Friday Recipe: Spiced-Pumpkin Oatmeal

January 14, 2011

Spices
by Lana Buseman, Communications Design Specialist

I was recently watching the Food Network’s Aarti Party, hosted by Aarti Sequeira, whose focus is on Indian food made easy. On this episode, she took a traditional American breakfast, oatmeal, and put an Indian twist on it. If you have ever cooked, eaten or even been in the vicinity of Indian food, you know it is not lacking in flavor and aroma. The main reason for this is the combination of rich and fragrant spices that are the building blocks of this cuisine: curry, turmeric and cinnamon, to name a few.

What I wasn’t very aware of until recently are the benefits these spices can have for your health. For example, curry powder has antioxidants that can help ease inflammation in your joints; cumin, another common spice found in Indian cooking, can be helpful in resolving digestive problems and nausea.

Another very common spice in Indian cooking is cinnamon. Most often cinnamon is found in pastries and sweets, so the idea of this spice having health benefits might get lost in the shuffle. However, this spice can help reduce blood sugar and contains polyphenols that may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. The best part is that studies link these benefits to only ½ teaspoon a day of the spice! The scent of cinnamon is even said to help increase your alertness — a perfect reason to make this spiced-pumpkin oatmeal for breakfast!

This healthy oatmeal was created to take on a pumpkin pie flavor: what kid (or adult) wouldn’t like that? And a plus: Aarti reminds us that we are getting a serving of vegetables without even realizing it!

Ingredients

  • 1 (14-ounce) can pumpkin puree (the unseasoned kind)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk, (feel free to substitute your favorite type of milk)
  • 2 tablespoons raisins (golden or regular)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom plus 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves OR 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups quick cooking oatmeal (not the instant kind)
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Plain Greek yogurt, brown sugar, or honey (optional for serving)

Instructions

In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the pumpkin puree, water, milk, raisins, salt, and pumpkin pie spice (or alternative spices). Bring to a boil.

Add the oatmeal. Turn the heat down and cook according to your oatmeal instructions; mine usually takes about 15 minutes. Stir often.

Meanwhile, in a small cast iron skillet over medium heat, toast the pepitas until they're golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Once the oatmeal is cooked (each grain should be tender), sprinkle pepitas on top and serve with your favorite toppings (it is delicious on its own as well!)

Enjoy!

Plus: If you are in the Chicago or Milwaukee areas, a great place to shop for fresh spices is The Spice House!