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Baked Oatmeal with Tart Cherries

Published by Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD on Feb 2, 2022

Baked Oatmeal is a hearty and healthy start to your day and a great way to feed a crowd

 

Here’s an incredibly easy way to make baked oatmeal loaded with luscious, tart cherries. Add in some sweet brown sugar and freshly squeezed orange juice plus zest, for an extra touch of mouth-watering flavor. Yes, this baked oatmeal is special.  I compare it somewhat to bread pudding, complete with a similar texture of one delicious bite after another.

Make it as a weekday grab-and-go breakfast or better yet, for a weekend brunch.  When paired with fluffy scrambled eggs made with veggies, it’s hard to go wrong with this recipe.

Let’s start by diving into the health aspects of what it has to offer.

All about oatmeal

As a whole grain, oatmeal is one of the best. This nutrient-rich food provides important antioxidants helping lower inflammation.  Oatmeal also contains polyphenols, a type of plant compound,  linked to help protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

Oatmeal is one of the best whole grains you can choose from. Because oatmeal is an unrefined, whole grain meaning it contains all three components of a grain kernel – the bran, germ, and endosperm with each section housing health-promoting nutrients.

Oatmeal also contains fiber, a nutrient many of us are lacking. Fiber is important for creating satiety, a feeling of fullness that persists after eating and for preventing constipation.  Just a half-cup of oatmeal provides about 14% of the daily value for fiber which is 25-30 grams each day.  Oatmeal contains a unique kind of fiber called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is a type of fiber shown to support healthy immune function. It may also reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels, both important for lowering risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Antioxidants found in beta-glucan may help improve digestive functioning. It does this by preventing inflammation in the gut and by acting as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are special plant fibers that help healthy bacteria grow in your gut making your digestive system work better.

What’s special about tart cherries?

For this recipe, the type of fruit you choose is really up to you. I could have chosen cranberries, blueberries, or even raspberries.  But I wanted tart cherries to be the star of this show.

I admit…I love tart cherries. Why? Tart cherries are absolutely delicious and so good for you.

However, the fresh cherries grocery stores almost always sell are sweet cherries, not tart. The best-known varieties of sweet cherries sold in the U.S. are Bing, which are firm and dark, and Rainier, which have a thin, yellow-red skin and mild yellow flesh.

Montmorency is the variety of tart cherries that is most commonly grown in the U.S. and Canada. But tart cherries are not eaten fresh. Once harvested, they are distributed and processed into many delicious forms, one of which is frozen.  And it is frozen tart cherries I used for this recipe.

Tart cherries, like oatmeal, have numerous health benefits. Research has found the powerful antioxidants found in tart cherries are linked to anti-inflammatory properties, heart health, pain relief, and muscle recovery after exercise. In fact, several studies have found that drinking tart cherry juice contains anthocyanins that decrease inflammation and inflammatory-related conditions like arthritis.

When making this recipe, I added the tart cherries still frozen and not unthawed.

Flax seed, grapeseed oil, and whey protein powder

Here are a few unusual additions to this recipe I also wanted to address. One of them is flax seed. I like to add flax seed into various dishes such as smoothies, meatloaf, yogurt and just about any baked good. It’s high fiber and omega-3 fatty acids help lower cholesterol levels without changing the flavor of the food.

Grapeseed oil was the oil I used for this recipe.  I like it’s high levels of vitamin E, an antioxidant protecting cells from damaged by free radicals. This protection may help prevent heart disease and some cancers. Grapeseed oil also has a mild flavor without impacting the taste of a recipe.

Another unusual ingredient for this recipe is unflavored whey protein powder. Whey protein is one of the primary proteins found in dairy products with substantial amounts of essential amino acids necessary for human health.

Athletes and fitness gurus often rely on whey protein powder for helping build muscle, boost physical performance, and address nutritional deficiencies. It’s also handy for meeting daily protein needs, to gain or lose weight, or to recover from an injury or surgery.

Protein powders are quite versatile.  Get creative by adding to foods like pancake or muffin batters, protein balls, smoothies, yogurt, milk, pudding, mashed potatoes, sprinkled on fruit, or even add it to your coffee.

On to the recipe

Now that you know why this combination of oatmeal and tart cherries is such a powerhouse of nutritional health, it’s time make the recipe. Easy to make and so good to eat, baked oatmeal with tart cherries is a winner!

Baked Oatmeal with Tart Cherries

Baked Oatmeal is a hearty and healthy start to your day and a great way to feed a crowd
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 9
Calories 232 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • ¾ cup milk of choice
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 ½ cups rolled, old-fashioned oats
  • ¼ cup golden brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup unflavored whey protein powder
  • 1 12 ounce bag of frozen tart cherries
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Coat a 8 x 8 baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, wisk together milk, eggs, vanilla extract, grapeseed oil, orange juice and zest until combined.
  • Add to the milk mixture, the oats, brown sugar, flax seeds, cinnamon, salt, and protein powder and stir until combined.
  • Fold in the tart cherries and walnuts.
  • Pour mixture into 8 x 8 baking dish distributing evenly.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown on top.
  • Serve warm.

Notes

Nutrition per serving: Calories – 232; Total Fat – 4 grams; Cholesterol – 30 milligrams; Carbohydrates – 39 grams; Protein – 10 grams; Sodium – 70 milligrams
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Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Institutional Management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for Cotton O’Neil Clinics in Topeka and Osage City; an adjunct professor for Allen Community College, Burlingame, KS where she teaches Basic Nutrition; and is a freelance writer and blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi, Urologic Oncologist Expert and World Renowned Robotic Surgeon in New York City. Cheryl is also the author of The Nourished Brain, The Latest Science on Food’s Power for Protecting the Brain from Alzheimers and Dementia and The Prediabetes Action Plan and Cookbook, both available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions.

2 Comments

  1. Kelly Powers on March 21, 2022 at 4:38 am

    Love this recipe! What a great way to incorporate frozen cherries. Mixed berries would probably be deliciosu here too. Thanks for sharing!

    • Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD on March 21, 2022 at 5:20 am

      Hi Kelly!

      So happy you loved the recipe! This recipe is quick and easy to make and hits the spot for satisfying hunger, provides a protein boost, and tastes delicious. I agree that mixed berries would be a perfect substitute for frozen tart cherries. Thank YOU again for your reply – much appreciated!

      Be well, stay well,
      Cheryl

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