Some food, some drink.
Big on Healthy, Stingy on Time: Single-Serving Pumpkin and Spice Oatmeal.
When I'm looking to eat a quick healthy meal and I'm cooking for one, I turn to oatmeal. And with Autumn upon us, adding roasted pumpkin to a bowl of rolled oats is very appropriate. This recipe for single-serving pumpkin oatmeal not only tastes good, but is good for you. With all those raisins and pecans nestled in creamy oats spiced with cinnamon and cloves, it's really beside the point that this filling one-bowl breakfast (or lunch) weighs in under a measly 400 calories and takes less than ten minutes to make!
When it comes to lunch, I am a habitual cereal eater. Sometimes, it's out of a box (when the wife has a coupon or two), sometimes it's homemade granola, and much of time (especially in the winter months) it's oatmeal. There are times when I get downright infatuated with oatmeal at lunch. It's easily made as a single-serving, uber-quick, totally freakin' good for you, and it's one of the few things in life that the microwave cooks exceptionally well. Having just put a few pounds of pumpkin up for the freezer, I figured I'd hold a pound back out from cryo and experiment a bit with pumpkin oatmeal. Oh sure, I've thrown roasted (and sometimes canned) pumpkin in my oatmeal countless times, but it's never been a dish with any sort of real balance. Usually, I'll end up adding flavor notions here and there right until the very last spoonful, and thus I've never really written down a recipe. I've lost plenty of good recipe ideas to the ether by not writing them down, and I figured this time around was as good as any to finally nail down what I love about throwing a bit of winter gourd in my rolled oats.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
To a 1 quart microwave-safe bowl, add oats, pumpkin, raisins, pecans, salt, cinnamon, clove, sweetened condensed milk, and water. Microwave on high for 2-4 minutes or until oats are tender. Give it all a stir and let rest for 2 minutes to thicken. Top with plain yogurt, and get your grub on.
- The only thing fussy about this recipe is the fact that you have to know where every one of these ingredients is at in your pantry. Once that's been resolved it's just a matter of measure, dump, and nuke. It's only ten ingredients, so no need to get too bent out of shape about stocking your cupboards.
- So yeah; this is a microwave recipe. What about it? Oatmeal was made for the microwave; and as we're using the microwave here, we want to practice safe microwave cooking. Make sure you're using a microwave safe-container that's around twice the volume of what you're cooking so as to avoid those nasty boilovers, and a good pair of silicone oven gloves will get your dish to the table without burning your mitts.
- Speaking of rolled oats, just stop buying the quick oats. Seriously. The texture is horrendous. Leave the oat powder at the coffee shops; and if you need quick oats for baking cookies or if you require a smoother (and still identifiable) texture in a finished oatmeal, then give your oats a couple pulses in a mini prep before using.
- So, lets talk about the weirdest ingredient on the list here: Sweetened condensed milk. Really, if you think about it, it makes sense as you really can't make a pumpkin pie (or pumpkin cheesecake) without it. For the record, I tried brown sugar, maple syrup, and even brown rice syrup, and none of them added any real identifiable sweetness to this recipe until the amounts got a bit ridiculous; so canned fortified dairy it is (sorry vegans).
I promised myself that I wasn't going to put up a recipe for this here oatmeal until I was certain that all the flavors were balanced. I also promised myself that the recipe I put up was gonna be something that didn't use excess as a crutch to achieve that balance. Out of curiosity, I bootstrapped the calorie content in this recipe via some label reading and a little math just to see if my finished recipe was in sensible's ballpark:
- Rolled oats - 150 calories, 3 grams fat
- Pumpkin - 20 calories, 0.5 grams fat
- Sweetened Condensed Milk - 130 calories, 3 grams fat
- Raisins - 17 calories, 0 grams fat
- Pecans - 50 calories, 5 grams fat
- Yogurt - 17.5 calories, 0.5 grams fat
As you can see, this is a one-dish meal that's all kinds of good for you 384.5 very sensible calories with only 12 grams of [pretty good] fat. What's more, you're gonna get about a third of your dietary fiber for the day, 8 grams of protein and 150% of your RDA in vitamin A!
At the end of the day though, we really gotta talk about how it all tastes, because let's be honest: If good-for-you food always tasted good, then I wouldn't have any reason to bake Christmas Cookies. This isn't a ridiculously sweet oatmeal, there are plenty of textures to keep your chompers busy, and those spices accentuate every bite. Most importantly here, this one-bowl wonder is filling. Along with a beverage, it's just about the right amount of food to get you past noon and not make you feel like you wanna take a nap. Likewise, this is a very weekday-appropriate dish for a quick and healthy breakfast that can be whipped up in just about the same amount of time it takes to make a cup of coffee.