Blueberry Morning

I love breakfast. I love that feeling of waking up after a good sleep, stomach rumbling and ready to fill, and preparing the first meal of the day. How the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans entices me, the sizzling of a griddle like an ode to the morning, and ah, the feeling of utter satisfaction as my hunger pains are quelled by, pancakes, omelets, waffles, muffins, crepes…

I have a special kind of hatred for cereal. The last thing I want on a frigid, snowy morning is a bowl of mush drenched in cold milk. Blech.
When I was a kid it was usually catch as catch can in my house, and there were plenty of days that began with cereal or overcooked slop served in the school cafeteria. Rehydrated eggs tinged green, little plastic cups of sugary orange juice and patties of grayish sausages that sat in puddles of water as if they had been boiled, were a part of daily life during the less fortunate portions of my impoverished upbringing. But on weekends, I used to wake up and make french toast with leftover, slightly stale bread for my brothers and sister. Sometimes my sister and I would make scrambled eggs with a side of tomatoes in vinaigrette. I learned through my own experience that the first meal of the day should take a little extra time and care.

A hearty breakfast sets the tone for my day and keeps me alert on my nearly two hour commute on the subway. Usually I have a slice of toast with hummus or jam and a piece of fruit, or a bowl of oatmeal, but on Saturdays, I like to indulge in a grander affair. I make whole wheat pancakes, blueberry jam, frittata served hot, and don’t forget the maple syrup. Oh, if only the entire world were drenched in sweet, sweet maple syrup, what a world that would be.

Last weekend, I got these amazing, giant and juicy organic blueberries that were just calling out to me. When I ran into a recipe for baked oatmeal, I knew it was the perfect vehicle for these blueberries. I took a relatively fat and sugar laden recipe and made it my own.

Baked Blueberry Oatmeal
1 ½ cups quick oats
¼ cup molasses
1 Tbsp evaporated cane sugar
¾ cup milk
¼ olive oil
1 egg (or the equivalent, to cut fat you can use a ¼ cup of applesauce instead)
2 Tbsp flax seed meal
¼ cup sliced almonds (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all the ingredients in a 9×9 baking dish. Bake for 20-25 mins.

That’s it. Flax seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which as we all know, helps protect arteries and the heart from building up cholesterol. Oatmeal and flax go well together as flavor components. They are both nutty and the creaminess of the oats compliments the slight bitter taste of flax.

The original recipe called for ¼ cup butter, and a ½ cup of sugar. I’ve made it healthier with flax, replacing the butter for olive oil and trading the sugar with molasses and evaporated cane sugar. Molasses is much healthier than processed sugar, it retains vitamins and minerals lost in the refining process. It is slightly less sweet than sugar, so I add a titch of unprocessed cane sugar to boost the sweetness a bit. I think in the future a mashed banana would do better for sweetness or a few chopped dates rather than adding more sugar.

This is my kind of hot breakfast. Stick to your ribs goodness.

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