It’s Sunday morning. Your eyes slowly open and roll over to peer out your window, only to find snow softly falling in the dim daybreak. An untouched, white blanket covers the ground, with not a single soul in sight to disturb the peace. No students hustling to the library, no squirrels sprinting up and down the trees playing tag; it seems as though everyone is still asleep. It is quiet and calm, fitting for the ideal “Sunday morning” we can all picture in our heads. The kind of morning where all you have to do is just be. No obligations, no time-constraints, nowhere to be except for in the comfort of your own home. You start to imagine the relaxing feeling of putting on your most cozy sweatpants, planting yourself on the couch, and staying “horizontal” all day long.
But then you remember you’re still in college! Obligations? Pretty sure you committed to proof-reading both of your roommates’ papers today. Time-constraints? Don’t forget about that group project meeting at 11am and that advising session at 2pm. Somewhere to be? I mean, you should probably finish that load of laundry you started last night, and get moving on the next load while you’re at it, so you don’t get behind again. Then, once you finish that, it might be best to get the ball rolling on that research assignment due on Wednesday you haven’t started yet. But no pressure, I’m just saying…
When you are constantly spinning like a top, it is hard to find time for yourself. Even the simplest acts of self-care, like remembering to grab a bite to eat between the seemingly infinite daily tasks you have planned, can feel impossible to squeeze in. I can’t count how many times I’ve sat down at a dinner with friends after a day filled with non-stop work and commitments, only to hear someone blurt out, “Wow! This is the first thing I’ve eaten all day!” While it is hard for many to admit, I think we’ve all been there. You wake up, blink twice, and the day is over, all the while forgetting to provide your body with the energy it needs to help you accomplish what you set out to achieve. Well, no more of that. I’ve found the perfect solution.
It is on those overwhelming mornings when I wake up to the brutal reality of needing to begin an encyclopedia length to-do list, that I find solace in prepping a warm bowl of baked oats. There is simply no better recipe suited for when I’m eager to start checking off boxes, but am not yet fully awake enough to sit down and enjoy a hearty breakfast. You know, like when your brain is still a little foggy and that first cup of coffee just hasn’t hit quite yet? This is that time. I can begin rattling off tasks with ease as the oats bake in the background and begin to fill my apartment with scents of cinnamon and vanilla. First load of laundry done, next load in, 3 emails sent off with an affirming swoosh, and wait, I actually just vacuumed the whole living room. I didn’t even know I owned a vacuum… When the oven timer goes off, more than a handful of tasks have already been successfully completed, and a satisfied smile forms across my face as I start checking off the first few boxes on the to-do list. Whew! What’s more, one could honestly mistake the room for a bakery, as the sweet aroma of the oats has now fully taken over the whole apartment. Hunger finally begins to set in as the smell of the sugary cloud hanging over me becomes undeniable. Perfect timing! I couldn’t imagine a better start to the day.
This Sunday morning, before picking up that to-do list, think about you first. Don’t forget that the most important obligation you could possibly have is making time to be present with yourself. It is as simple as taking a few minutes to sit back and enjoy spoonfuls of some homemade oven-baked oats.
½ cup oats
½ cup vanilla almond milk
½ mashed banana
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup blueberries
Coconut oil cooking spray (or grease of choice)
Preheat the oven to 350℉. Mix the oats, vanilla almond milk, baking powder, and cinnamon in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mash the banana with a fork until soft. Then add the mashed banana into the bowl with the mixture of oats, vanilla almond milk, baking powder, and cinnamon and stir all of the ingredients together. Finally, gently mix in the blueberries so that they remain whole and are not squished. Grease an oven safe bowl with either coconut oil cooking spray (or an oil or butter of your choice!) and pour the finished oat mixture in. You will want to bake the oats for about 25 minutes, until the top is just lightly crisp and browned, while the inside still remains moist. As for the toppings, that is up to you! Whatever fresh fruit you are craving, chocolate chips, raisins, granola, maple syrup, honey, more cinnamon? The choice is yours. If you wish to add caramelized bananas, you can do so by slicing the other half of your banana in relatively thick, approximately ½-inch slices. This is so that they don’t fall apart or get mushy. Set the stove top to low-heat, spray a pan with coconut oil cooking spray and place the bananas in the pan. Add a drizzle of honey, a dash of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt to the pan if you want a little extra sweetness and flavor! Flip over the slices every so often until they are golden brown. This should only take a few minutes. Add to the top of your baked oats and enjoy!