Sunday, December 30, 2012

An Unconventional Way to Serve Morning Oatmeal

I like my morning bowl of oatmeal on cold winter mornings. It warms my soul, fills my belly and is a healthier alternative to most breakfast foods. I can also doctor it in a myriad of ways: fresh fruit, dried fruit, crystallized ginger, chocolate chips, brown sugar, chai spices….the list could go on forever. So I was pleasantly surprised to happen upon a recipe on Pinterest—a hazardous time suck—for baked oatmeal. Even better, it is baked in muffin tins so it is portable and reheatable. It's one of those recipes you could make on Sunday morning for the family and then have leftovers for the week to come. Bonus time saver and you can feel good about feeding these to the family (and yourself).

One unusual but important ingredient is the vanilla almond milk. The sweetness of this product is key to the flavor of the oatmeal. Almond milk has 50% more calcium than dairy milk with roughly the same calorie count as skim milk. It contains no saturated fat, cholesterol, dairy or lactose ingredients and it is a healthy alternative for everyone, save those with nut allergies. And for those who do not use it on a regular basis, you can purchase 8 ounce (1 cup) individual tetra paks, which is the perfect amount for this recipe.

I tried this recipe with both dried wild blueberries (a Trader Joe’s must-have with their intense blueberry flavor) and mini chocolate chips. I think it would also work well with The Ginger People’s Bakers Cut Crystallized Ginger Chips, although younger palates may not appreciate the substitution. I loved both, as did Mr. B. I am waiting for the rest of the family to weigh in.
hot and steaming right out of the oven

So, think about simplifying life a bit, and whipping up a batch of these over the weekend once or twice a month and providing a healthy alternative to a bowl of cereal or morning toast. Your taste buds and waistline will be happier for it.

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup vanilla almond milk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups old fashioned or rolled oats
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup dried wild blueberries or mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips together, and allow to site for a few minutes.

Prepare 16 muffin cups with paper liners or non-stick spray.

Stir the blueberries or chocolate chips into the oatmeal batter, incorporating well. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups. (I found that a large ice cream scoop uses the perfect amount of batter).

Bake 20-25 minutes. The edges should just be starting the brown and the muffins will be firm to the touch.

Remove from pan. If using paper liners, let the muffins cool for several minutes so they do not stick to the liner.

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