It's no new revelation that breakfast is an essential meal. "Back in the day" I used to be a breakfast skipper, and in those "dark days," it would not be uncommon for me to reach for an undesirable mid-morning snack, traditionally in bar form, or overdo it at lunch and then feel weighted down and lethargic. Sound familiar breakfast skippers? Breakfast is the meal that breaks your overnight fast. For skippers who are also getting the ideal hours of sleep, you could be going around ten hours without adding any fuel to your body. Imagine then, if you wait until lunch, you could possibly be fasting for 16 hours. That's long enough to put your body into starvation mode and slow your metabolism down.
I spend a majority of my breakfasts holed up in my office with a Siggi's, fruit, and some yogurt topper in the form of a complex carb, but lately I've started creating an oatmeal bake. I'd heard about this mythical bake before. However, it wasn't until a friend of mine with a plethora of dietary restrictions (gluten-free and dairy-free) recommended that I give it a try.
I love dishes that allow for a myriad of interpretations and allow you on whim, to integrate what you have on hand. I've made versions of the bake with fresh and frozen berries depending on seasonality, have added bananas, various types of nuts and typically, I like to top it with raw unsweetened coconut flakes.
The oatmeal bake is also great for those individuals on the run who don't have time in the morning to sit down and enjoy breakfast in the comfort of home. Once cooked and cooled, I like to portion the bake out into individual serving-sized containers that I can just grab and go and later enjoy by the fluorescent glow of my computer screen.
The ideal breakfast should be balanced with protein and complex carbohydrates (whole grains) in order to sustain you until lunch and give you the energy that you need to plow through your a.m. work load. Starting the day with a nutrient dense meal is linked to weight control and performance improvement and motivates you to continue making healthful choices throughout the day. So, for all you breakfast skippers out there, this one is for you.
The Oatmeal Bake
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
- 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 2 cups almond, hemp or skim milk
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil, Butter, or Ghee melted and cooled slightly
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries or strawberries or mixed berries
- ¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375°F
Generously butter the inside of an 8-inch square baking dish with coconut oil or butter.
In a bowl, mix together the oats, half the walnuts, the baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, the milk, egg, half of the butter or coconut oil, and the vanilla.
Arrange the bananas in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle two-thirds of the berries over the top. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Gently give the baking dish a couple thwacks on the countertop to make sure that the milk moves through the oats. Scatter the remaining berries and remaining walnuts across the top and sprinkle with the coconut flakes.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Drizzle the remaining melted butter or coconut oil on the top and serve.
This dish is dairy and gluten-free (if using gluten-free oats and coconut oil). It has complex carbohydrates, soluble and insoluble fiber, protein, and omega 3s depending on your nut and milk selection.