Look! Up on the counter! Is it cereal? Is it a casserole? No, it’s Berry Banana Baked Oatmeal ! This nutritious, cozy breakfast is healthy, vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, and mostly sweetened with fruit.
If you’ve ever thought it would be great to have the crispy golden edges of an oatmeal cookie in your morning bowl of oatmeal, I have the solution: baked oatmeal. It’s exactly that, a quick and easy combination of oats, fruits, a bit of sweetener, milk, and any other flavor enhancers that make your mornings brighter (umm, vanilla and cardamom please…).
Bake it. Eat it. Love it.
You can play around with a wide variety of fruits, fresh, frozen, dried, or a combination. As we stretch into fall, consider chopped apples and pears, or perhaps stir in some pumpkin puree and dried cranberries. But since we are getting the last push of summer berries at the grocery store, it was easy to settle on my berry-banana combination for this introductory venture.
You may have seen baked oatmeal recipes with eggs, but you’ll be happy to now that you don’t need them. Egg replacers are not necessary either. It only takes one time making (or cleaning up) a batch of oatmeal that oats have built-in binding power.
To speed along the baking process (because I am impatient, especially in the morning, even more so in the morning before coffee has taken its full effect), I begin by mixing the oats with boiling water and letting them stand for 10 minutes to soften. In addition to overall acceleration, this also leads to creamier baked oatmeal: after standing, the oats are given a stir, which helps them to break down and become creamy.
Crisp golden edges + a creamy center = morning comfort & joy.
Bananas add even more creaminess (apparently I have a thing for creamy oats!), breaing down and blendeing with the oats as they bake. They also add natural sweetness. I found I only needed about 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, but you can adjust according to taste and preference.
Oats are a perfect food for the beginning of the day for reasons beyond delicious comfort and all-morning-long satisfaction. They are also high in protein, contain essential fats and are rich in minerals, including zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron. If you started the morning with a long run or other workout, the potassium from the bananas are exactly what you need, especially if you are a sweatmonster like me (apologies if I just killed your appetite with that visual!).
Last, the berries are more than gorgeous, juicy accessories: they are high in vitamin C, which assists in the absorption of iron (in the oats). The vitamin C will help keep your skin glowing, too. Pretty impressive for a humble bowl of oatmeal.
Happy eating, everyone!