Banana-Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

S and I share many traits. We both prefer staying in to going out and partying. We have ambitious Goodreads goals. We appreciate a solid pun. But one point of difference is our tolerance for meal repetition. Although I have no problem with leftovers in general, I need diversity in my meals. Eating the same thing for lunch or dinner every day bores me. S, on the other hand, has been known to make a giant pot of his favorite cold noodle dish on a Sunday and eat it every. single. day. for lunch throughout the week. Me? I’m bored by Tuesday. When a series of events led to him having Chipotle for lunch three days in a row a few months ago, he could’ve kept going for the next week. Me? I’m good with a monthly Chipotle fix.

When it comes to breakfasts, I have marginally more tolerance for repetition. But lately I’ve become bored with overnight oats, my typical summer staple. Well… “bored” is too weak a word for my feelings. “Repulsed by” is too strong, but it’s somewhere between the two poles. The finer distinctions of my current dislike aside, I wanted to make myself a substantial breakfast that would fill me up like oats do but would not require me to eat from a jar. (I’m so over that for now.) Determined to use the quickly browning bananas on my kitchen island, I gathered inspiration from my Blueberry-Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies and my Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal.

Banana-Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

The result? Banana-Oatmeal Breakfast Bars, a satisfying breakfast you can eat with your hands—no jar required! My poor reviled oats take on new life in a dense, satisfying square sweetened ever so lightly with brown rice syrup. A few tablespoons of almond butter add filling protein and fat, but the nut-free among you could switch to soy butter with no major flavor changes. I left mine bare, but you could dress up your bars with chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or dried fruit. (And if you have a sweet tooth, consider adding a tablespoon or two of dark brown sugar to the wet ingredients—I prefer less-sweet breakfasts, but I know not everyone does!)

Banana-Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Makes 9 servings

  • 1 C whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 C old-fashioned rolled oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats)
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 2 medium-large very ripe bananas
  • 1 C unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used almond)
  • 1/4 C brown rice syrup
  • 2 T almond butter
  • 2 T ground flax
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • Optional add-ins: chocolate chips, chopped nuts, dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 375˚ and prepare an 8″ x 8″ baking pan. I typically use coconut oil, but any oil or spray will do.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mash the bananas very thoroughly—they should be very liquid-y. Add the almond milk, brown rice syrup, almond butter, and vanilla extract and whisk to incorporate fully. Add the ground flax and give the liquid mixture a last stir.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine using a wooden spoon or plastic spatula. Pour into the prepared pan and place in the oven. Bake for 20-25  minutes, or until a toothpick or metal testing tool comes out clean. Cool for at least 10 minutes and then cut into squares… and enjoy your jar-less breakfast.

Banana-Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

P.S. Ya dig that cute fabric napkin? There’s a set of six for sale in my Etsy shop!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies to help cover hosting costs.

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

This admission may be blasphemous in most vegan and/or healthy-eating circles, but here it is: I don’t really like bananas. I’ve mentioned it before, but it remains true. We just don’t get along.

Straight-up bananas are what really give me grief. Every so often I think my tastes and texture preferences might’ve changed, and I gamely set forth in a brave quest to conquer a single banana. (Of course, it has to be on the overripe end of the spectrum; any hint of green and the accompanying less-than-ripe smell and I’m gagging before I begin.) I peel it. I take a bite and quickly chew and swallow. This isn’t so bad, I think. I can do this. Then I’m two bites in and I’m remembering why I don’t do this. There’s a slimy mass on the back of my throat and an unpleasant smell in my nose. I force myself to swallow. I gag. I hand the banana off to S, who wonders aloud why on earth I keep doing this to myself.

Why, indeed. Bananas are a perfect on-the-go snack; they come with their own protective suit that keeps them safe in your purse or backpack. I want to be able to eat an entire banana while waiting for a flight without worrying about gagging aloud or having to furtively find a trashcan to dispose of the half-eaten fruit.

But alas, straight-up banana-lovin’ doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me.

I do, however, like bananas in other foods. Muffins. Softserve. And of course, banana bread. I love banana bread.

