Pumpkin Chia Porridge

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It’s rainy and cold today, and under normal circumstances, I’d be dismayed that April’s around the corner and I’m still wearing a parka outside. Today, however, I’m not dismayed. I’m relieved, because I’ve had photos and a recipe for pumpkin chia seed porridge sitting in my computer for over a month, and I keep forgetting to post them, and if I don’t do it soon, they’ll start to seem highly out of keeping with the weather.

Recently, I received a tweet asking if I happened to have a recipe for pumpkin porridge. I wracked my brains, trying to think about whether or not I do. I have my pumpkin chia pudding, of course—that’s a perennial CR fave—but porridge? I didn’t think so.

Then it occurred to me: I make pumpkin porridge all the time. It’s called putting canned pumpkin into warm breakfast cereal, and it’s one of my favorite things to do. The only reason it didn’t immediately occur to me that I’m in fact a veteran pumpkin porridge maker is that “pumpkin porridge”—the recipe title itself—sounds fancier than “I dump some organic, canned pumpkin into my oats as they cook.”

But what’s in a name? Foodie though I am at heart, I’m not trying to win a James Beard award here. The purpose of my blog is to present raw and vegan cuisine accessibly, so that all of my readers will be inspired to eat it. So, as I simultaneously write my pumpkin porridge an apology note for not having realized that it goes by fancier names than the ones I call it, here’s my favorite wintery hot cereal.

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Pumpkin Chia Porridge (vegan, gluten free if you purchase gluten free steel cut oats, soy free)

Serves 1

1/3 cup steel cut oats (or a very round, heaping 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup pumpkin, canned (organic if you can)
1 cup water
1/2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
Stevia to taste
2 chopped, pitted dates
1 tbsp almond butter of choice (I like homemade when it’s possible)

1) Bring the water to a boil, and when it boils, add the oats. Reduce heat to a simmer.

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2) Add the canned pumpkin, the chia seeds, the cinnamon and nutmeg, and some stevia, if you like.

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3) Cook over low heat for 12-15 minutes, or until the oats are creamy and soft. Steel cut oats have a chewy texture, but they shouldn’t be hard. If you run low on liquid, keep adding water. (Alternately, you can cook the oats in almond milk.)

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4) Remove oats from heat. Top with chopped dates and almond butter, and a sprinkle of cinnamon, if you like.

Chef’s Notes:

1) I typically use about a called-for serving size of hot cereal, but I always use more than the suggested 1/4 cup of steel cut oats! They aren’t as voluminous as other oats are, and I need the bigger portion size to sate my appetite.

2) You can absolutely use regular rolled oats or oat bran here. If you do, you’ll be cooking them for a shorter time.

3) If you do want to be virtuous and use your own pumpkin purée, more power to you!

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There is probably a recipe for pumpkin porridge that calls for baking sugar pumpkins and scooping out the flesh, adding it to steel cut oats that have been simmering for thirty minutes, and topping it with nuts that have been skillet toasted to perfection. This is not that recipe. Instead, it’s my recipe: a recipe that reflects my lifestyle, attitude, and priorities. I’m a person who loves to do everything from scratch when I can, but I’m also a student who runs out the door bright and early. I’m a person who knows about the superiority of fresh produce over canned, but believes that canned foods (especially BPA-free canned foods) have a reasonable place in any natural foods kitchen. I’m a person who loves adding small bits of superfood ingredients—like chia seeds—to traditional recipes. And I’m a person who loves to eat—and thus delights in this generous and filling breakfast.

In the wonderful feedback to my first Green Recovery post, Katie mentioned this concern:

Now that I’m actually writing a blog and not just reading them, I definitely feel a strange pressure to have my meals or my recipes fit a certain mold. I try not to give in because obviously that’s not what a food blog should be about. So many food bloggers document their every meal, and I wonder how much of an effect (whether positive or negative) that would have on recovery.

Well said, Katie. I think most bloggers have bumped up against this feeling before—the feeling that the stuff we eat is less exciting, balanced, nutritious, interesting, aesthetic, or appealing than the food we see day in and day out on other blogs. When I started blogging, I immediately realized that there were many “food styles” in the blog world. I know which ones were not my own:

  • My food isn’t fitness-y. While I’m enough of a nutritionist to be well aware of my macronutrient balance in a broad way, I don’t plan my meals around macro ratios. I don’t go to great efforts to beef up my protein intake, and I’ve never read a traditional fitness/diet book (Brendan, you’re my only guide in that department).
  • My food isn’t always convenient or fast. Simple, yes, but not always fast. I’m more likely to spend a hot minute on a salad and dressing and dip and cracker than I am to throw together a sandwich or eat a bar. I know this tires some readers, who aren’t in the mood to chop veggies all day, but I just can’t help it.
  • My food isn’t “raw gourmet.” I almost never use my dehydrator. I don’t know much about replicating raw meatloaf or raw pie. I tend to mess up raw bread a few times before I get it right. I love making the odd raw gourmet recipe here and there, but I never sustain that level of intricacy for long.
  • My food isn’t traditionally “gourmet”, either: I don’t do reductions and coulis and soufflés. I can’t make a perfect chiffonade, and I’m hopeless with pastry. I don’t tend to think much about garnishes.

