Saturday, December 21, 2013

Noms: Apple pie baked oatmeal for one (Blogmas day 2)

While it pains me to say this, I have to get it off my chest. I'm not proud, but there is a dark secret curled up in my past that I haven't been honest about.

I used to skip breakfast.

For those of you who know me and are aware of the troubles I've had regarding my "relationship with food" (am I the only one who hates that phrase?), this may not come as a surprise. But for everyone else, my current self is as appalled and as ashamed as you are.

I've been through many breakfast phases, and as a die-hard habit eater, once I find a meal I like, I stick with it. It just so happens that for many years, that was no breakfast at all.

I knew the science, people told me that breakfast is the "most important meal of the day," but I just didn't want it. Maybe because I had damaged my metabolism so badly that eating in the morning sounded painful, or maybe just because in my no-sugary-cereal household, breakfast was not appealing. As a blossoming pre-teen, I couldn't cook, I didn't like yogurt, I didn't like eggs, and anything that took more than 5 minutes was a definite no; I was trying to stock up on as much beauty sleep as possible. Boy did I need it. But after eleven or so years of cheerios and wheat chex, breakfast lost its appeal.

If I'd known then what I know about loving your body, and loving food, maybe I would have eaten breakfast. But maybe... I should have just made this oatmeal.

Don't have time for oatmeal? One of these GIANT Cripps apples is a perfect breakfast on its own. These apples rock!
Not everyone is an oatmeal fan. In fact, I know an absurdly large number of people who swear they won't touch a bowl of oatmeal. While I used to understand this outlook, I am now a firm believer that anyone who doesn't like oatmeal just hasn't had good enough oats.

At college, healthy breakfast options are a little limited, but oatmeal is always there. I eat a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon and banana or apple every morning. It's a must. However, I understand why people may not love the giant vats of plain oatmeal that they serve in the cafeteria.

But oatmeal is so much more than just plain cooked oats. Oats can transform themselves into breads, cookies, mountains of pillowy goodness, or really whatever you want. I put them in smoothies, muffins, and pretty much anything I can. Did I mention they're SUPER good for you? They keep me feeling full and energized all morning, and are chalk full of all antioxidants and good stuff that can lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, and even boost immunity. Are you sold yet?

This morning's oat adventure is one of my favorites. Apple pie baked oatmeal. Apples, cinnamon, vanilla, all baked into a dense little cake of happiness? YUM.

I love baking oatmeal. While I keep mine a little underdone to give it some runny goodness, baked oatmeal takes on a chewy, soft texture that I can't get enough of. It's not a bread, or a cake, or oatmeal. It's the perfect blend of all of the above. Add to that all the makings of a good apple pie, and I'm sold.

This whole breakfast comes in at around 350 calories, takes about 30 minutes from start to finish (31 minutes if you include the time it took me to shovel this puppy down my throat....), and is so easy that my boyfriend could do it. This is the Chinese kid who couldn't figure out how to cook rice in a rice cooker by following directions we're talking about. It's that simple.

So, without further ado: Apple pie baked oatmeal for one. Enjoy!

Apple Pie Oatmeal
Serves: 1
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15-8 minutes

1/2 C. dry steel cut or rolled oats
1/2 C. your favorite milk (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 packet of stevia, or the desired amount of any sweetener of choice
1 small apple (or 1/2 of a large one -- I used A LOT of apple)
Apple pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves)*
Pinch of salt
Sprinkle of brown sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly grease a ramekin
2. In a small bowl, combine oats, milk, vanilla, baking powder, salt, stevia, and apple pie spice
3. Chop apple (I chopped mine pretty finely) and add to oat mixture. Fold together well
4. Pour into ramekin
5. Top with a light sprinkle of brown sugar and extra apple pie spice
6. Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes depending on your oven (I like mine a little underdone, cook for about 22 minutes if you want this to be drier. It will take on a more muffin-y texture).

*I eyeball the spices and make my own mixture since I don't love cloves but I have an addiction to cinnamon. About 1/4 teaspoon of each would probably do it, but don't be afraid to add more spice. What's the point of bland oatmeal?

**Pro tip: If you want the top to be crunchy and browned a little, at the end of the cooking, set your oven to broil and keep the oatmeal in for another 3 minutes

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