The thing about banana bread, though, is that I don’t consider it an appropriate breakfast food. Which is not to say that I’ve never indulged in a slice for breakfast, but it never fills me up. Banana bread—and most quick breads—are typically loaded with white flour, oil, and sugar. Not exactly the nutrients needed to get you off to a rip-roarin’ start.

This breakfast, however, combines all the flavors of banana bread in a wholesome, protein-packed baked oatmeal. It appeases both your love (or lukewarm like) of bananas and your need for a filling, nutritious breakfast. And it’s dead easy; everything comes together effortlessly in a blender. Now that’s a banana recipe I can get behind—no gagging involved.

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Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

Serves four

  • Coconut oil, oil spray, or Earth Balance for buttering the pan
  • 3 very ripe medium-sized bananas
  • 1 cup nondairy milk of choice
  • 2 T ground flax
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 T blackstrap molasses
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 C rolled oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats)
  • 1/4 C add-in of choice (chopped walnuts, chopped dates, chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 375˚. Spread the oil or Earth Balance around the inside of an 8”x8” square baking dish, making sure to cover all sides.

Add the bananas and milk to a blender and blend until fully smooth. Add all other ingredients except the oats and add-ins and blend again to incorporate all ingredients. Add the oats and blend for 30 seconds or so until the oats are partially broken into small pieces but aren’t fully blended.

Pour the mix into your prepared pan and drop any add-ins on top. Using a large spoon, gently fold in the add-ins. For an extra treat, sprinkle the top with a teaspoon or two of brown sugar.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the top is golden and the milk doesn’t look liquid-y on top of the oats. Remove from oven and let cool for 3-5 minutes to let set, then serve and enjoy!

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies to help cover hosting costs.

Apple Pie Overnight Oats

By the time this post goes live (thanks, pre-scheduling!), I will be in good ol’ Rhode Island! I found cheap plane tickets (thanks, Southwest!), and since this happens to be my dad’s birthday (thanks… grandparents?), I snatched them right up. I didn’t tell my dad I was coming, though, because who doesn’t love a birthday surprise?! (Me, that’s who. I don’t like surprises.)

Anyway, I’m excited to spend time with my family—even my brother is flying in from Seattle; by coincidence, he has a wedding to attend this weekend in RI. And I’ll get to see most of closest home-friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in ages. Basically, it’s going to be a wonderful long weekend.

But enough about me and my travel plans! Instead, let’s talk about me and my food. :P

Today I have yet another vegan overnight oats recipe to share with you, making this the third time I’ve blogged about something oatmeal-related this month. I hope you’re not tired of it yet! I make no promises that a fourth post won’t show up at some point. ;) For now, though, check out this yummy breakfast I devoured on Friday morning:

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A big ol’ jar of vegan Apple Pie Overnight Oats! I chopped up half an apple and put it right in the oatmeal, and it really made this one special. It even *smelled* like an apple pie, redolent of cinnamon and deep brown sugar. Mmm. These oats sit a little lighter in your tummy than my pumpkin oats, but they’re no less satisfying.

Apple Pie Overnight Oats
Serves one

1/2 small apple, diced small
1/4 C unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c non-dairy milk
1 T brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
Dash salt
1/2 C rolled oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats)

In a mason jar or other container with a tight lid, combine all ingredients except the oats. Shake vigorously until well-combined. Add the oats and shake again. Place in fridge and chill overnight.

Do you have any travel plans in the near future? How do you feel about surprises?

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

MORE OVERNIGHT OAT RECIPES:

Pumpkin Overnight Oats

When I wake up in the morning, my list of immediate tasks to complete is short: Use the potty, shower, feed and walk Moria. Notably absent from that list? Eating breakfast. I just can’t eat first thing in the morning; I need at least an hour for my stomach to settle. I’ve always been this way, meaning that my “breakfast” during high school was usually a bagel or something I could wolf down during homeroom, since I sure as hell wasn’t going to get up early enough to eat at home. Sometimes I didn’t eat breakfast at all.

