Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with Steel Cut Oats

It's autumn! My favorite part of this time of year is the excuse to dig up all my favorite pumpkin, butternut squash and other fall-flavored recipes. It's also time to stock up on some of my favorite spices like pumpkin pie spice, which is a homey mixture of cinnamon, ginger, lemon peel, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. Think chai tea. I've had a few different versions of Baked Oatmeal and I have loved every one. I decided to put together my own version with a "pumpkin pie" twist and some wholesome ingredients. I love the texture of this because it can be sliced into squares or even scooped into muffin tins for a nice to-go breakfast that isn't a mess in the car. My kiddos gobbled this up. I have to make sure I plan a double batch next time!

-2 cups pumpkin puree
-1 egg
-1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
-1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
-1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (a combination of cinnamon, ginger, lemon peel, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom - I used Trader Joe's brand.)
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 1/2 cups raw milk (could use almond milk, coconut milk or plain yogurt)
-2 1/2 cups steel cut oats (I used the Trader Joe's quick cook version because they are cut smaller and have a smoother texture.)
*raw honey or maple syrup to drizzle on top, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8x8 pan/pyrex with olive oil.
2. Blend together all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
3. Pour into baking dish and cover with tin foil.
4. Cook 30 minutes. Remove tin foil. Cook remaining 15 minutes. Texture should be spongy & moist.
5. Drizzle with raw honey or maple syrup if you desire.

This is the original recipe that inspired me.


Award-winning Chai Cheesecake {Gluten-free crust}

A few years ago, I entered a baking contest at the Big Fresno Fair. This Chai Cheesecake recipe won second place in the Malt-o-Meal Creations contest. The crust was made from crushed cereal made by Malt-o-Meal.

Since then I've used this Chai Cheesecake as a fall dessert special for company, baby showers, potlucks and other community events. The warm spices reminiscent of the Indian chai or tea with the creamy consistency of the cake seem to whisper fall. Don't you just want to curl up with a good book, a slice of cheesecake and a warm mug of tea?

As we continue down our healthy journey, I have been going back to some of my old favorite recipes and looking for ways to tweak them. This is a new version of the cheesecake with a nutty, almond crust instead of using the cereal. This spiced cheesecake can now be considered gluten-free although the crust will appeal to all kinds of eaters as long as they do not have any nut allergies.

I've also discovered a new "healthy" version of whipped cream, using the thick part of a can of coconut milk whipped instead. It adds a new dimension to the flavors of this dessert. Enjoy!


4 cups almond flour (I like the Trader Joe's brand because it's very finely ground.)

1/4 cup raw turbinado sugar or coconut palm sugar

1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon maple syrup or raw honey + more for cream topping

4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup organic sugar or 1/2 cup raw honey

4 cage-free large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ pint whipping cream or 1 cup very thick coconut milk (refrigerated overnight)

1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix together almond flour, sugar and butter/coconut oil in a bowl. Press into the bottom of a greased (round) 9-inch spring form or other cake pan and bake for 5 minutes to set. Remove from oven and cool.

3. Meanwhile, blend cream cheese and sugar with hand mixer. Add eggs one at a time and blend until mixture is smooth.

4. Add vanilla, ginger, cardamom, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, cinnamon. Pour over crust. Smooth top with a spreader.

5. Bake for one hour. (DO NOT open oven while your cheesecake is baking. This can cause cracks in the top. Resist the urge.)

6. Remove and cool. Chill at least two hours before slicing.

7. Whip cream or coconut milk and add honey. Spoon a dollop on top of cheesecake slices with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

This Chai Cheesecake topped with birds served as the main dessert for a recent baby shower celebrating twins. We skipped the cake and I doubled the crust part to make it look more like a nest.


A Grain-free experiment: Cinnamon-Apple & Coconut Waffles {Gluten-free, Paleo}

I've been experimenting with some of the protein-packed flours like almond and coconut flours. These are great options for gluten-free or grain-free eaters. We are not totally grain-free but we definitely have a sensitivity to wheat so we have backed off a lot, especially with our baked goods.

My hubby loves his hearty breakfast foods like pancakes and waffles. I knew I would have to tinker until we could achieve a light, yummy waffle recipe. We love these waffles because they don't leave you with that I-ate-too-much, heavy feeling. They are just superb after a long Saturday morning run. I make a double batch on the weekends and use them on Monday to make a creative waffle sandwich for my daughter's lunch.


