The past week here in the UK there has been notable chill in the air. It seems to have sprung on us rather suddenly. Yes it’s October, and yes it is Autumn, but nevertheless I’m sure we have all been relishing in the glorious sunshine that’s turned up a couple of months late.
The sunglasses are still in use, but now I’m fishing out my winter coats, thicker tights, roll neck jumpers and very soon knee high boots (mini squeal!) to beat the frosty breezes but still enjoying the outside air without the wish to be snuggled up in a duvet with a hot water bottle.
Living in Britain we are supposed to have four proper seasons but due to global warming we’re shifting towards the two season year. Spring for sure, you’ll see the lambs, the daffodils, waking up to sunlight in the early mornings pulls us out of hibernation. Autumn too, leaves browning on the trees and gathering in piles of hedgehog caves, the low sunlight that blinds your vision, English apples crisp and sprightly. Both these times are truly magical.
Summer and winter are on a different level. Never warm enough in July and August, no picnics in the parks or bbqs (or if you’re lucky wrapped up in blankets), your umbrella is constantly sodden by the torrential downpour and bohemian summer dresses and sandals stay packed in the cases until next year. Winter isn’t much different, cold dreary mornings that turn into dark nights, never cold enough for snow only that grey sludge that lasts an eternity, everyone suffering from SAD in desperate need for some vitamin D.
Autumn is by far my favourite, maybe due to it also being the season for my birthday (yay!), I’m sure many others also cherish these couple of months. The time to make the most of British berries, plums, pears, courgettes growing in abundance, the last of the tomatoes, game season, early carrots and the start of the root vegetables, all meaning warmth and comfort will soon be filling our mealtimes.
For many the arrival of Autumn also means it’s time for Starbucks to take over with the #psl. What on earth is that? Come on, surely you know it’s the Pumpkin Spice Latte. The drink that has landed on our soil after many years being a favourite of the Americans. They will find the excuse to put pumpkin in EVERYTHING. And then if it doesn’t contain actual pumpkin there will at least be pumpkin spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice.
Being a Brit, pumpkin only means one thing, Halloween. Pumpkin pie isn’t something we’re eager to bake and serve slices of with a mound of cream, and I don’t see people stockpiling pumpkin flavoured treats at the supermarket. I’m talking pumpkin Oreos, pumpkin spice cream cheese, pumpkin spice almonds, pumpkin spice kale chips, pumpkin pie flavour vodka, pumpkin pie flavour crisps, the list is endless I could’ve gone on on and but I think we’ve had enough of that.
We get it the Americans love pumpkin, so in homage to them and in my attempt to create something as warm and cosy as the #PSL whilst still giving you something nourishing and not laden with sugar, I’ve come up with this recipe.
Somebody else say porridge? Yes another porridge recipe, but if you’re anything like me that’s all I crave this time of year.
For the pumpkin element obviously using pumpkin would be ideal, but if you’ve ever attempted to cook the ones you can find in the supermarket you’ll well know that they’re grown more to be spooky than savoured. Instead I reached out for the humble butternut squash, or even sweet potato would work here. We’re looking for that earthy sweetness, and brilliant orange tone to bring this porridge to life. Spices are obligatory, then finely chopped medjool dates are stirred through for their caramelly sweetness meaning no added sugar is required. And of course what would porridge be without a swirl of nut butter, sunflower seed butter was what I opted for but go ahead with anything else, pecan butter would be INSANE, and of course peanut butter will always have a place in my heart.
Pumpkin Pie Porridge
- 40g / 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 125 ml / 1/2 cup water
- 125ml / 1/2 cup plant based milk (I like oat or hemp)
- 1/4 cup butternut squash, mashed**
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of turmeric
- Pinch of ginger
- Small Grating of nutmeg
- Pinch salt
- 1-2 squishy medjool dates (I find them very sweet and one is enough but alter to suit your taste)
- 1 tbsp nut butter
** The squash needs to be prepared in advance, can be cooked and kept in the fridge for around 5 days, use leftovers in a soup, as a mash for dinner, stirred into hummus, as a spread on toast or crackers, or just for this porridge every morning.
Wash the whole squash and wrap in foil. Place in an oven set at 180C for at least an hour until tender. Leave to cool.
When required, cut in half length ways and remove the seeds in the rounder section, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon, leaving the skin behind.
- The night before if you wish mix the oats, chia seeds, water and milk in a bowl and leave to soak until the next day
- In the morning if the oats have been soaked pour into a saucepan, if you haven’t soaked the put the oats, chia, water and milk straight into a pan. Then add the salt, squash purée, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and nutmeg and mix it all together.
- Place over a medium high heat until it starts to bubble, then turn down the heat to a low simmer and leave to cook for 5-10 minutes until thickened to your liking. Keep checking and stirring to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom and add more milk if you prefer it looser.
- Tip into a bowl, swirl through your nut butter of choice and add the chopped medjool dates.
- Sprinkle with more cinnamon if you like, seeds, bee pollen and whatever else you fancy. If you want to go all out on that pumpkin pie vibe, add a dollop of yogurt, cows, goat or coconut, take your pick for some extra creaminess.
Enjoy in your dressing gown and slippers, a mug of green tea in one hand, the newspaper spread on the table and the porridge warming your belly.
Sending warmth and rosy cheeks your way