These days, I never miss breakfast. I usually eat during my first hour or so at work. I like to keep cereal at my desk and almond milk in the fridge, but I often bring something else—muffins, fruit, whatever’s lying around. I’m also a big fan of oatmeal, particularly overnight oats.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it’s beautifully simple. You soak rolled oats and your add-ins of choice in nondairy milk overnight, and they’re ready to eat the next morning. The taste and texture are notably different from cooked oatmeal;  overnight oats are less porridge-y because the oats retain their individual shape better. You also eat them cold. I was wary at first, but I adore them now.

For the past couple days, I’ve been loving this intensely flavorful, pumpkin-based oat concoction. A heaping spoonful of blackstrap molasses adds iron and calcium (not to mention a rich, deep sweetness), while pumpkin gives you Vitamin A galore. Add a big shake of cinnamon and you’re ready to start your day off right!

Vegan pumpkin overnight oats // govegga.com

Pumpkin Overnight Oats
Serves one

  • 1/2 C + 1 T nondairy milk
  • 1/3 C pumpkin puree
  • 1 T blackstrap molasses (you can add more if you’re a fan like I am)
  • 1 T pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I actually prefer closer to 1 tsp, but again, that’s just me!)
  • Dash nutmeg
  • 1/2 C rolled oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats)

In a mason jar or other container with a tight lid, combine all ingredients except the oats. Shake vigorously until well-combined. Add the oats and shake again. Place in fridge and cool overnight.

What’s your favorite make-ahead breakfast? What kind of overnight oats do you enjoy?

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies to help cover hosting costs.

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

Live from Maryland, it’s Saturday morning!

There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of waking up, making something for breakfast, and crossing your fingers and toes that it turns out well because you still need something to blog about that very day. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. Ahem.

Happily, this particular breakfast is well-worth a post. I’ve always thought baked oatmeal was, quite literally, oatmeal you make on the stove and then pop in the oven for… some unknown reason. To firm up? To enhance the oat-y flavor? I had no idea. Turns out, you do the actual oatmeal-cooking right in the oven! And it makes a dish more akin to a casserole than a traditional oatmeal! Amazing. Who knew?!

My baked oatmeal is based on this one from Epicurious and this one from the fabulous Ricki Heller. I love Ricki’s idea of whizzing up the ingredients to make a baked oatmeal “pudding,” and I’ll definitely try that method next time. Meanwhile, though, I’ll be enjoying this blueberry-laden breakfast—and I hope you do, too.

 

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Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

Serves four

  • Coconut oil or Earth Balance for buttering the pan
  • 2 C rolled oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats)
  • ½ C chopped walnuts, divided into two ¼ C portions
  • Scant ⅓ C brown sugar
  • ¼ C dried wild blueberries (optional)
  • 1 ½ t cinnamon
  • 1 t baking powder
  • Very scant ½ t salt
  • Dash nutmeg
  • 2 C non-dairy milk
  • 2 T ground flax
  • ⅓ C unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 C fresh or frozen blueberries (use more if omitting wild blueberries)

Preheat the oven to 375˚. Spread the coconut oil or Earth Balance around the inside of an 8”x8” square baking dish, making sure to cover all sides.

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (rolled oats through nutmeg, including ¼ C of  the walnuts) and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, add the wet ingredients (not including the blueberries) and whisk to combine.

Add the oat mixture to the baking dish, then pour the milk mixture over the top. Use a flat spoon or spatula to push the milk down into the oats so that they’re covered. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts (¼ C) and blueberries (fresh or frozen) over the top, pushing down a little to gently fold them into the oats.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the milk doesn’t look liquid-y on top of the oats. If you’re feeling decadent, sprinkle additional brown sugar or drizzle additional maple syrup over the top before serving.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies to help cover hosting costs.

On Yoga and Oatmeal

I’m going to be straight with you (again), but this time about something a little more serious than food (I know; how dare I do that!).

The thing is, I haven’t felt like myself for the past month or so. I’ve been a big ball of anxiety and nerves and stress. I feel like I haven’t properly b r e a t h e d in weeks and weeks. I know I haven’t been eating as well as I should, and I also haven’t found – or made – time to exercise. So this stress has taken its toll physically as well as mentally – I’m getting sharp, piercing pains in one tiny spot of my back when I bend over; my neck crackles (crackles!!) when I move it, and I feel tired fairly often. It’s no good.

