Friday, November 30, 2012

Berry Baked Oatmeal

I was struck with the Pinterest bug again....this time a beautiful picture of oatmeal (!) worked its magic on me. Now, I've always been an oatmeal fan, but beautiful oatmeal? Seriously? Yes--when it's mixed up with  fruit and nuts and baked to perfection. This is my new favorite thing, and the kicker? It's healthy!

Toasted walnuts give this dish great flavor and texture.

Before I get to the recipe that I eventually used, let's give a little shout out to the blog that started this new obsession of mine. Thanks go to So, How's It Taste? for the gorgeous picture that turned me on to this idea that apparently started with the Amish (they know how to cook!). I looked around, of course, and found similar baked oatmeal recipes all over the blog-o-sphere, some healthy and some bordering on dessert. I actually tried different versions and found that all of them turned out to be tasty...this is definitely something that can be adapted to your own taste. In the end, I chose the healthier route, in part because a recent visit to my doctor revealed some icky cholesterol levels, but mainly because the taste is in no way compromised by using a healthier version.

Berry Baked Oatmeal

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of salt
2 cups skim milk
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, sliced
1 1/2 cups raspberries or blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.; spray a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, 1/4 cup of the walnuts, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
In another bowl, or in a large measuring cup, mix together the milk, egg, coconut oil, and vanilla.

Distribute the sliced bananas evenly on the bottom of the casserole dish.

Sprinkle two-thirds of the berries over the top of the bananas. Cover the fruit with the oatmeal mixture. Evenly pour the milk mixture over the oats, then tap the dish gently on the counter to distribute the liquid.

Sprinkle the remaining walnuts and berries over the top of the oatmeal. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the mixture is set. Serve warm with a splash of milk, if desired.

As I mentioned, one of the great things about this recipe is how easily adaptable it is. If you want to cut out the sugar, but like the sweetness, simply substitute 1/3 cup sugar-free maple syrup for the brown sugar (add it to the liquid mixture instead of to the oats). I've also subbed steel cut oats for the rolled oats--it was fine, but the texture was definitely more chewy. Don't have coconut oil? Use butter or just cut it out completely. I've done both and it's all good.

So, there you have it....baked oatmeal. Fancy enough to serve to your guests, but easy and versatile enough to bake ahead and portion out for your own breakfast during the week. I highly recommend it.

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