Meatless Monday – Berry Baked Oatmeal

Apparently today is National Strawberry Day, and who among us doesn’t love strawberries? I started my day with a green smoothie–spinach, pineapple, strawberries, and ginger, blended with water–and plan to end it with a fresh spinach and strawberry salad with balsamic vinaigrette served alongside leek and potato soup.

I discovered this recipe in something of a panic: I had to bring something to a women’s group gathering. I already had something store-bought to share and wanted something homemade to go with it. I didn’t want to make another trip to the store, so what–oh what?–could I make with on-hand ingredients?

Have I mentioned UC Davis Integrative Medicine? They promote a plant-based diet as the number one way to successfully prevent, halt or reverse serious health conditions such as obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. They post current nutrition research and lots of delicious recipes. Really, I’ve tried a bunch of their recipes and feel A-OK recommending them as a reliable site for yummy goodness.

I’d just received an email with their Top 10 breakfasts and Berry Baked Oatmeal was on the list. I modified it (of course I did), mostly because I needed to feed more than two. The girls chowed down the whole dish (one said, “I thought it was just another fruit crisp but it’s more than that!”) so I made it again last night as dessert to serve friends. Tween refused to go to bed before he’d had two helpings.

To be honest, I didn’t use strawberries. I used frozen mixed berries–blueberries, raspberries and blackberries–but absolutely you could use strawberries, especially if you cut them into smaller bites. I also started with frozen bananas, microwaved for 30 seconds at a time until I could easily mash them. Why? Because my kids are super-picky about bananas and will only eat them just-turned-yellow (maybe still slightly green). When they get spots I peel them, cut them in half, and toss them in a ziplock in the freezer to use in smoothies.

And I give you permission right now to customize, as I did. If you want strawberries, go for it. Only one kind of berry, that’s fine, or add some chopped apples for extra crunch. Don’t like craisins? Use raisins instead, or another dried fruit–chopped dried apricots, or dates, or a combo. Add some toasted unsweetened coconut. Use a different sweetener or none at all. You can sub different nuts or leave them out, too; I made an individual ramekin-portion for a nut-free friend. Make it your own, but make it!berry-baked-oatmeal

Berry Baked Oatmeal
Serves 6-8

2 heaping cups of berries, fresh or frozen
1 orange, cut in half
1 Tbsp fresh-grated ginger
1 tsp cinnamon, divided use
3-4 ripe bananas
½ c craisins (or other dried fruit)
½ c chopped walnuts (optional)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 c gluten-free rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350. Layer the bottom of a 2-qt baking dish with berries. Squeeze juice of half the orange over. Sprinkle with grated ginger and ½ tsp cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mash bananas. Add craisins, nuts, vanilla, maple syrup and stir. Add ½ tsp cinnamon, juice of remaining half of the orange, and oats; stir to combine. Top berries with oatmeal mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm.

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