Different oats for different folks

by Toula Nikas

Over the course of my four years at the University of Toronto I learned to never underestimate the power of the oat. In my mind, oats are a humble “superfood”. Standing next to kale and chia seeds, they’re far from attention-seekers. They’re more like, “Hey, I’ll always be there for you if you promise to take care of me.” Oats aren’t finicky. You can add them to pretty much anything—be it simple or complex—and they won’t cause any trouble. Oats also won’t draw attention to you during that early morning lecture or tutorial. They often make for smooth and chewy breakfasts—unlike the apple that both your classmates and the entire GTA can hear you crunch into.

I thought I’d do oats two ways—in muffin and in oatmeal form. Muffins: because you can make them on a Sunday evening and have them for the week. Oatmeal: because you can let it simmer on the stove while you print that last-minute assignment. I tied these two oatmeal recipes together with strawberry, coconut and banana, but they’re both versatile enough that you can play around with the additions. Walnuts? No problem. Chocolate chips? You saucy minx.

Strawberry, Coconut and Banana Oat Breakfast Muffins

(Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen)

These muffins are great on their own or topped with a dollop of nut butter for extra protein. They can be individually wrapped and frozen or kept in the fridge for four days.

1 ¼ cup pastry flour

1 cup rolled oats

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 cup mashed banana

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

½ cup unsweetened almond milk

2/3 cups diced strawberries

extra sliced strawberries for topping

sweetened, shredded coconut for topping

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare a muffin tin by either brushing it with unsalted butter or vegetable oil, or spraying it with cooking spray. Muffin liners are optional, but be sure to grease those as well.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the first four ingredients, reserving two tablespoon of the mixture to toss with your diced strawberries.
  3. In another large mixing bowl, combine the next four ingredients. Add the egg and egg white and beat until smooth. Add in yogurt and almond milk and again combine until smooth.
  4. Add banana mixture to flour mixture and gently fold until combined.
  5. Bake for 18 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Oat Breakfast Muffins
Strawberry, Coconut and Banana Oat Breakfast Muffins

Strawberry, Coconut and Banana Oatmeal

This oatmeal is perfect for packing in a small thermos or Tupperware. I find it also keeps overnight in the fridge. To reheat, place in a saucepan with some extra almond milk (I like Earth’s Own Almond Milk) and stir until moist and warm.

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2/3 cup quick oats

½ tsp cinnamon

1 heaping tbsp sultana raisins

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1/3 cup fresh, sliced strawberries

½ large banana, sliced

1 tsp sweetened, shredded coconut

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk, oats, cinnamon and raisins. Stir occasionally so that the bottom does not burn. (I usually do this in between applying strokes of mascara or while brushing my teeth.)  
  2. When the oatmeal begins to bubble and raisins begin to soften, bring it down to a simmer until it thickens to your preferred consistency.
  3. Transfer oatmeal into a bowl and top with maple syrup, strawberries, banana, and coconut or whatever your heart desires.
Strawberry, Coconut, and Banana Oatmeal
Strawberry, Coconut and Banana Oatmeal