-4 eggs
-2 tablespoons raw honey (or maple syrup or agave syrup) + more for topping
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract

-1 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
-2 teaspoons cinnamon

-1 1/2 cups almond flour
-3/4 cup coconut flour
-1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
-1/2 cup coconut, shredded & unsweetened
-2 small apples or 1 large, grated
-1/2 cup water

-sliced strawberries or apples


1. Heat waffle maker. Beat eggs until fluffy/foamy.
2. Mix in honey or agave syrup and vanilla.
3. Add in salt, baking soda, arrowroot powder and cinnamon.
4. Add flours, flaxseed, coconut. Quickly blend. To do NOT overmix. The coconut flour quickly soaks up liquid and will make the batter to thick if overmixed.
5. Grate apple and add to mixture.
6. Don't panic if it looks thick. Coconut flour soaks up the liquid quickly. Add water until desire consistency if need be. Pour onto waffle maker.
7. Serve topped with strawberries and a drizzle of real maple syrup, agave or honey.

Makes 6 heart-shaped waffles on our waffle maker, which would be the equivalent of about 10 square-shaped waffles on a regular waffle maker.

*The original inspiration of this recipe is from Multiply Delicious

100 Days of Real Food Challenge Week 7: Real food journey inspires new recipes

Homemade trail mix, including local raisins, raw almonds and gluten-free chocolate chips.

I can't believe we are winding down Week 7. I haven't had quite as much time for blogging as I would have hoped but our family has stayed pretty consistent with our commitment to the 100 Days of Real Food Challenge. The biggest personal challenge was to move my kids away from eating packaged snacks (even organic ones) throughout the day and to make more snacks from scratch or just incorporating raw veggies and fruits into their routine.

I'll admit there have been times where I've felt like cursing this challenge. It's so much easier to grab a box of crackers, a bar or Annie's Gummy Bunnies to-go. This type of real food snacking requires planning ahead, lots of chopping and a mama sticking to her guns even when she feels tired. I do believe my girls our in major growth spurts right now, which means they are hungry every hour; I need to be prepared!

Slowly but surely my kids are getting retrained to eat real foods as their mainstays. Some of our fave new snacks include homemade trail mix, carrots/zucchini sticks with homemade ranch, popcorn and hard-boiled eggs.

Community brunch, including fruit kebobs, buckwheat waffles with berry sauce and walnuts, pumpkin baked oatmeal, raisins and homemade mocha-honey coffee drinks.

Now that I have a first grader who needs to be at school by 8:05 a.m., I don't have time for my casual get-up-and-make-what-you're-in-the-mood-for breakfasts. I have to prep breakfasts the night before and even on the weekends to keep up with the new routine. This means boiling eggs, mixing muffin batter and freezing chopped fruit for the morning smoothies.

When we can afford the time, we love big brunches on the weekends. We've enjoyed some fun community meals, pooling ideas and resources like this brunch pictured above. A few families got together and we created these Buckwheat Waffles and brought the rest of the meal potluck-style. It's surprising what we can come up with when we have friends on the journey with us!

Our own version of a real food lunch includes a gluten-free almond waffle sandwich with peanut butter and a fruit salad made of seasonal fruits like grapes and pluots.

This is my first year packing a lunch for one of my kiddos. My Meilani brings her lunch to school every day. I've tried to enlist her help with the choosing and the prep so she feels excited about what she pulls out of her box. She has a "kid-safe" knife from Chefs Academy that she uses to help chop her own fruit for salad. We also stole an idea from the 100 Days of Real Food blog and now make waffle or pancake sandwiches. Meilani is a big fan! Since our family has shown a sensitivity to wheat, this is a great way to create a "gluten-free" sandwich for my girl.

The whole family can get in on assembling tacos using in-season veggies as the main and little meat for garnish. These Butternut Squash & Chipotle Chicken Tacos were a keeper.

Our dinners have also turned to focus on more veggies in season. Fall is just around the corner and we recently created these Butternut Squash & Chicken Tacos. We sauteed the chicken and chopped butternut squash in coconut oil with a little chipotle powder. Then we cut up butter lettuce and added our new favorite Cilantro-Lime Dressing. The kids had fun building their own tacos on Trader Joe's corn tortillas.

Over the weekend our friends made us Kale & Bean Tacos - a new vegetarian, protein-packed version of tacos that we all enjoyed. Last night my hubby made tacos while I was out for a long run. We called them "Everything Tacos" and used all the veggies we had in the fridge, including avocados (ok, technically a fruit), sauteed eggplant, onions and yellow heirloom tomatoes. One boneless chicken breast for all of our tacos when it wasn't the main focus. Those were some yummy, colorful tacos too!

Looking for some ideas on meal plans? Here are some of our October Meal Plans with links to our fave recipes to spark some inspiration. Bon appetit!

 October 1-7 Health-full Menu Plan

October 8-14 Health-full Menu Plan

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