This cozy breakfast will warm you right up for the holidays filled with plant-based protein, fiber, and seasonal flavors. Start your holiday festivities with a satisfying bowl of this dairy-free, gluten-free Gingerbread Banana Oatmeal!
I’m not always an oatmeal-for-breakfast kind of gal, but when I am it’s when I want something warm and cozy on a cool winter morning. Those chilly mornings lead me to crave fall and winter flavors like pumpkin, apple, and gingerbread spice. There is plenty of the pumpkin spice and everything nice vibe going around, but what about gingerbread? Gingerbread deserves some recognition this time of year. This is exactly what led me to whip up this super simple Gingerbread Banana Oatmeal!
Oatmeal can be a great way to start the day with a satisfying plant-based breakfast. Oats are rich in soluble fiber which is the type of fiber that dissolves in water. Soluble fiber is known to help reduce cholesterol levels, stabilize blood sugar, and improve gut and immune health. Oatmeal also contains some plant-based protein. Rolled oats have about 5 grams of protein while steel cut oats have about 5-7 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving. For most adults, oats alone would not make for an adequate protein serving, but it’s a great place to start.
The fun thing about oatmeal is that it serves as a great foundation to creativity and flavor diversity. Oatmeal alone may seem bland and boring, but there is so much you can do with them! Change the fruits and seasonings based on the season like I did with this Gingerbread Banana Oatmeal. Change the type of milk and mix-ins based on your flavor preference, mood and food cravings.
Great oatmeal mix-ins to add variety:
- Type of non-dairy milk: soy, cashew, hemp, almond, oat, pea, etc.
- Flavor of milk: unsweetened, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry
- Seeds: chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flax seeds, pepitas, roasted sunflower seeds
- Nuts: walnuts, pecans, slivered almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, etc.
- Nut or seed butters: peanut, almond, cashew, mixed nuts, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed
- Fruits: apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, bananas, persimmons, berries, cherries, etc.
- Vegetables: pureed pumpkin, pureed sweet potato, shredded carrot, shredded zucchini
- Pizazz: fresh or dried seasonings and herbs, cocoa powder, plant-based protein powder, honey, maple syrup, molasses, dark chocolate chips, carob chips, granola, crumbled cookies, coconut flakes, sprinkles (because why not?)
What is Gingerbread?
Gingerbread itself has a long history of making an appearance in the winter and around the holiday season. You can find a variety of gingerbread recipes that differ slightly across cultures and global regions. Some gingerbread is light, others are dark. Some recipes are sweetened with maple syrup while others are sweetened with different types of molasses. There are a variety of spice levels and ratios amongst traditional recipes as well. Generally, the gingerbread flavor comes from a combination of sweetener and blend of ground spices including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. The most common sweetener is molasses which gives gingerbread dishes their dark brown, caramelized color.
What is Blackstrap Molasses?
Molasses is a very dark brown, thick syrup used as a sweetener in cooking and baking. It’s made during the processing of sugar cane. Brown sugar actually gets its color and slight stickiness from molasses (say what?). Molasses goes through one or several steps of boiling during its processing which gives it a very thick consistency. It is known to have an acidic and bitter taste to it, but is very rich in minerals. The further this molasses is boiled, the thicker and denser its consistency gets giving the syrup a slightly salty and more bitter taste. That’s blackstrap molasses, folks!
Blackstrap molasses has a lower sugar content than “regular” molasses, but it is more concentrated in the minerals iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium. If you are a plant-based eater or have any of these nutrient deficiencies, blackstrap molasses is an excellent pantry staple. These are all key nutrients to be in tune with if you eat mostly plants. With blackstrap molasses being highly concentrated in micronutrients per serving, this can be a great source to incorporate into your plant-based menu. But, it’s not exactly the best sweetener. If using it to sweeten a recipe but you still want the nutrition, I recommend adding another sweetener along with it. Try adding half blackstrap molasses and half maple syrup. Or stir in a very ripe banana for some fiber-rich sweetness like I’ve done in this recipe.
