Picture this: A hot, fresh family breakfast that’s both healthy and really tasty (even your finicky kid likes it)—all in about half an hour or less. It’s so easy, your Junior Chef could learn how to make it for you, and so endlessly mix-and-match that he or she could own the dish!
Too good to be true?
Not if you prep a quick pan of baked oatmeal tonight. Grab a kitchen helper, tie on some aprons, and have some fun!
Oatmeal is a whole-grain, healthy powerhouse, especially if you top it with fruit and nuts. Many kids don’t eat enough fiber—a good rule of thumb is your child’s age plus five grams. A cup of oatmeal has 4 grams, so kids stay full longer. And the fiber in oats (a special kind called beta-glucan) is good for lowering cholesterol and maintaining overall heart health.
It’s plain enough that even fussy eaters often gobble it, and a nice base for introducing an infinite variety of other tastes, from sweet (fruit, maple syrup) to crunchy (those nuts).
And this easy scratch recipe serves up more fiber and nutrients and way less sugar than those instant packets.
Plus, it’s completely customizable to your family’s tastes and nutritional needs.
- Can’t eat gluten? Oats don’t contain any and are safe for most people with celiac disease to eat, though if you’re worried, you can find oats labeled gluten-free, which means they’ve not touched any wheat during processing.
- Trying to avoid lots of processed sugars? A wide range of sweeteners work here, from agave to honey to maple syrup to cane sugar to juice to applesauce—or just the fruit itself.
- Like certain fruits and nuts better than others? Use your favorites and skip the ones you don’t like. (In fact, we got so excited about the possible flavor combinations that we’ve provided five suggestions for putting your own unique twist on the recipe.)
Why baked oatmeal?
You get all the benefits of oatmeal, with make-ahead ease, and no stirring on a Saturday morning. The yummy smell alone might call everyone to the table.
Plus, if you’re feeling reeeally lazy, you don’t even need a spoon!
It’s pretty flexible and endlessly modifiable. Here’s the gist of it:
Mix 2 cups rolled oats, ½ c. nuts, 1 t. baking powder, and 1-2 t. spice (like cinnamon or nutmeg, and a little salt). Place in an 8-inch square baking dish. (Bonus points for efficiency if you mix the dry ingredients directly in the baking dish.)
Then whisk liquids together: 2 c. milk, 1 egg, 2 T. melted butter, and a little sweetener, like a splash of vanilla plus ¼ c. sugar or maple syrup. Pour over the oatmeal mixture.
Add 1-2 cups of fresh, frozen, or dried fruit before or after the liquids, or add fresh fruit after baking.
Bake about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve with fruit and yogurt or milk.
We love Heidi Swanson’s baked oatmeal recipe as a delicious starting point.
What you need to do tonight:
- Get out all the ingredients.
- Assemble them in the pan as the recipe instructs.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil and put it in the refrigerator.
What you need to do tomorrow morning:
- Bake as the recipe directs.
- Dig in!
- Follow the entire recipe tonight.
- Cover with aluminum foil or transfer to smaller containers after it cools. It’s not essential to refrigerate if you’re planning to eat it the next morning, which makes for a slightly speedier breakfast (it tastes great at room temp, too). But if you’re worried, or making more than tomorrow’s breakfast (see below), stick it in the fridge and pop it in the microwave when you’re ready to eat.
One added bonus:
Have a busy week ahead? Double the recipe, bake in a bigger pan, and refrigerate in individual microwave-safe containers. Each morning, just pop the servings you need into the microwave and enjoy. You can even grab and go if you don’t have time to sit and eat.
Flavor combinations to try!
Berry Crazy – use a mix of fresh or frozen berries like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Almonds and walnuts make a perfect complement.
Tropical Bliss—use fresh or frozen pineapple and mango chunks for the fruit. Swap out coconut oil for the butter, and use cashews.
Fall for Fall—use crisp apples (Fujis are a favorite in our house) and dried cranberries. Up the cinnamon and nutmeg, and use pecans.
Throwback to Summer—Mix frozen peaches and blueberries with shelled pistachios and a pinch of ginger.
Chocoholic Frolic—Try just half a cup of raisins, dates, or currants, or maybe a sliced banana, and a cup of chocolate chips. Or skip the fruit entirely and enjoy what’s essentially an oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie eaten with a spoon. Hey, it’s a Saturday thing!
Whatever way you mix it, you’re one step closer to a good morning tomorrow!
Photos from top: Smiling Reese, Oatmeal, Part 2, Lazy eater (“Get in my mouth, oatmeal, baked oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts, Delicious Berries, NP pineapple, Yummy Apples, Peachy, Oatmeal, Chas loves his mommy