So this morning I got up and put a pot of oatmeal on the stove, mixed with a diced apple and lots of yummy spices. Then I transferred it to the oven to make my first-ever baked oatmeal. And while it was baking, filling my apartment with warm, homey smells, I dug out my yoga mat, the yoga mat I purchased with a CSN store gift certificate a few months back but have only used once since then.

I rolled out my mat on the floor in front of the sliding glass doors in my living room. And then I dug deep into the dusty corners of my overtaxed brainbox and tried to remember how my yoga teacher led us through our Ashtanga practice during spring term of my senior year at Carleton, when I met yoga and fell in love only to grow apart after graduating.

And so I stretched and I warrior posed and I tried my darndest to rid my mind of all the junk that’s been bummin’ me out lately. I dutifully breathed in and out, deeply, five times during every downward facing dog. With each breath, I tried to let go of something.

Breathe in – looming work deadlines! – breathe out – goodbye, looming work deadlines!

Breathe in – blog blog blog blog blog! – breathe out – goodbye, constant need to write blog posts in my head!

Breathe in – so many Christmas presents to knit, so little time! – breathe out – goodbye, knitting frenzy!

Breathe in – why is the “Maint Needed” light on in in my car?! – breathe out – goodbye, worry that could be alleviated if I’d just call the car shop!

Breathe in – crap, I really should start on all those foods I wanted to make for MoFo! – breathe out – goodbye, stupid desire to overachieve!

And I tried. I really tried. I held my poses and I tried to focus on my breathing, but I couldn’t let go; my mind kept working working working thinking thinking writing writing writing. At one point, I even yelled aloud: “Shut up, Kelly!” Good thing my roommate’s not here at the moment. But it wasn’t until I was in the middle of one of my favorite simple seated poses* that I gained a brief, blissful, fleeting moment of relief. For one moment, the thoughts in my head faded. I heard nothing but footsteps from the people upstairs and a car driving by outside. And it was wonderful.

All too quickly, though, my thoughts came flooding back, reminding me about all the crafts I want to do and the foods I want to make. But it’s okay. My downward-facing dog might’ve been more like a downward facing humpbacked whale, and my joints might’ve creaked as if I were a 95-year-old lady instead of a 23-year-old youngling, but it was wonderful. And it taught me a lesson I refuse to forget: I cannot ignore myself. No matter how stressful things get, I need to make time to b r e a t h e, to center myself and to let go of all the stress, even if only for a minute. Fifty years from now, will I care what I posted about during day 20 of Vegan MoFo? Probably not. But I will care about how I felt during that time in my life; if I was happy and relaxed or constantly anxious and worry-filled. So I resolve to incorporate more yoga into my life, to make time to work out, and to b r e a t h e.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got  to eat breakfast, because that baked oatmeal won’t eat itself. And then I’ve got to take a short trip into work, because those revisions won’t make themselves.

Up next on my to-do list...

However, I promise to take a few deep breaths in the middle of it all.

How do you calm yourself down when things get crazy?

* I can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s number 25 here.

Taste of the Tropics Breakfast Sundae

The Breakfast Sundae lovin’ continues! I made this baby a couple of weekends ago, and – dare I say it? – it might’ve been better than the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Breakfast Sundae I made for Katie‘s contest. Less flashy, perhaps, but wonderful in its own way. This sundae features mango, coconut, and a hint of nutmeg – a sweet, tropical blend that makes me want to take to the seas, find an island, and call it my own.

Unassuming, yet delicious.

Taste of the Tropics Oatmeal Sundae
Ingredients:
Breakfast grain of your choice (I used a mix of oatmeal and steel cut oats)
Liquid of your choice (I used almond milk + water)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch nutmeg
1 mango, diced
Coconut flakes to taste

Cook your grain of choice to your personal specifications, adding the vanilla and nutmeg as it cooks. After it’s cooked and cooled a bit, mix in half the mango and coconut flakes. If you have a Magic Bullet or the like, feel free to blend up your oatmeal with a little more liquid for maximum creaminess. Mix in the rest of the mango, top the whole mess with coconut, and prepare for your tastebuds to be taken to the tropics!

