the combination right combination for you.