After I spent some time thinking about what my food style wasn’t, I thought about what it was:

  • My food is semi raw and all vegan.
  • My food is nutrient-dense, but it’s not a performance formula, either. It’s a balance of taste and function.
  • My food is usually very green.
  • My food is more savory than sweet. But a lot of my recipes are savory/sweet. I know, I know—it’s hard to keep up with me.
  • My food probably meets most definitions of “health food.” I like to eat sprouted things, and I like ancient grains, and I like raw kale. I care a lot about the quality and health potential of what I make. At the same time, I’m not too interested in eating only things that are 100% raw, pure, toxin-free, immaculate, and godly. I like a little daiya here and there. I like Field Roast. I like whole grain bread. I like coffee. Sometimes I even like soy creamer in my coffee. It’s a nice balance.

Of course, there are other tendencies that define my food style and personal taste as a cook, but these are the principle ones.

If you’re a new blogger, I encourage you not to spend too much time comparing. If you’re in good health and you enjoy your relationship with food, then there’s no reason why you should look at anyone else’s blog and think “Gee. Maybe I’m supposed to be eating like her.” If you started blogging because you love to eat, then chances are you’re doing a pretty great job of it already. Get inspired, sure. But don’t change too much. We want you in our community because you’re not exactly like us—you have a style of your own to offer! And we want to hear about it.


EDITED TO ADD: New Yorkers! Are you around on Tuesday night? Would you like to hear some side-splitting jokes, eat a delicious vegan meal, indulge with some mind-blowing vegan desserts, and raise money for Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary? You can do all of that–and hang out with me–by attending Woodstock FAS’s annual Comedy for Karma benefit at Gotham Comedy Club. Tickets are 50$, but for a terrific meal and a donation to a great cause, I happen to think that’s a steal.

If you decide to attend, let me know! I’ll be there with my camera, and I’ll be excited to meet you. Details here.

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Categories: Breakfast
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free

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  1. I LOVE putting dates on things! I really didn’t discover how amazing they are, and are for you, until recently. I have been in the dark! This porridge recipe looks like just what I need to have tomorrow morning. 🙂

  2. Pumpkin Porridge, I would never have thought to put pumpkin in porridge! Pumpkin is strictly savoury in Australia, I’ve never eaten (or seen) pumpkin “pie”. I have porridge most mornings, even through the heat of summer I kept it up (yay me). Now that the mornings are cooling down I may have to try this recipe. Now to try and find canned pumpkin…don’t think that we have that, I’ll have to do a vegie roast and keep some for leftovers! LOVE your blog!

  3. Have a big climb planned for my b-day today, and needed something more than my usual smoothie. Just downed a bowl of this oatmeal and I’m ready to go! This is delicious, and would have never thought about adding pumpkin to breakfast. Thanks for a great start to the day!

  4. I’ve seen so many blog posts about pumpkin oats, but I’ve never tried them before. Maybe it’s time to jump on this bandwagon! I’m loving your green recovery series.

  5. Great reminder about the comparison trap. Being true to myself when writing my blog is something I consistently strive for. Truth be told, I still struggle a bit with “finding my voice” when I write. I know the things that I’m not, and what I don’t want my blog to be – but sometimes it’s challenging to pinpoint what I *do* want my blog to be. With so many amazing blogs out there, it can feel a bit daunting to try to put something unique out there – but that’s not a bad “problem” to have, is it? 😉

    And that porridge looks gooooood!

  6. I strike a balance. I do eat my share of pre-packaged raw snacks, but they aren’t staples of my diet by any means. My favorite snack is apple slices with raw almond butter. I adore fresh, raw food, and I don’t mind rinsing and chopping veggies; making my own soups, dips, and dressings on a daily basis; etc. I keep things even simpler than you do – it’s really rare for me to make a recipe with more than four or five ingredients – but then I’m not writing a food blog. I’m not keen on juicer clean up, so regretfully, I haven’t made juicing a daily habit. (It’s a good thing I’m starting to like green smoothies.) While I mostly avoid canned foods, I agree absolutely they have a place in the life of the healthy and busy – I don’t know where I’d be without canned chickpeas and canned coconut milk. I still don’t own a dehydrator and it’s no where near the top of my wish list.

