Do you usually have breakfast from a drive-thru or instant oats in single serve packages? These on-the-go foods are total diet killers—empty calories lacking in nutrition that will leave you hungry just an hour later. Start breakfast at home or even the night before to avoid any health blunders. Slow-cooked oats, such as steel-cut or gluten-free oats, are delicious, nutritious, and an easy way to fit a healthy breakfast into your day.
SELF-SERVE VERSUS SELF-MADE
We all hear that a diet rich in whole grains, like oats, has the power to reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. So it’s obvious that we should be eating more of them, right? Not so fast! Many flavored instant single serve oatmeal packets are full of added sugars, thickeners, artificial food colorings and partially hydrogenated oils—the bad kind. A lot also contain milk, wheat and soy, making eating safely difficult for those with food allergies.
A better bet? Making your own oatmeal at home. My fiber-filled oatmeal combines fruits and nuts for a satisfying breakfast. Almonds provide a source of protein, while mangos are brimming with vitamin C, A, and B6, not to mention dietary fiber (to pick the perfect mango, smell it; it should be fragrant and give slightly when pressed with your finger). A dash of cinnamon adds a spicy sweet flavor, and is also known to lower blood sugar. Almond milk replaces dairy and makes this oatmeal slightly creamy while coconut flakes add a finishing touch, making this a tropical start to your day.
OUT OF THE BOWL…INTO THE LUNCH BAG
Kids are going to love this new approach to oatmeal—it is baked, not heated on the stovetop. They can even help prepare it with you in the kitchen! This baked oatmeal is best served warm right out of the oven. Simply slice squares of oatmeal and serve before you head out the door. Or, bake this the night before and seal in plastic baggies for an on-the-go breakfast or yummy snack later on. Eggs and baking soda are what give lift and structure to this morning treat. For a vegan version, sub chia seeds mixed with water or an egg-free powder replacement for the eggs. Anyone with a nut allergy? Simply swap almonds and almond milk for So Delicious coconut milk and some gluten-free granola such as KIND Snacks Clusters for the added crunch.
Read Related: Back-to-School: Lunch Inside the Box!
The best thing about making your own oatmeal? You can customize it any way you want. Swap the almonds for pecans; the mangos for dried cranberries and coconut flakes for ground flax seed and you’ve got an autumn themed breakfast! Stone fruits are also perfect—try sautéing thinly sliced plums, peaches or apricots in extra virgin coconut oil and arrange atop oatmeal. Use light, dark or maple flavored agave syrup instead of honey for a vegan swirl. To make these oats dairy-free, use vegan butter or margarine.
No more excuses for processed pastries and packaged oats in the morning with this easy to make and bake Rise n’ Shine Oatmeal. Since many ingredients are pantry staples, this baked oatmeal will quickly become a breakfast favorite for both the adults and kids in your family!
RISE ‘N’ SHINE OATMEAL
2 cups uncooked gluten-free oats such as Bob’s Red Mill
1 TBSP sugar
1 TSP baking powder
2 TSP cinnamon
½ TSP sea salt
1¾ cups almond milk
1 large egg
3 TBSP butter, melted
1 TSP almond extract
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced into
½ inch cubes
1 TBSP coconut flakes Honey, for serving
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Prepare an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick baking spray.
- Combine oats, almonds, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and sea salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk almond milk, egg, butter, and almond extract.
- Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking dish; layer the almond milk mixture on top of oats. Scatter mango and coconut on top.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and the oat mixture has set. Remove from oven; set aside to cool for 5 minutes before serving with a drizzle of honey.