We've all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but for the first 16 years of my life I refused to have anything to do with it. There was something so unappealing about food first thing in the morning. After all, I hardly had enough time to get myself ready, let alone make an effort to find something to eat at 7:30 a.m. My first year of high school was the worst and my eating habits were horrendous. I would skip breakfast every single day. And as if that's not bad enough, I never brought a lunch. For some reason at that age I never wanted to be seen eating. (Strange? Yes. But would you expect anything differently from a hormone crazed teenager?) Somehow I managed to pull myself through the day running on little to no energy, unless you count a bag of Miss Vickies chips and a root beer slushie a means of sustainable energy.
This goes to say that when I finally made it home at 3pm, I was weak and weary. I was also positively starving. I would rampantly dig through the cupboards and the fridge and consume whatever crossed my path. After that I was always left with one of those horrible way-too-full stomach aches that made me want to curl up in a little ball for a whole afternoon. This is all in part because of my loathe for breakfast. Goodness gracious.
Then one day something changed. Somewhere within the last few years of high school I began to notice a correlation between how I felt when I ate breakfast and when I didn't. The difference was remarkable! Breakfast=ENERGY. It was a miracle! It was like a light switched on in my head and I had finally solved the puzzle. My conversion wasn't immediate. It took some time and started off small. I forced myself to eat a few bits of an apple or a small bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats, and somehow this effort grew into something much, much larger. Sure, it only took me most of my teenage years to learn what my mother had constantly nagged me about ("Jacqueline! You NEED to eat breakfast! It's the most important meal of the day!") and what most people consider common sense, but finally I got it! I felt like a new woman.
Breakfast is now my favorite meal of the day. I love it. In fact, I look forward to it. Most mornings you will find me in the kitchen happily mixing eggs with fresh herbs and green grape tomatoes, creating the most astounding scrambled eggs (I'm telling you people, the secret is black truffle oil, but I'll save that for another day...)! I'm not even fancy-shmacey ALL the time. I've also been known to grab a bowl homemade granola, yogurt and fresh fruit. Sometimes I even reach for a piece of toast with almond butter and jam.
However, one of my favorite things to eat as of lately is baked oatmeal, and baked oatmeal is what I long to share with you! Okay, okay, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, "Gee, that sound gross." Or, "How incredibly dull!" or something along those lines. But I am here to tell you that, on the contrary, this baked oatmeal is really something else. It will have quite an effect on you, even you who claim to never need breakfast. That is quite the claim but I'm standing by it. I think the secret to this recipe is the eggs. They give the oatmeal an enchantingly light texture with a deep, rich flavor. It is chewy, in a pleasant way, and stick-to-your-bones hearty. The flavor is subtly sweet and slightly spicy. And when topped with a little bit of fruit and yogurt, it positively weak-in-the-knees delicious. Did you hear that? I am willing to bet that this recipe will make you weak in the knees. Yes, even you breakfast haters. Consider yourself warned, you are going to be hooked.
Typically, oatmeal makes me cringe. If I could describe it in one word it would be gloopy. Or soggy. Or gross. However, with a few slight alterations, and the addition of an oven, traditional oatmeal becomes something else. Something wonderful. Something with a delicate flavour and alluring texture. I am quite positive that even if you don't like oatmeal, you will like this. Feel free to play around with the flavours. If you want a little more spice, you could up the cinnamon or add some nutmeg. I prefer this recipe as is, but don't hesitate to experiment!
2/3 cup oil
1 cup sugar
3 2/3 cups oatmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (almond, soy, or regular!)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 and bake in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan for 30 minutes.
There are many ways in which you can enjoy baked oatmeal. My personal favorite is when served slightly warm with fresh fruit, chopped walnuts, and So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt! However, feel free to play around with your toppings! Here are just a few other ideas: dried fruit, brown sugar, chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.), a sprinkle of cinnamon, yogurt, fresh fruit...