  7. Gena,

    I think developing a “food style”, whether you blog about your noshings on the regular or not, is actually really important.
    I remember living in China for a tidge and hearing locals (in the south) describe themselves as “rice eaters”. The average Chinese person eats over 200 lbs of rice per year (to American’s 20)! (Gosh, they better not GMO that shiz!)

    Americans would think eating rice day in and day out is “boring” but it’s the VARIATION on the staple that’s the fun part. I’ve come to embrace the idea of tweaking the staples. Staples de-stress our food preparation. They come to define us as eaters. And they’re also likely to be the recipes/rituals we pass down to others because we perfect them through repetition.

    If your base is always salad or smoothies or soups or whatever depending on the meal, then the possibilities for tweaking the base depending on the season or appetite are endless and exciting. Your pumpkin porridge totally represents this variation-on-the-staple concept.

    No blog-reader who understands this way of cooking/uncooking is going to sigh or eye-roll at another salad, soup or pate recipe because we know it’s a variation worthy of sharing.

    I remember through college (literally three and a half year) I pretty much ate oatmeal every single day for breakfast. It just worked for me. Looking back the variation on the base was pretty diverse: sometimes it was topped with raisins, other times dried cherries, sometimes molasses and cinnamon, soy milk, figs, fresh fruit, nut butters, protein powpow- you see what I’m getting at!

    Thanks for the perspecteeevo!

  8. You forgot to mention that your food is always delicious!

    By the way, my heart almost stopped when I saw pumpkin and chia in the same beautiful recipe name. The pumpkin chia pudding is one of my favorites.

  9. Thanks for the great advice-it is far too easy to compare “perfect” blog meals to everyday life. My blog is not as food centered, but as a passionate food blog reader, I sometimes forget behind all the delicious pictures is just a real person. You always do a wonderful job of delighting us with beautiful, easy, health recipes while let us know you are a REAL person who might have a bad day or go through a break up or be in love or studying for a crazy calc exam. It’s so refreshing. I think I’ll turn this pumpkin porriage into my dinner tonight 🙂

  10. In response to the last bit of this post, one reason I continue to read CR is because you are so clearly true to yourself. I appreciate that you show us what you like to eat, and don’t just adjust everything to please people. That takes some courage and trust, so I give major props to you for keepin’ it real. 😉

  11. I just love pumpkin and hot cereal together.. Lately, I’ve been grinding millet and making a quick cream of millet porridge out of it. I even just love the sounds of porridge.. it reminds me of being a little girl and reading books.. haha

  12. mmm this sounds soooo delicious. I have a question about chia seeds. I was at the health food store the other day and wanted to get some but realized that there are two different types, white and black. What is the difference? Anyway, I also wanted to say I really appreciate your new series on EDs. Thanks for the constant inspiration!

  13. thanks for the advice as a new food blogger! I am trying not to compare. In fact, today I will not post ANY of my meals (shocker!) because I didn’t feel like they will add anything to my blog recap of my day at student teaching. My blog is all about me, which is a bit self-centered at times, but all in all, I’m writing it for me, not to attract readers, so it will be completely honest!

  14. I love pumpkin porridge! So fun you used steel cut oats. I really need to start cooking steel- cut more; I guess the impatient person in me is the reason why 🙂

    So true- everything you noted on!

  15. Great post!! I feel the same way about the food I post, ok that Lori and I post. Our meals are not gourmet like I learned at 105. I just do not have the time to cut things pretty and make them always look beautiful on a plate. Most of the time it is stir this together, toss and enjoy, haha I try not to focus on the big picture, just enjoy the food in front me and now it is nourishing me. I do not eat 100% clean diet, if people only saw everything I eat, haha I do eat things out of cans and boxes, but all in balance! and love my coffee, cannot give that up yet

  16. Thanks for this great blogging advice and insight. I definitely do feel a little pressure to make something not only good for me and my husband but that would be good “for the blog” I find that things come out better when I do it for myself, and have the blog as an after-thought.

    Pumpkin makes anything extra delicious — your porridge looks so nourishing for an AM meal, or even a dessert after dinner.

  17. Oh, I know you talked about the roasting pumpkin, scooping it out, etc as something rather high-falutin’, but for those of us in countries where canned pumpking doesn’t exist (I think that’s pretty much everywhere that isn’t America 😛 ) that’s our only option! I get so envious when the pumpkin craze hits America every fall, because it’s so much trickier for me to make pumpkin treats… and what you all eat looks so, so good! Envy attack 😛

  18. Really great post Gina! First of all, thank you for the awesome step-by-step of your “Pumpkin Chia Porridge.” I’ve only played with rolled oats before, but I really need to try steal cut.

    I definitely feel that a blog should be true to the blogger, no matter what that might be. However, I’ve found that I get a lot of inspiration from other bloggers to try new foods and recipes, which is part of the fun of blogging! So I think it’s a balance for every blogger to find.

