Due to my dog’s intense separation anxiety, I get dressed in the dark. I sneakily pack a pre-prepared breakfast in my purse, and I (as silently as possible) grab my lunch from the refrigerator. I throw a bone into his dog bed, put on my coat (but don’t zip it), and grab my shoes (but don’t waste time putting them on). I slip out the door and walk to the elevator, and I finish getting ready to bear the cold. I probably spend 15 minutes in my house once I get up in the morning before I’m out the door, and I hear Oscar ruffle out from under the blankets in about that time, eager to see what’s been going on while he’s been asleep. My point is: I need quick, I need quiet, and I need ready-ahead-of-time breakfasts. I’ve dabbled in all sorts of hand-held breakfasts I can eat while I drive to work (once I’m at work, I’m at work, and I can’t eat). There are a slew of internet references to breakfasts on-the-go, but how many can you eat while you drive? This has been the sticking point. Also,my microwave beeps too loudly, so this breakfast must come at room temperature or directly from the refrigerator. It seems superfluous to toil over breakfast ideas so much (it’s just food), but I go a solid 6 hours until lunch time, and I like to start my day on a healthful track. So I revise my statement: I need quick, I need quiet, I need ready-ahead-of-time, I need hand-held and truly on-the-go, and, very importantly, I need healthy and delicious.
I loved oatmeal as my breakfast of choice back when I luxuriously dawdled over breakfast at home, but it is impossible to eat with a spoon in the car (I tried once- very risky and unstable). I perused the internet for awhile, as I often do, and saw a few recipes for baked oatmeal. This was enlightening! It’s like oatmeal you can hold in your hand! And, just like oatmeal, the varieties are endless. I’ve become incredibly in love with trail mix recently- I think it has something to do with Trader Joe’s extensive and fantastic options- and I realized oatmeal is the perfect medium for incorporating trail mix flavors. Thus, my absolute favorite breakfast was born (excluding the few times I’ve made donuts… those were the best. I’ll have a recipe at some point). Even if you have time in the morning, these definitely warrant a try. I’d imagine they’re delicious heated warm on a plate with a side of coffee.
Trail Mix Baked Oatmeal Squares
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup mixed nuts (I used peanuts, walnuts, and pecans)
1/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins (or other dried fruit)
2 tbsp. chopped dark chocolate
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. honey
1 1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare an 8×8 square baking dish with a thin coating of oil or non-stick spray.
In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add honey to the dry mixture and stir until loosely clumped. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and coconut oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix. Allow the mixture to set for 5-10 minutes. Pour the oatmeal mixture into the baking dish and put into the preheated oven. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, until edges are just browning and the oatmeal is firmly set. Allow oatmeal to cool, then serve warm. Alternatively, oatmeal can be cooled entirely and refrigerated, later sliced into squares to serve for the road.
I usually am so excited for weekend breakfasts, intentionally and lazily preparing and eating pancakes or eggs and toast. But these oatmeal squares give those meals a run for their money, and keep me functioning at work as well.