Saturday, February 23, 2013

Baked Apple and Cinnamon Oatmeal

When I was a kid I would have been content to eat cereal for every meal of the day. I couldn't get enough of it. Not much has changed, to be honest. Ironically, one breakfast cereal I despised as a kid was hot oatmeal. In fact, I swore that it made me feel ill, and I wasn't just trying to get out of eating it. It really did. All that warm doughy meal in my tummy was just too heavy and warm. My mom tried dressing it up for fruit and nuts, with whole milk and bananas. Nope. I wasn't having it.

Well, my disdain for oatmeal has changed. In fact, oatmeal is now one of my very favorite foods! I would eat it every meal most days if it met all of my nutritional needs! And, I have an incredible recipe for a very simple Baked Apple and Cinnamon Oatmeal that is delicious and a great way to get some whole grains into your morning routine. I don't have this great breakfast as often as I used to because of the high sugar content, but it's perfect for weekends when I know I will be doing heavy cardio endurance workouts. I need that extra energy to power through and this is where I get it!

Here's what you will need:
  • Cutting Board and Chopping Knife
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Large Wooden/Plastic Spoon
  • Large Baking Dish/Casserole

  • 2 1/2 Cups of Old Fashioned Oats
  • 3 1/2 Cups of Unsweetened Almond Milk (Can be Substituted with Dairy Milk or Soy)
  • 1/4 Cup of Raw Cane Sugar (Can be Substituted with Packed Brown Sugar)
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon (Can be Substituted with Apple Pie Spice)
  • 1-2 Medium Sized Apple (Can be Substituted with Pear)
  • 1/2 Cup Raisins or Dried Cranberries (Optional)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts (Optional)

  • Preheat the Oven to 350 degrees
  • Chop the Apple into small pieces
  • Mix the oats, milk, sugar, cinnamon, apple (and raisins/cranberries if you choose to use them) in the large baking dish. 
  • Put the baking dish in the oven and bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. It may be slightly wet when you first take it out of the oven, but the liquids continue to evaporate and be absorbed by the oats. 
  • Let cool for about 5 minutes and then serve. You may choose to garnish with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts or a few raisins along with a little more milk.
(Note the Oatmeal and Cereal Canisters in the Background)

See, I told you it was easy! And seriously, this simple recipe is so delicious it's unbelievable! Now, I have a sweet tooth, and I like to make it with as much as 1/2 cup of sugar, but I've cut back over time as I've started paying more attention to nutrition. I used to use the Quaker Instant Oatmeal packets for a quick breakfast, but this homemade recipe tastes better and packs better nutrition without the preservatives and salt. I find that I can make this dish on Sunday morning, portion out 6 servings, and heat it up in the microwave each morning--it's actually faster than the instant oatmeal and it still tastes great on the 6th day! You can also freeze the portions for a few weeks. I've made this recipe with both honey and agave nectar substituted for the sugar and both turned out really well--so, if you are partial to those forms of sugar, you can make that substitution! I'm not a fan of Stevia at all, so I have not tried making that substitution. If you do try it, leave me a comment about how it worked. (Though, I find most people who use Stevia have a very different perception of its flavor than I do--I just can't get over the bitter and slightly black licorice-y aftertaste. It literally makes me gag sometimes, and that's NOT what I look for from a delicious meal!)

Yield about 6  3/4 Cup Servings

Nutrition deets for 3/4 Cup of this Oatmeal made with 1 apple and without Raisins, Cranberries or Walnuts:
  • Calories 193
  • Total Fat 4g
  • Saturated Fat .4g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0g
  • Sodium 91mg
  • Potassium 72mg
  • Total Carbs 36.6g
  • Dietary Fiber 5.4g
  • Sugars 12g
  • Protein 4.8g
  • Vitamin A 6.2% RDA
  • Vitamin C 1.9% RDA
  • Calcium 28.4% RDA
  • Iron 14.4% RDA
If you had told me at 5 that I would someday write a blog post about my love for oatmeal I would have Karate Kid Crane Kicked you in the balls and run away making gagging sounds. What I lacked in maturity I made up for in balance and a flair for the dramatic arts! I suppose I also would have asked you, "What in gay hell is a blog, mister?" But, our tastes change as we grow up. Even though I'm a lot taller, smarter, and a little bit more mature than I was 35 years ago, I still love cereal and cartoons. It's nice, though, to have a grown up breakfast in my back pocket. And, now you do, too!

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