Banana-Berry Baked Oatmeal Bites

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gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bitesYesterday’s culinary experiments were an absolute shitshow.

I know that’s a harsh opening line for your casual blog reading, and I’m sorry, but dear GOD, perfecting these Banana-Berry Baked Oatmeal Bites was a nightmare. I’m still recovering from the trauma.

For the sake of back story, I’ve been wanting to experiment with baked oatmeal for a while (so hot this year), but the thought of taking up precious fridge space with a giant dish of oatmeal in the springtime seemed rather silly. Then I stumbled across some recipes where peeps had bypassed the casserole in favor of baked oatmeal muffins (genius!), and given my finger food fetish, it didn’t take long to realize I should go mini. As you can imagine, the thought of baked oatmeal “bites” got me all kinds of hot and bothered, and I was determined to make them a reality.

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-2 I’ve mentioned before that baking isn’t exactly my strong suit, and based on Domesticate ME!’s recipe archives, it’s pretty clear that I avoid it as much as humanly possible. But every once in a while, I have a really boss idea (i.e. baked oatmeal bites) that motivates me to break out the baking powder and brave the potentially disastrous consequences. So yesterday, I donned my best baking sweat suit and got down on it.

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-3For whatever reason, I was dead set on doing a lemon-poppy seed thing with my bites, and I mixed up an oatmeal batter with that flavor profile in mind. It was very wet and yogurt-heavy, but whatever. It would be creamy and delightful! I spooned it into the mini muffin wells, popped the tin in the oven, and waited for my creation to come to life. Halfway through the baking time, I realized I had forgotten to add baking powder, but again, whatever. The bites probably wouldn’t even need it! I listened to this song on a loop. I drank coffee. I waited.

20 minutes later, I pulled out my finished bites. They didn’t look the best, but I was still hopeful. Looks can be deceiving…

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-4They were disgusting.

In fact,“weird and squishy” would be an overly generous description of those sad little balls. Too much yogurt, I thought. Not enough lemon. Defs need baking powder. I gave myself a mini pep talk and went back to the drawing board.

Batch numbers 2 and 3 were equally disappointing, and I seriously considered throwing in the towel. I was tired, I’d eaten approximately 10 unworthy oatmeal bites, and in an attempt to unearth some vanilla extract from the depths of my spice cabinet, I’d smashed a bottle of cayenne pepper all over the counter/floor. The pepper cloud caused me to cry very real tears, and necessitated a timeout to Google “cayenne inhalation death?” Like I said, shit show.

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-5When I have repeated recipe fails, I either a.) freak out and take a nap, or b.) force myself to go in a completely different direction. Lucky for you, I chose the latter in this case. I had one last shot to make something work with my last 2 cups of oats, so I scrapped the lemon-poppy seed nonsense and added a mashed banana, maple syrup and some lemon zest to my wet ingredients. Then I mixed a good amount of cinnamon into the oats, stirred in a cup of fresh blueberries, and crossed my fingers.

When I pulled that batch out of the oven, they were lightly browned and smelled like sweet, cinnamon-y magic. I was tempted to burn my mouth on one, but instead, I made a game-time decision to sprinkle them with a little brown sugar and stick them under the broiler to caramelize. I forced myself to let those beauties cool for a few minutes like a responsible person, and then I took a bite.

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-6HOT DAMN.

Soft, sweet and bursting with berry flavor, these things are truly little bites of heaven, people. 100% worth the baking PTSD. They make a perfect portable breakfast or snack on their own, but I have to say, they’re pretty unreal topped with almond milk or a dollop of Greek yogurt. And since these babies re-heat like a dream, you should definitely consider keeping a batch in the freezer at all times.

Just FYI, the banana flavor is very subtle here, so even if you’re not a die-hard banana fan, I think you’ll dig these. It’s mostly there to keep things moist (sorry) and to help bind the oats, but if you really hate banana, you can try swapping in ½ cup of apple sauce or yogurt. You should also feel free to mix up your berries based on the season and/or what you have on hand. I imagine these would be fabulous with peaches or cherries this summer… 

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-7Epilogue: I’ll have you know that I got up this morning and met my besties for iced matcha lattes and a walk along the West Side Highway. (My determination to like matcha and exercise knows no bounds!) It was all fun and Sex and the City until we got caught in a torrential downpour and had to walk the last 15 blocks in the rain. When I finally got back to my apartment, freezing and drenched (but still rocking a very non-jittery caffeine buzz from my matcha!), I was Logan-style PSYCHED to remember the bag of oatmeal bites stashed in the freezer. After a few seconds in the microwave, those bad boys became all kinds of soft and fluffy, and despite my rain-induced ‘fro, I’m now feeling pretty fabulous about today.

Banana-Berry Baked Oatmeal Bites: (Makes 20 bites)

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-8Ingredients:
1 ripe banana
1 cup almond milk
1 large egg
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut oil (in liquid form)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup fresh blueberries (or berries of your choice)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)

Preparing your Banana-Berry Baked Oatmeal Bites:

-Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.

-Place the banana in a large bowl and mash well with a fork. Add the almond milk, egg, maple syrup, vanilla extract, coconut oil, lemon zest and juice, and whisk until smooth and well combined.

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-step-1-In a separate bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, salt and baking powder.

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-step-2-Add the dry ingredient to the wet ingredients and whisk to combine.

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-step-3-Stir in the blueberries.

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-step-4-Spoon the oatmeal mixture into the prepared mini muffin tin. Filling the wells almost to the top. You should have enough oatmeal for 20 bites.

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-step-5-Bake for 20 minutes until the oatmeal has set and the tops of the bites are lightly browned.

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-step-6-At this point you can simply let your bites cool, but I like to sprinkle the bites with a little brown sugar…

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-step-7-And then pop them under the broiler for a couple minutes until they get nicely browned and crispy on top.

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-step-8-Let the bites cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes. Serve warm OR carefully transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely and then refrigerate/freeze in an airtight container until you’re ready to eat.

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-step-9I mean, let’s take a moment to appreciate that top. And now the side view…

gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-step-10HOT.

 gluten-free-blueberry-banana-baked-oatmeal-bites-9

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