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doing the work

Recipe: baked oats

Time is doing strange things because of my intense focus on my health, diet, and exercise of late. I feel as if all the moods of spring have been smashed into the past few weeks. As we stare an approaching heat wave in the face, it’s hard not to reminisce about the late May snow just two weeks ago. And then there is the delirium of morel season, getting buzzed by countless hummingbirds, bright green new growth popping up at every turn, and all of the baby animals we catch glimpses of in the woods. It’s dizzyingly wonderful.


emerging sunshine melts snow off our weather station

brilliant crimson columbine in bloom

friends gave us baby asparagus seedlings from feral seeds

never certain if the morels will come up, but always jubilant to see them



As with any first batch of morels, I’m tempted to reserve some for the express purpose of frying and shoving them in my pie hole. But I’ve worked hard to wean myself off of sugary, fried, fatty, and refined carb foods the last three months – so much so that many of these foods have lost some of their once irresistible appeal. I made a morel bourbon cream sauce for Jeremy to enjoy on steak (his reward for finding the first morel of the season!) and reserved a dozen morels to fry. Instead of the usual flour-based breading, I opted for fine cornmeal as a healthier whole-grain alternative. They were good, but I stopped after a few when that initial fried deliciousness gave way to mindless consumption.

cornmeal-coated fried morels



Some folks have asked what I’ve been eating since I learned I am diabetic. That’s a hard question to answer. It was all pretty overwhelming at the start as I had to educate myself on type 2 diabetes, blood sugar levels and how they are affected by different foods and exercise, nutrient requirements, and the best way for *me* to lose weight. I now have a decent set of recipes in my quiver to get me through a good month of meals and have begun to tinker with new recipes that don’t require much effort and are hugely convenient for breakfast or a snack.

baked oats with huckleberries



I came across baked oats in my search for healthier snacks which led me to i am a food blog’s baked oats. Apparently this recipe was all the rage on TikTok a million years ago and I was completely unaware because social media is a garbage hole time suck that I am treating like added sugar: unnecessary and not good for me. The claim is that this is like having cake for breakfast, but “healthy” because it is made from rolled oats (or oat flour). I made it healthier by omitting the sugar, using almond milk, opting for add-ins like fruit instead of cookies or candy or cream cheese, and reducing the serving size. I really like that it is highly customizable.

the base recipe: almond milk, vanilla extract, rolled oats, eggs, bananas, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, oil (for greasing the vessels)



If using rolled oats (don’t use steel cut oats), a high speed blender is needed to get the batter to a smooth consistency. If you don’t have a high speed blender, you can use the equivalent weight (not volume) of oat flour and mix everything together with a food processor or hand mixer. Just be sure to mash the heck out of those bananas. And if you have no issues adding sweetener to your baked oats, you can use sugar, honey, maple syrup or other substitutes in the appropriate amounts, since some are not 1:1 sugar replacements. I don’t have any experience with sugar replacements like Stevia or monkfruit sugar other than unknowingly buying an iced tea that was sweetened with Stevia and pouring it out after one sip. It was disgusting. Not sure if you want to omit the sugar? I think if you can enjoy unflavored oatmeal with just added fruit and no other sweeteners, you will be fine with this. The banana does contribute some sugar to the base recipe.

into the blender it goes

a smooth batter



I tested three different “flavors” of baked oats: strawberry with lemon zest, huckleberry with lemon zest, and chocolate with raspberries. I made enough batter for 6 half-cup bakes. Most recipes make 1-cup bakes, but that is a lot of carbohydrates in one sitting. I find the lemon zest and berries boost the sweetness nicely. I chop my strawberries into tiny pieces to get a better distribution of fruit. Instead of huckleberries, you can always use blueberries.

add-ins: strawberries and lemon zest, huckleberries (frozen) and lemon zest, raspberries and unsweetened cocoa powder

whisking the cocoa powder into the batter

blendering the lemon zest with the rest of the batter



Chocolate was my least favorite, but that’s because I’m not a huge fan of chocolate. It would have benefited the most from some added sugar in the batter, sweet add-ins (like chocolate chunks, crumbled cookies, etc.) or sweetened whipped cream on top if you wanted to emulate a more dessert-like experience. Both fruity versions were perfect for my breakfasts or snacks. When baking these individual “cakes”, I found it helpful to lightly grease the ramekins. You could also try to bake them in muffin tins lined with parchment paper (I have read that they stick like crazy to muffin papers).

brushing a light coat of oil inside the ramekins

topped with fruit to bake

cooling



I delayed posting this recipe by a day because I wanted to try making baked oats in a baking pan. I’m all for minimizing effort and cleanup and having several grab-and-go portions on hand. I doubled the recipe below and poured it into an 8×8-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper and baked at a slightly higher temperature for longer. It worked beautifully except for the flap of parchment that curled over and stuck to a quarter of the “cake” surface. I just left it in place and after it cooled, the parchment peeled back without any complaint. I sliced it into 16 2-inch squares. The edges are more baked through with a more open crumb. The center pieces tend to be dense and almost custard-like.

baked oats with huckleberries in a pan

a corner piece



Baked oats can be baked longer to get a fluffier (think dense cake) texture or baked less for more gooey centers. They are truly best when warm from the oven, but perfectly fine when cooled and/or reheated. I really love these in bar form to tuck into my pack for a hike, or bring with me when running errands all day. They store well in the refrigerator and can be frozen for longer term (up to 3 months). Substitute for the eggs and milk to make these vegan, use gluten-free oats for gluten-free baked oats. Be sure to check out Steph’s post for all manner of substitutions and flavor combinations.

