Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Bars

'Tis the season for all-things pumpkin. And while I feel like a walking cliche come September, taste buds don't lie. Our bodies are smart. They are designed to crave certain foods. It's their way of speaking to us. Therefore, as the seasons change, typically our eats do as well. For example, while a hearty smoothie might be your go-to breakfast in the summer, you probably find yourself reaching for a warm bowl of oats in the fall (especially if you live in a dynamic climate). 

At any rate, I advocate eating seasonally. It gives your body a chance to adapt to new foods. After months of juicy strawberries and sweet nectarines in your grocery cart, grab some pears and persimmons. Remember, variety is the spice of life. The greater the expanse of nutrients and minerals you're consuming, the more well-rounded and robust your diet. Makes sense, though, right? Eating seasonal ingredients is an easy way to branch out of your comfort zone, too. Especially in the kitchen. So, while I might not typically grab a pint of figs at the grocery store, I'm all about trying new things. Plus, buying what's in season usually means cheaper, higher-quality produce.

If you're on a budget—as many of us are—buying organic isn't always top-of-mind. However, you'll likely find that seasonal fruits and veggies not only taste better, but that the organic variety is very cost-effective. When you buy what's in season, you buy food at the peak of its supply. Meaning, it costs less for farmers and distribution companies to harvest and get the food to your grocery store. So, even organic farmers can keep the cost of their seasonal produce down. Inversely, buying organic strawberries in the middle of January (in Colorado) is going to cost you an arm and a leg. Reason being, they have to be shipped from somewhere else in the world.

Anyway, as soon as September rolls around, I'm ready to say sayonara to summer produce and hello to fall-esque fare. Apples, figs, cranberries, beetroot, sweet potatoes, and of course, pumpkin are all on that list. So, to welcome the imminent fall foliage here in Colorado, I baked pumpkin pie oatmeal bars.

They're dense, perfectly sweet, and have an underlying tone of pumpkin spice. They're naturally vegan, and you can make them gluten-free by using gluten-free oats. I topped the batter with slivered almonds, but you can swap those for shredded coconut, walnuts, chocolate chips, etc. They made for a delicious snack on Sunday afternoon. The past two nights, I've had the bars with coconut ice cream (pumpkin pie a la mode, anyone?). You can totally eat them for breakfast, too. Just keep them in the fridge, covered, and they'll last for up to one week. Happy baking :)

Ingredients:

- 1 cup of oats (either old-fashioned or quick-cooking)

- 1 cup of garbanzo bean flour *If you don't have this, you can sub for another cup of oats, spelt flour, or whole wheat flour. I haven't tested swapping this for coconut or almond flour, though!

- 1 1/3 cup pumpkin puree 

- 1/3 cup maple syrup

- 1/3 cup lite coconut milk (or nut milk of choice)

- 2 tbsp coconut oil (or drippy nut butter of choice)

- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

- 1/2 tsp EACH: pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and sea salt

- slivered almonds (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8x8 baking pan with coconut oil (or lay down a piece of parchment paper).

2. Mix together all dry ingredients. Then, add all wet ingredients to your bowl. No need to dirty up two bowls!

3. Pour the batter into your baking pan and top with slivered almonds, coconut shreds, etc.

4. Bake for 30-35 minutes. It won't rise much, but stick a toothpick or fork into the pan after 30 minutes. If the batter doesn't stick to the toothpick, it's done.

5. Let it cool, slice, and devour. I also added drippy almond butter before taking these photos.

If you make any of my recipes, please tag me (@wellnesswithedie) or use #wellnesswithedie on Instagram! That way, I can easily see your creations :)