How to add blackstrap molasses to meals:
- Stir into oatmeal or porridge
- Add to smoothies
- Drizzle over non-dairy ice cream
- Use in a marinade or glaze for tofu, tempeh, or roasted vegetables
- Add to baked goods like muffins, cookies, brownies, and cakes
- Use to make homemade BBQ sauce
- Incorporate into baked fruit crisps like this Microwavable Vegan Apple Crisp
- Use on French toast or in these Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pancakes
- Sweeten baked beans
Kitchen Tips for Making Oatmeal
Do you ever wake up hungry and just want to jump right into breakfast without having to think? Same. Here’s a quick tip for cooking oatmeal without a recipe:
As a general rule of thumb, use 1 portion of rolled oats to 2 portions of cooking liquid.
Rolled oats will gelatinize (a.k.a. gel up by absorbing liquid), which is why there should always be more liquid than there is oats when cooking. In addition, the added chia seeds love to absorb liquid. You may want to add more milk to your oatmeal and chia seeds if you prefer a thinner consistency. The way I’ve written the recipe below will yield a rather thick oatmeal.
First, start with the oats, chia seeds, and all the spices in your sauce pan over medium-low heat. This allows the oats to toast bringing out a nutty flavor and aroma. Toasting dried spices also enhances their flavor (and will fill your kitchen with yumminess with no need for a candle!). Be sure to use a large enough sauce pan that gives plenty of surface area for the oats and spices to be in direct contact with the heat. Toasting should only take about 1-2 minutes for this recipe’s quantity. You may need additional time if doubling the recipe.
Heating up milk, even non-dairy milk, has a tendency to scorch, or burn, the milk. To prevent this, use a medium-low heat to bring the milk to a low simmer. As soon as you start to see little milk bubbles on the outer edge of the pan, reduce the heat to low and continue to stir. This will help prevent the milk from having a slimy film appearance on the top surface.
Fill Up on Satisfaction
As always, cook this dish with your own intuition. My recipes are meant to give you a starting point, but your flavor preferences, creativity, and food cravings are what make these recipes your own. Not a fan of molasses? Use maple syrup or brown sugar. Too much gingerbread spice? Make your own spice combination. You do you. Just have fun and enjoy the cooking process. If you feel stressed out when cooking or are at a loss for what to cook, let’s chat! I’ve helped many clients find their confidence in the kitchen and learn to love food again.
If you enjoyed this Gingerbread Banana Oatmeal, give a rating and leave a comment below! For more intuitive cooking tips and plant-based recipes, check out my main blog page here and visit me on Instagram @chefshannonnutrition.
Gingerbread Banana Oatmeal
- Medium sauce pot
- Stove top
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Stirring utensil
- 1 cup rolled oats (certified gluten-free, as needed)
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp cloves
- 2 cups unsweetened soy milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
- 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 medium ripe banana, sliced
- roasted walnut pieces
- roasted pecans
- additional sliced banana
- crumbled graham crackers (gluten-free, as needed)
- drizzle of almond butter (or nut butter of choice)
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
- Bring a medium-sized sauce pan (pot) to medium-low heat. Add rolled oats, chia seeds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir to combine. Let oats and seasonings toast for about 30-60 seconds.
- Add soy milk and slowly stir to incorporate. Allow milk to come to a low simmer, then reduce heat to low. Let cook for 2-3 minutes until liquid has thickened and oats slightly enlarge. If a thinner consistency is desired, add more soy milk. If thicker consistency is preferred, continue to cook 2-3 more minutes.
- Stir in blackstrap molasses, maple syrup (optional), and vanilla extract (optional). Taste test and adjust sweeteners as desired.
- Remove sauce pan from heat and stir in sliced bananas allowing them to warm up with the oatmeal.
- Transfer to serving bowls and add optional toppings as desired.
- Allow leftovers to completely cool before serving in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5-6 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.