Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

I know, I know.  It's March.   I should be posting about things that are green, or Irish, or make you long for Spring.  It's not pumpkin time.  But this recipe for baked pumpkin spice oatmeal has been hanging out in the "Drafts" column for far too long.  Plus, thanks to the magic of canned goods, you can have pumpkin whenever you want.  And it's always good!

I found the original recipe for this dish on Annie's Eats.  At the time, I had never heard of baked oatmeal, but this recipe featured a layer of caramelized bananas covered with a pumpkin-oatmeal mixture and my favorite spices.  It sounded great!  So I saved it and made it several weeks ago.  Thank you, Annie, for introducing me to baked oatmeal because I am now madly in love with it!

I actually would have made this recipe sooner than I did, but when I went to make it one morning I realized that it called for steel cut oats, which I didn't have and had never tried.  So I eventually bought some and gave them a try.  In case you also have never tried them, these are steel cut oats:
And these are old fashioned oats:
See the difference?  Steel cut oats are cut, rather than rolled which gives them a bit of a grittier texture.  They were more expensive than old fashioned or quick cooking oats.  But when I was looking at the label, I found that 1 serving of steel cut oatmeal was 1/4 cup dry, while 1/2 cup is the serving size for old fashioned oats.  So the cost difference probably isn't as bad as it looks.  While steel cut oats seem like they would be healthier, when I compared the nutrition facts, steel cut oats and old fashioned oats were identical.  Whichever you chose, you will be getting a great source of fiber, which is oatmeal's big draw.

Now onto the baked oatmeal.  I made a few changes to this recipe to health it up a bit.  I used margarine instead of butter to cut the fat in half, and I simply cut some of it out.  I used a pretty ripe banana.  Not one that is destined for banana bread quite yet, but one that is no spring chicken.  Why does it matter?  As bananas ripen, their starch turns into sugar which makes them naturally sweeter, while keeping their calorie content the same (a gram of starch has the same amount of calories as a gram of sugar).  So by using a sweeter banana, I was able to cut out some of the sugar called for in the original recipe.  I also doubled the pumpkin to take care of its natural sugar.  

And just for good measure, I used sugar free pancake syrup and Splenda brown sugar.  I also cut the recipe in half.  Even a half a recipe makes 4 generous servings.  Feel free to double it if you are baking oatmeal for a crowd!
And the result?  Oatmeal heaven!  This is my new favorite oatmeal recipe.  It smells amazing while it is in the oven.  And it really tastes like a splurge.  I didn't miss the extra sugar or butter at all!

This took a little more time than my standard oatmeal preparation, which is mix oatmeal and milk and nuke it for a few minutes, but it was really easy and totally worth it!  The first step is to let the steel cut oats soak in a covered mixture of hot water and margarine for 20 minutes.
While the oats are soaking, caramelize your bananas by melting some margarine in a small skillet.  
Add the bananas and a little bit of cinnamon and cook for a minute or two.  Take the bananas off the heat and let them cool until you're ready to use them.
Also while you're waiting, whisk together your pumpkin, milk, and vanilla.
When the steel cut oats are done with their nice little soak, add the old fashioned oats, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, remaining cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Add the pumpkin mixture to the oat mixture.
 Spread the bananas on the bottom of a baking dish and top with the oatmeal mixture.
Bake it at 350 for 35-40 minutes.
Let it cool slightly, then dig in!  This is baked pumpkin spice oatmeal:

Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal
1/2 cup steel oats
2 Tbsp margarine
2 cups very hot water
1 ripe banana, sliced
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/8 tsp cinnamon, divided
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 Tbsp sugar free maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Dash of ground cloves
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place steel cut oats in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of margarine.  Pour the hot water over the oats and cover the bowl.  Let stand for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make caramelized bananas.  Melt 1 tablespoon of margarine in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the bananas and 1/8 tsp of cinnamon.  Toss gently and cook briefly, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.
In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together pumpkin, milk, and vanilla.  Stir the pumpkin mixture into the oat mixture.
After steel cut oats have finished soaking, stir in the old fashioned oats, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, remaining cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Spread the bananas over the bottom of a lightly greased 1.5-2 quart baking dish.  Pour the oatmeal mixture on top of the bananas.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats

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