Oatmeal is by far my favorite breakfast. I love a good chia pudding, a savory tostada or breakfast burrito, or a simple serving of avocado toast. But no matter how humble or predictable a warm bowl oats may be, nothing can take their place.
Which leaves me with the conundrum of finding a way to enjoy oats when it’s 99 degrees and humid outside. Muesli is one appealing option, but it doesn’t quite have the heartiness as a warm bowl of oats does—at least not for me. So, one of my favorite and flexible summertime oat solutions is to make baked oatmeal. Thirty-five minutes of seemingly insane oven use creates a dish of oats that can be cut and served either hot or cold, depending on what temperature it is outside. As an added bonus, baked oats are tasty enough to double as dessert (albeit a super-healthy one).
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In this recipe, rolled oats meet sweet berries and vanilla to create a breakfast that’s both easy and special. If you can use vanilla paste, fresh vanilla bean, or vanilla powder, I strongly recommend it. It’ll create more flavor (and cooking aroma). The berries could be traded for chopped peaches or plums, or for chopped apple or pear in the fall. If you love hand-picking your oatmeal toppings as much as I do, you’ll find it equally fun to hand-pick the mix-ins for this dish. Add some dried fruit, different kinds of nuts or seeds, or different baking spices to transform the dish into something new.
1 tablespoon ground flax meal 3 tablespoons warm water 2 1/2 cups rolled oats 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean, scraped (or substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract) 1/3 cup maple syrup, plus more for serving 2 1/4 cups almond or soy milk, plus more for serving 1 tablespoon canola oil or melted coconut oil 1 1/2 cups fresh mixed berries, plus a few extra for topping 1/4 cup sliced almonds or chopped pecans 2 tablespoons organic brown sugar Jam and/or nut butter, for serving (optional)
Gena Hamshaw is a certified nutritionist, recipe developer, and food blogger. She shares her latest culinary adventures at The Full Helping. She's the author of two cookbooks, Food52 Vegan (2015) and Choosing Raw (2014). She enjoys yoga, sweet potatoes, cashews, and things that are smothered in sauce.