08 Jan Banana Nut Steel Cut Oatmeal Bake (vegan, gluten-free)
I know this might be just a tad bit late as we’re a quarter way through the month already (how?!), but I’m not one to let an opportunity to shout exclamations at you via the internet pass me by so…HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
As you may have noticed, I took some much needed time off for the holidays. Not just time off from the blog, but a real, bonafied break. Time away from the office, time away from the glow of the computer screen (and the time warp that is Pinterest), even time away from the warmth of my good friend, the oven.
I disconnected in a major way, and it was bliss — a week and a half of sweatpants til noon, Christmas cookie lunches and daily movie dates with HBO on Demand. I ate all the fudge and ice cream I pleased, and slept in every single day (how late, I’ll never admit). With all of the hardcore relaxing, holiday celebrating and general enjoyment of free time, you might imagine (or be experiencing yourself), it’s been quite hard to get back into the swing of real life. (<– which is why it’s Jan. 8 and I’m just now sharing this recipe.) One can get quite comfortable living a leisurely lifestyle…dangerously comfortable if you’re inclined to napping, snuggling and couch potato-ing, as I am.
BUT it’s a new year, and that means it’s time for all of us to brush off the cobwebs and tackle the world, fresh-faced and bright-eyed, right?! I’m doing my damnedest to muster enthusiasm for fresh start laid out before me, but in reality I have one hell of a holiday hangover. It happens every year. The warmth of Thanksgiving. The magic of Christmas. The sparkle of New Year’s Eve. Then…womp. January hits — the Monday of months and Molly Yeh so accurately puts it — and so begins the self-reflection and questioning. You know what I’m talking about — the what am I going to accomplish this year?s and the what am I doing with my life?s, and let’s not forget the shit, my pants don’t fit!s. [insert meltdown emoji]
Though it’s a double-edged kind of anxiety, if you know what I mean. One one hand, we all have plenty on our plates without the pressure to examine ourselves under a figurative microscope, picking out our favorite flaws and resolving to correct them (I think most of us do quite enough of that throughout the rest of the year), but on the other hand it’s that very anxiety that breeds progress. That pushes us to live happier, more fulfilled lives. I suppose it’s a matter of channeling new year’s anxiety in a positive way, turning something potentially detrimental into a kind of excitement for diving headfirst into the vast unknowns of the year laid out ahead us. We must be brave!
Which is why I have somewhat begrudgingly put together a [mental] list of resolutions for myself. Not to be shared, but to be mediated on and hopefully realized in the coming months. One resolution that I will share though, is my goal to get back to a more balanced, healthful way of eating. (Myself and the rest of mankind, I know…at least it’s a healthy bandwagon?) While it may appear otherwise when examining this little corner of the web, I do try to maintain a healthy lifestyle (yay kale!), though lately I have found myself intensely craving sugar all of the time. (I can’t imagine why!) So, to reset my system and remind my body of just how amazing it feels to consume fresh, whole foods I’ve embarked on a 21-day cleanse…also called a “purification program” but I can’t seem to take myself seriously when I say that. Not one of those crazy juice ones (I’d die, like, instantly) but more of an all you can eat veggies and fruits, but no dairy, grains or refined sugars kind of one. For this reason, and assuming many of you are on some sort of similar mission (if not, eat a cookie for me!), this month’s recipes are going to fit into one or more of the following categories — light, wholesome, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free, or just generally “healthed up”.
We’re starting with this Banana Nut Steel Cut Oatmeal Bake. The recipe produces a baked oatmeal that is perfect for long, chilly Sunday mornings — the kinds with several cups of coffee and time spent pouring over the New York Times crossword. It’s got all the flavors of a classic banana bread, but without the refined flours and sugars. Instead, the oats provide a nutty bite that is complemented by the creaminess of the bananas and almond milk, and when baked, melt together into a perfectly satisfying breakfast casserole of sorts. I chose to use steel cut oats in this recipe because not only are they lower on the glycemic index and (arguably) higher in fiber and nutrients than other varieties, but they also have a chewy, toasty flavor that I just can’t get enough of. They also have a heartier, more wholesome texture that fills you up in the most cozy of ways — cold, windy mornings are no match! In fact, this oatmeal is best when served warm, right out of the oven, sprinkled with pecans and coconut and drizzled with maple syrup…but the cold leftovers eaten straight out of the refrigerator aren’t too shabby either.
Note: Be warned, steel cut oals can take up to 30 minutes to cook on the stove top so if you don’t see yourself finishing the whole box, you can substitute old-fashioned oats in this recipe (see notes).
Enjoy! XO, Katie
A Few Notes About This Recipe:
To make with old-fashioned oats, refrain from boiling the water & almond milk and instead just add them to the mixture at room temperature (cold works too). You’ll also want to start watching for doneness after about 20 minutes, as old-fashioned oats cook more quickly than steal cut.
If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, you can bake this recipe in a casserole dish. Just toast the oatmeal and spices in a regular skillet and transfer to the casserole before adding the liquids.
- 2 cups almond milk (or milk of your preference)
- 1 2/3 cups water
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamon
- 2 ripe bananas
- 3 tablespoons real maple syrup, plus more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup pecan halves, plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
- Preheat the oven to 375F and place your almond milk and water in a saucepan to come to a boil.
- In a small bowl, mash 1 banana with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. Set aside.
- In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, toast the steel cut oats stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Add the cinnamon and cardamom and continue to toast for 1 - 2 minutes, stirring constantly. When things start to smell toasty and delicious, turn off the heat.
- At this point, your almond milk and water should be coming to a boil. Very carefully pour the hot mixture over the toasted oats. Add the bananas, remaining maple syrup and salt and give it a good stir. At this point, your mixture should be very watery (you may not even be able to see the oats).
- Carefully place the skillet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the oats have absorbed much of the liquid. During this 20 minute period, cut the second banana into slices. Remove the skillet from the oven and arrange the banana slices over the top of the oatmeal. Place back in the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
- Once all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture is firm, remove from the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes then garnish with pecans, and toasted coconut. Serve with maple syrup and butter (optional).
- Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 3 days.