happy to be baking again

the edges are my favorite part



Baked Oats
[print recipe]
from i am a food blog

base recipe
1 cup (90g) rolled oats
1/2 cup almond milk (any milk will do)
1 (120g) medium banana
2 eggs
2 tbsps sugar, honey, or maple syrup (I omitted this)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-ounce capacity ramekins or other oven-safe vessels if making full servings. Grease four if you want half-servings. Place ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Stir any add-ins into the batter and divvy evenly among the ramekins. Bake 20-35 minutes for half servings and 25-45 minutes for full servings until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the tops rebound when gently pushed. Makes 2 full servings or 4 half servings. Let cool completely and store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Cake pan option: Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8×8-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper. Double the recipe above. Stir in your add-ins. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake 30-45 minutes (doneness depends on your oven, your pan, and any add-ins) until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top rebounds when gently pushed. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Makes 16 2-inch squares. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or cut, wrap, seal in airtight packaging, and freeze for up to 3 months.

berry variation
2 tsps freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 cup (60g or 2 oz.) berries (huckleberries, chopped strawberries, blueberries, etc.)

Add the lemon zest to the base recipe. Blender the batter until smooth. Gently stir the berries into the batter.

chocolate-raspberry variation
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsps (30g or 1 oz.) fresh raspberries

Add the cocoa powder to the base recipe ingredients and blend together. Gently fold the raspberries into the batter.


more goodness from the use real butter archives

steel cut oatmeal cranberry oatmeal cookies crunchy granola strawberry crisp

9 nibbles at “doing the work”

  1. Cathryn says:

    This looks great! Very close to the waffles I make for my littles most mornings…that recipe is a banana + 2 eggs + 1/4 cup of oats all blended, sometimes with a handful of berries added and lightly blended at the end for some uneven chunks. Coconut flour works too but only a couple of tablespoons at most since it absorbs so much liquid.

    So sorry to hear about your diabetes. My spouse has it in his family and was showing signs of pre-diabetes years ago and it was a lot to learn and saying goodbye to a lot of favorite recipes and figuring out the new ways. Wishing you all the best!

  2. Heather says:

    this looks delicious — i love the idea of healthy cake for breakfast!! Also I love your honesty re: the stevia iced tea– I’m with you on that (blech) and also anything sweetened with monkfruit — not for me! also huge kudos for taking care of yourself and managing your diabetes. It is a lot of work but sounds like you have stepped up to the challenge.

  3. Bette says:

    Unsolicited health advice is the worst, right? But I’m still going to recommend The Thirty Day Diabetes Cure, by Dr. Stefan Ripich. Reading this book and following its simple, 30-day plan cured my Type II diabetes — and then reversed my husband’s, my mother’s, and my best friend’s diabetes. After 11 years, whenever my numbers head in the wrong direction, I re-read the book and reorient my life for a month or two, and voila, I’m back on track. My doctor recommends this book to her patients after my success story, and I highly recommend it to you and your readers.

    Morels — yum!!

  4. M.K. says:

    These look delicious! Please keep on with low carb recipes, and of course lovely photos of your life and times. Speaking of which, are there still morels about, or am I too late to go foraging?

  5. Mary says:

    I found out recently that I have stage 5 kidney disease. Trying to learn to eat a whole new way has been a challenge that I’ve still not fully mastered. And it’ll change again once I start doing dialysis. Getting older certainly is an adventure, isn’t it?

  6. jenyu says:

    Cathryn – I’ll have to try that waffle recipe, thanks! I plan to play around with a few (including whole wheat waffles) to see which ones taste best and work best with my blood sugars. It’s a bit of a monkey wrench having to retool all of my recipes, but I will admit that I feel better than I have in a long time (like in decades)!

    Heather – Yeah, I think it’s probably my biggest obstacle to finding good diabetic recipes online – EVERYONE uses sugar substitutes and I don’t like them, nor do I think fake sugars promote healthy eating attitudes about sweets. Even using bananas here has sugars, but it comes with fiber and other nutrients.

    Bette – Well, there is no cure for diabetes, but you can certainly get it into remission (which is my goal!). Thanks for the recommendation, it actually looks legit (unlike a lot of garbage out there today…). I’ll have a look.

    MK – Oh sweetheart, these are not “low carb”, they are just “healthy carbs” from whole grains as opposed to refined carbs. The heat is really drying things up now, so I suspect there won’t be many morels left.

    Mary – Ha ha, I turned 50 last year, so you could call it an adventure ;) I hope you can get the disease under control and live comfortably. Wishing you the best <3

  7. Marissa says:

    So good to see you. I am not sure if I am missing your posts but this was a treat in my inbox for sure. The oats look really good and I am sure you familiar with Nom Nom Paleo, but if you are not. She is brilliant and some of her meals my suite your new diet. So much love to you and Jeremy.

  8. Julia says:

    Pretty please request – saw on insta that you have perfected a recipe for 5 spice pressed tofu! Any chance of sharing? I’ve been trying to get it right for a while.

  9. Kate says:

    Hi Jen,

    I’ve followed your blog for years as a Minnesota resident who misses the beautiful scenery in my home state and sister in Boulder. Any chance you’d be willing to share some of the healthy recipes in your quiver? I’m also looking for low sugar, low refined carb food options and trust your impeccable recipes! Many thank and wishes for good health.

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