Sundae Oaty Sundae

(Better than a bloody Sunday, eh?)

In case you’ve been living under a blog-free rock for the past couple of weeks, you probably know that the Queen of All Things Oatmeal is hosting a Magic Bullet giveaway. Unlike many giveaways that simply require entrants to leave a comment for a chance to win, Katie’s weeding out the passive contest-enterers from those who are more committed to the cause of Winning Free Stuff – this time, hopeful participants need to make a Breakfast Sundae for a chance at winning. Having been a lucky winner of one of Katie’s past giveaways, maybe it’s a little selfish of me to enter this one, but hey – a Magic Bullet would make a fetching addition to my countertop.

So – in the spirit of all things oaty and delicious, I decided to make myself a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Breakfast Sundae this past, um, Sunday. I followed Katie’s basic recipe pretty much to a letter, including blending it up in a Magic Bullet. But wait! It’s not mine – it’s my roommate’s, and my experiences borrowing her Bullet have only increased my intense covetousness for one of my own. After all, sad as it is, she won’t be my roommate forever, and a girl’s gotta build up her own set of kitchen accoutrements, right? Anyway – the Bullet whipped my oatmeal to new heights of creamy deliciousness, and then I upped the ante by pouring some extra-liquidy chocolate butter over the top. Served up in a ceramic sundae bowl I painted recently, this treat certainly looked more like a dessert than a breakfast!

It seriously bothers me that the coffee cup isn't more to the left. :(

Chocolaty and decadent, this breakfast was almost *too* rich for me – in my dotage, I’ve become much more sensitive to super-sugary food. But as a one-in-a-while breakfast treat, I think I can handle it! And I bet this could be a real game-changer for anyone who’s traditionally ambivalent towards oatmeal.

And here’s one more picture for the road – check out the chocolate butter action!

Oh, my.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway, Katie!

Festive Holiday Oats

Confession time – I’ve been eating quick oats lately. The kind of oats that come in a cylinder and take all of two minutes to nuke in the microwave. They’re basically the weakling runts of the oat world, with steel-cut oats and oat groats being the powerhouses that pack a fantastic nutritional punch. And even though I do have a bag of steel-cut oats in my [mostly bare] cupboard, I’ve been grabbing the quick oats when I feel like being grainy for breakfast.

I think I have an excuse, though. My mom and I bought them a couple of weeks ago when she was here helping me move into my apartment; we were staying in an extended stay hotel with a kitchenette, and we thought it’d be prudent to invest in some breakfast foods. Quick oats were the perfect solution; we’d get up in the morning, make oatmeal, and then head out for a day of furniture-shopping and bed-putting-together. After she left, I still had 3/4 of a container of quick oats, so that’s been my fall-back option when I want a quick breakfast. Since I’m not really willing to expend 20 minutes making steel-cut oats in the morning before work, I appreciate the minimal time investment.

I still feel a little guilty, though.

But a few days ago, I discovered a way to dress up my oats for the holidays, and ever since, I’ve ben unabashedly unashamed of my breakfast. It’s so simple, too. I’ve always been a fan of making oats with soy or almond milk, since I think watery oats are pretty much the most disgusting thing ever. They taste thin and generally disgusting, in my opinion. But if you make oatmeal with milk, it instantly turns into a delicious, creamy breakfast, even if you don’t have an immersion blender for that added touch of creaminess (I don’t have one of my own at my apartment, boo). So I’ve always been a soymilk and oatmeal fan.

The other day, though, I decided to add some of Silk’s seasonal Pumpkin Spice flavor to my oats. I couldn’t decide if I was wasting the precious drink by putting it in oatmeal, but I decided to give it a shot. And, oh, am I glad I did.

Festively delicious.

The result is a creamy, subtly flavorful oatmeal that requires little to no additional sweeteners. It’s seriously amazing, especially with an extra dash of cinnamon on top. I am so very glad I decided to give this a try.

I’m already thinking of what else I could do with this discovery. Chocolate Peppermint Stick Oatmeal, using WestSoy’s amazing holiday beverage? Nog Oats spiced with nutmeg?! What do you think – any great oaty ideas?