Breakfast for your Valentine
Love is in the air this month. I know there are people who think Valentine’s Day is a “Hallmark holiday” designed to sell cards, but an occasion to let people know I love them has always seemed a good idea to me.
And as usual, one of the first ways I think of expressing love is through food. Soon there will be chocolates, cookies, and a multitude of other heart-shaped treats here, there, and everywhere, and I’m all in. What better way to say you love someone than to fill their tummy with something delicious? When Cupid’s arrow flies on a weekend, I’m known to make a fancy dinner or an elaborate chocolate cake, but this year, Valentine’s Day is on a Wednesday – a decidedly unromantic day of the week. What’s a hopeless romantic like me to do?
A weekday for me is generally jam-packed with a long to-do list and a short time to connect with my love. Anything that takes longer than half an hour to prep is out of the question, and there’s a really good chance that meals will be eaten in shifts due to a myriad conflicts. Talk about killing the mood! Still, carving out a few minutes for breakfast is a fun way to start the day together, and an early start means interruptions are kept to a minimum.
I tested a number of breakfast dishes in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day, including Japanese puffy pancakes. In all the photos I looked at, these masterpiece pancakes looked luscious and beautiful, and due to the high egg content, were actually pretty high in protein. It turns out, though, that getting these stove-top souffles to rise and hold their shape is no mean feat, one that I have yet to master. Regular pancakes are quick and easy, but a pile of carbs topped with syrup (more carbs) is best left to a weekend when I can take a nap immediately following my meal. I tested a high-protein, gluten-free version of pancakes that looked wonderful, smelled amazing … and tasted like a cardboard box. I finally decided I would need to go with something I already had in my cooking repertoire, something that would produce reliable results.
What I have here is a souped-up version of my standby baked oatmeal. There’s a lot to love here, not the least of which is the fact that it can be made ahead of time. In fact, I recommend it – this baked breakfast gets better after an overnight rest, which allows all the ingredients to meld. The mixture is blended (I used my faithful immersion blender), so the oats are nearly undetectable. A bit of maple syrup makes them lightly sweet and the applesauce adds moisture and flavor. What makes them really special is the maple yogurt. Adding just a smidgen of maple syrup to Greek yogurt tones down its tang and takes this dish from ho-hum to something worthy of a holiday celebration.
I recommend making this for Valentine’s Day and then putting it on repeat throughout the year. This breakfast is high on the health scale – fiber from the oats, protein from the yogurt, and a reasonable amount of sugar means this really is a great way to start a busy day. What’s not to love?
Baked oatmeal with maple yogurt
It’s best to make this baked oatmeal the night before serving it. It will keep for three or four days in an airtight container. If you don’t have an immersion blender, ingredients can be poured into a regular blender.
For the oatmeal:
- 1 ½ cups old fashioned oats
- ½ cup cinnamon applesauce
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
Combine the ¼ cup Greek yogurt with the maple syrup and refrigerate. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease an 8X4 loaf pan. Combine all the oatmeal ingredients in a bowl and blend with an immersion blender. The mixture will not be entirely smooth, but blend until most the oats are broken up and the mixture is well combined. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Allow the oatmeal to cool, ideally overnight, then cut into squares and serve with the Greek yogurt topping. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a drizzle of syrup if desired.
Article and photo by Lisa Crockett