This vegan baked oatmeal recipe layers ripe peaches and berries with flax, hemp, and chia seeds for an easy-peasy healthy summer breakfast, all topped with a creamy maple cashew sauce.
My tenuous rapport with nature seems to mirror that with cats: while I enjoy nothing more than spending quality time in their awesome presence, the feeling isn’t always mutual, and occasionally ends in bodily harm. But while cats tend to make their feelings known right away – a claw here, a fang there – nature often goes about it with more subtly (that is, when it isn’t pummeling your state with natural disasters – see below for how you can help hurricane Harvey victims in Houston*). This feels particularly unfair for a wimp like myself, who eschews dangerous activities like snowboarding, rock-climbing, or driving above the speed limit. My outdoorswomanliness is generally limited to walks in the woods and the occasional glamping trip. And yet I seem to have shoddy luck as far as nature is concerned.
There are mosquito bites which turn to giant welts that last a week. There was the time I got a bad case of poison oak, which kept recurring for a year afterwards. There was the spider bite I got while using an outhouse, which then turned into staph infection from swimming in a pond. There was the time I sat on a yellow jacket and my bottom swelled up like a watermelon for a month.
Nevertheless, I persisted.
Since January, Jay and I have been spending many weekends in the woods as a respite from reality. We headed down to a new-to-us park an hour south of SF the other weekend, and were especially thrilled to see 1) fewer people than heavily-touristed Mount Tam, and 2) huckleberry bushes laden with fruit. We hiked, side-stepping poison oak, hopping over small streams, and crossing a larger creek using two felled trees that had been laid over to form a makeshift bridge. We dallied by a waterfall, communed with a pair of salamanders, and munched berries. Everything was idyllic and peaceful. Then on the way back, I slipped on the creek bank and whiplashed myself into staying upright. Immediately the muscles in my upper back seized and I would be in quite a bit of pain for the next few days.
The following day I woke up barely able to move my head, but I managed to drag myself out of bed at the thought of a yummy breakfast made with huckleberries from our trip. We’d saved a scant half cup in a baggie, and I layered them into a vegan baked oatmeal thickened with seeds, moistened with almond milk, and smothered in peaches. It was so good that Jay and I, between blissful bites, vowed to go back again the following weekend for more huckleberry hijinks.
I don’t believe in curses or fate; surely my self-induced whiplash was a fluke and not related to the place in question. We headed back to the same park, spirits high. But this time, the park was packed with people. We squeezed into a spot in the parking lot and found a trail less traveled, stopping to lunch by a stream and stick our toes in the cool, clear water. We started back toward the huckleberry bushes near the parking lot and when we were just minutes away, I felt a painful prick on my arm. I ripped off my sweatshirt and found a tiny, red puncture mark, like one a bee or yellow jacket would leave. But I hadn’t seen or heard anything. The puncture swelled into a welt and pain began to radiate down my arm. By this time, the ranger station was closed, so we skipped the huckleberries and hightailed it back to the safety of our apartment in the city.
Over the next 48 hours, my entire arm swelled up like a hot, red melon. We concluded that the sting must have come from a particularly stealthy, aggressive yellow jacket, of which we’d seen several. The reaction was similar to the aforementioned sat-upon yellow jacket from 10 or so years prior.
Compared with a huge natural disaster like the one occurring in Texas at the moment, these spills and stings are completely minor. Still, this series of unfortunate events makes me want to spend the rest of the year hiding in the apartment, where the only wild thing is a twelve-pound orange tabby who takes the occasional swipe at my ankles when I walk by. But no. We had reserved a room at a room at a cute B&B for the following weekend with the intention of spending our days hiking around the Sierras. There were no refunds. Fearing the notion that bad things happen in threes, I wanted nothing more than to stay home in the cool SF weather watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and eating popcorn.
But against my better judgement, I went.
This story has a happy ending. I didn’t die in the Sierras, but rather managed a 4-mile hike around Pinecrest lake sans injury (save for a quick slip on a muddy rock that resulted in the tiniest bruise on my palm). We made it back to the city relatively unscathed. And happier still, while nature seems to want to backstab me when I’m least expecting it, Rainbow Grocery Co-op has my back where produce is concerned. We found little containers of fresh huckleberries for sale, which we snapped up to make more vegan baked oatmeal.
Baked oats were largely made famous by Heidi Swanson in her book Super Natural Everyday, and another favorite version is Laura’s, filled with apples, spice, and topped with a drizzle of maple cashew cream. This easy vegan summer version takes inspiration from both, as well as from my favorite super seedy oatmeal recipe and gets thickened by a mess of seeds – hemp, chia, and flax. Almond milk keeps it plant-based, peaches bake into luscious jammy slices, and the dark indigo berries pop and burst in the oven, releasing their woodsy flavor. Most recipes use baking powder and an egg (or egg substitute) but I found that I prefer the flavor and texture without the baking powder, and the whole seeds serve an egg-like function in helping the oats hold together.
Hearty and full of good-for-you things like fresh fruit and fiber, this vegan baked oatmeal recipe is well worth an hour in the woods picking berries, should you be so lucky to find some growing. Or feel free to use frozen wild blueberries or other fresh berries in their place if you don’t wish to brave the elements. I certainly won’t judge.
*If you want to stick it to nature, here are a few places where you can donate to help flood victims (both of the two- and four-legged variety) in Houston, Texas:
- Houston SPCA
- Houston Humane Society
- The Montrose Center’s Hurricane Harvey LGBTQ Disaster Relief Fund
- Hurrican Harvey Relief Fund
- Full list of resources here
*Thanks for reading! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this, I’d love to see! Tag me on Instagram @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) salted vegan butter such as Miyoko’s (or coconut oil)
- 1 cup (100 grams) GF old-fashioned rolled oats, divided use
- 2 pinches salt (or more if using unsalted butter), divided use
- 2 tablespoons (15 g) hemp seeds, divided use
- 2 tablespoons (20 g) flax seeds, divided use
- 2 tablespoons (20 g) chia seed, divided use
- 1 large, firm-ripe peach, pitted and sliced into ¼-inch thick wedges, plus more for serving
- ½ cup (80 g) huckleberries, wild blueberries, or other berries, plus more for serving
- 1¾ cups (415 ml) milk of choice (almond milk and cow’s milk both work) plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) maple syrup, plus more for serving
- ¼ cup (60 ml) cashew butter
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) maple syrup
- pinch salt
- ~4 tablespoons (60 ml) hot water
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375ºF.
- Melt the butter in an 8-inch ovenproof skillet. Swirl to coat the sides, then pour into a small bowl and set aside.
- In the buttery skillet, sprinkle half of the oats over the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon each of the hemp, flax, and chia seeds, and a pinch of salt. Lay half of the peach slices and berries on top. Repeat the layering process: oats, seeds, salt, fruit. In a 2-cup measure or the equivalent, stir together the plant milk and maple syrup to combine. Slowly pour the milk mixture over the oats, and drizzle the melted butter over the top.
- Carefully transfer the skillet to the oven; it will be quite full and liquidy, but don’t worry; the oats absorb a lot of moisture. Bake until puffed and set, 30-40 minutes.
- To make the cashew cream, in a small bowl, stir together the cashew butter, maple syrup, and salt. Gradually work in the hot water, stirring until the sauce is smooth and drizzleable.
- Drizzle the baked oatmeal with the maple cashew cream, then scoop out into bowls and serve warm, topped with extra almond milk, fruit, and cashew cream if you like.
- Extras keep well, refrigerated airtight, for up to 3 days. Reheat before serving.