We have been on a banana kick at hour house lately. Perhaps it’s because the rest of the fruit options are virtually non-existent this time of year, or perhaps we just really like bananas. I personally can’t eat a lot of fresh fruits without risking an allergic reaction; but, bananas are in my safe column, so I eat a lot of bananas. And lately, Kelly, Kyle and even my husband have ben eating bananas too. (Kevin only likes them when they are green).
There are even some weeks when we go through two bunches of bananas. In one week!
And then there are weeks when we overbuy and I find myself staring at a large bunch of quickly-fading, brown-spotted bananas.
Luckily, there are tons of options when it comes to using up bananas on the fly. Like this banana bread, these banana muffins (talk about a throw back post – yikes!), or this sautéed bananas and ricotta.
But this week I wanted something heartier. I was thinking oatmeal, but it had to be easy and make-ahead, because this week is CRAZY. I considered doing a some slow cooker oats and bananas, but then decided that a baked oatmeal would be more versatile. My two youngest kids have given up on breakfast this year, so a more portable “snack” is more likely to be eaten.
This Baked Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal is kind of a cross between traditional oatmeal – you can eat it warm with milk or yogurt, and oatmeal bars – you can also eat it cold as a snack bar. It comes together in a mere minutes and, perhaps not the deciding factor in what makes a recipe great, but it also smells delicious while it bakes. In fact, after smelling this while it was in the oven I enjoyed a nice warm square as soon as I got the photos taken – even though it was 3 in the afternoon and I had just eaten lunch.
To start, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and coated a baking dish with cooking spray. I found this adorable Rae Dunn dish at TJ Maxx the other day and just had to bring it home. Kelly quickly pointed out that it didn’t make any sense for the words to be printed on the bottom (I also bought a loaf pan) because no-one could see them when it was filled with food. Admittedly, I didn’t think of that, but I don’t really care. I still love the look of the white stoneware and for $6 each I’m okay with the dishes’ shortcomings.
Then I combined my dry ingredients, the oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and seeds, in a large bowl. I used toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds because they are safe for Kevin and I almost always have a big batch of freshly-roasted seeds in my pantry. I also threw in a handful of hemp seeds for a slightly nutty flavor, and a nutritional boost. You could use any seeds you desired, or even substitute walnuts or pecans if you are not a nut-free family.
I mashed up my bananas in a large bowl – I like to use a hand mixer for this. Then I added the eggs, applesauce, olive oil and vanilla and mixed well. I did not use any maple syrup because I figured the bananas, applesauce and chocolate chips would make the oatmeal sweet enough for my taste. I also knew I could add some maple syrup or brown sugar to individual servings if anyone wanted a sweeter option. But if you like your foods sweeter, a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup is a great addition to this recipe.
I carefully stirred in the milk, and then I added the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. I stirred just until combined and then mixed in my chocolate chips.
I transferred the oat mixture to my baking dish and sprinkled about a tablespoon of coarse brown sugar on top to give the oatmeal a caramelized effect and then I baked the oatmeal for about 35 minutes, until the edges were lightly browned and the center was set.
After allowing the oatmeal to cool for about ten minutes, I sliced up a nice square, topped it with some milk, fresh banana slices and a drizzle of maple syrup. It was delicious.
You can enjoy this oatmeal straight out of the oven or heat it up in the microwave or oven for a few minutes. I usually pop it in the microwave for about 1 minutes to start the heating process and then put it in the oven to get nicely browned and slightly crunchy on top. Or you can enjoy it cold, straight out of the fridge. Or even pop it into a lunchbox and eat it a room temperature later on. It will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.