  19. I think that documenting daily meals can be good and bad, depending on the person – I find it super useful, cos knowing that people will be seeing what I’m eating makes me want to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. It gets me out of food-ruts, and most of the time, I discover new recipes that way!

    I can see how people might become obsessive too, or compare negatively, but so far I’ve just seen the positive.

  20. “I can’t make a perfect chiffonade”. I don’t even know what a chiffonade is! This is my kind of food. Gooey thick goodness in a bowl. And, since I live in Canada, your timing is still perfect. I’ll be eating porridge for a month or two yet. Off to get some pumpkin!

    • I was just thinking I can’t wait for spring but this might be reason enough to wish for a few more cold, wet, snowy (like I woke up to this morning) days.

      By the way Gena, the food on your blog is so accessible that it inspired me to transition to veganism last fall.

  21. I really love this post. I’m definitely going to try this recipe. I also want to say that you are such an excellent writer and I’m so impressed by your revelations about knowing yourself! I really relate to the parts about what you are and what you aren’t. Thanks!

  22. yum ! this bowl looks so scrumptious! and I love that you made it in your food style. If I have the forethought or the time to soak beans and/or roast pumpkin, great. If I don’t, canned food saves the day.

    I am seriously considering this fundraiser! What a great cause! I will let you know if I’m able to swing it…

  23. I definitely fell into the trap of trying to write about the food that I was reading about and what I thought other people wanted to hear about. I realize now that I have a unique niche, not everyone is gonna like it but the ones that do hope I don’t change.

    Somehow, I have already forgotten about pumpkin! Your recipe looks great. Who says pumpkin is only for fall?

  24. Gena, thanks for being honest and real. We are all human after all! Your food lifestyle is so realistic and approachable, I love it.

    And I think it’s time for me to stock back up on pumpkin!

  25. I try not to compare myself to others, but rather be influenced by them. Nobody should feel the need to adapt to another blogger’s eating habits just because they seem to be healthier. We should instead use each other as reliable sources for ideas, tips, and entertainment.

    I love how you’re so open to everybody, Gena. It’s great to look at a vegan blog as a non-vegan, and still enjoy everything I read.

    Albeit having nothing to do with your pumpkin porridge recipe, I have a general inquiry about chia seeds. Is it necessary to use nondairy milk when trying to make a pudding with them? I set out to make chia pudding this morning using regular nonfat milk, and it failed to gel. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time to sit, but the recipe said 15 minutes in the fridge. Even after waiting longer than that…still no gel. I remember successfully making chia pudding when I was vegan, so I’m wondering if dairy is the culprit. Would there be any other reason for my pudding refusing to change consistency? (Defective seeds?!)

  26. Great recipe, Gena. Looks easy, delish, hearty, satisfying, and yummy. Especially when it’s cold. It happens to be 83F and sunny and I am almost going to turn on my A/C here in San Diego. But I wont rub it in 🙂

    I love your closing points…not comparing!! THANK YOU! I am moving away from raw vegan food and posting more food that I happen to like. It’s not all vegan, it’s not raw, it uses “crappy ingredients” by some people’s standards, and that’s fine for them, but it’s my blog and I happen to want to post about it. For two years I held back in posting certain recipes b/c I feared some people would not like them but you know what, my blog is growing faster now than ever, I am happier than ever, and I love posting recipes that may not be perfect for others, but that I happen to like.

    Thank you for your last lines and encouraging everyone to do what fits for them…and quit comparing!

  27. I make a similar pumpkin porridge – so comforting – and your pumpkin chia pudding is a perennial favorite of mine too. I tend to make a big batch at once with a can of pumpkin and a heaping 1/2 cup and then some of chia seeds.

    I also wanted to mention – I made your Vegan Walnut Cheddar in the Vita last night since I had already used it to make coating for kale chips and liked b eing able to just rinse the Vita rather than have to use and dirty the food processor. The Vegan Walnut Cheddar was just as delicious made in the Vita – though less cheddar-like pate and more cheddar-like cream cheese – think cream cheese meets piquant cheddar. It was a lovely discovery 🙂

  28. Great reminder to not fall into the comparing trap. All bodies (and tastes) are different and beautiful in their own ways. Something that works for one person may not for another. It’s great to be inspired by other bloggers, but in the end, adapting things to meet your own needs works best. That said, I’m always inspired by your blog posts. I’m glad to find someone who loves veggies just like me!

    Have a lovely day!

  29. I recently bought a domain for a blog that I want to start and this is great advice. It’s so daunting starting a new blog when there are already so many amazing ones out there, but your advice makes it a little less scary taking the plunge!
    p.s. That pumpkin porridge looks delicious!