President’s Day weekend, I’m doing a 12.3-mile hike of Taum Sauk Peak in the St. Francois Mountains. It’s a small section of the larger 400 mile Ozark Trail. It’s also the highest peak in the state, coming in at just under 1,800 feet. It’s not the Rockies, but hey, a girl has to start somewhere! Anyway, my go-to pre-hike breakfast is always a hearty bowl of oatmeal. It’s filling and gives me a steady supply of energy, especially on the long hikes. As with most recipes, I always imagine how I can make them better. Hence, the Cherry Berry Baked Oatmeal, hearty enough to eat with a fork, it can be modified in an infinite number of ways. It’s great because I can wrap it in foil and eat it in the car. I like to top it with flaked coconut, a little drizzle of warmed maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon!
Many baked oatmeal recipes use eggs, which are used for two things- adding protein and binding all of the ingredients together. Some recipes also use applesauce or mashed banana, which are great for reducing the calories. Unfortunately, they also have reduced binding capacity. For this recipe, I opted to use the often overlooked, great at hiding in the background chia seed! Chia not only adds protein with minimal calories, but they are also an excellent binder. They’re loaded with antioxidants and omega-three fatty-acids! I added baking powder to lift this otherwise dense and sometimes hard to swallow dish! Trust me, my ability to speak has been rendered useless by oatmeal on more than one occasion! Insert wink emoji.
You can make this a year-round treat by adding other seasonal stone fruits, like apricots and plums! You can make it on Sunday and enjoy it for the rest of the week! It’s also a nice change-up for me from my typical fruit and vegetable smoothie. The truth is, subconsciously it’s my desire to make my house smell like cinnamon and baked fruit. Enjoy!
- 1 cup oat milk (or other plant-based milk)
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
- 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar (plus additional 1/3 cup)
- 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
- 1 ripe banana, mashed
- 3 cups old-fashioned whole oats
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups cherries and mixed berries, fresh or frozen (divided in half)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- Vegan whipped cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Mix the water and chia seeds in a liquid (glass) measuring cup and set aside.
- Place the oats, nuts, and 1 ½ cups of the cherry/berries in a medium mixing bowl.
- In a small saucepan, bring 2/3 cup brown sugar, banana, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the coconut oil has melted and ingredients are well combined. Remove from heat. Add chia mixture and milk, stir until incorporated.
- Add wet ingredients to dry oat mixture and stir until combined. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch round or square baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, until oats are slightly golden.
- When oats are done, remove from oven and let cool, about 20 minutes. The oatmeal should be a little soft when you remove it and will firm up as it cools.
- Meanwhile, while oats are cooling, add the remaining 1 ½ cups cherry/berries and 1/3 cup brown sugar to a medium saucepan. Over medium-low heat, simmer berries and brown sugar with a pinch of sea salt until berries break down and become syrupy, about 7-10 minutes.
- Serve hot berries over cooled oats and add additional toppings such as whipped cream, coconut flakes and pecans, if desired. Enjoy!
This oatmeal keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
This mixture can be stripped down into a no-bake, and made hike-thru friendly by subbing protein powder for milk and using dried fruit. Also, skip the coconut oil and baking powder.