Though it may not sound like the most glamorous food choice, there’s something timeless and just plain satisfying about a good old peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’m pretty sure I’ll never outgrow them. (Anyone else with me?) But for those who may not love the mixture between two slices of bread, the sweet and salty combination can add something special to smoothies and muffins and will most definitely perk up your morning bowl of oatmeal.
This filling breakfast essentially combines two easy, healthy recipes (with make-ahead options) plus peanut butter in one bowl. What’s not to love? Toasting the oats provides extra nutty flavor and can be done in advance. Simply cool the oats and store in an airtight container. (Perfect for use in my favorite granola and oatmeal raisin cookies, too!) That said, you can absolutely prepare the oatmeal portion of this meal as you usually do, or substitute your favorite bowl of steel cut oats. Using less liquid, however, is what allows the rolled oats to maintain their structure and often appeals to those who object to oatmeal’s characteristic mushiness.
Of course, you can absolutely use these recipes independently. For instance, the healthy jam can be stirred into yogurt; or make the thicker version for use on toast and in the classic PB&J. The toasty oatmeal can be topped with fresh berries, chopped nuts, a drizzle of maple syrup, warm milk…basically any old way you like!
Yield: 4 servings
- For the Strawberry Chia Jam: (yields about 10 ounces or 1 1/4 cups—cool and refrigerate any leftovers)
- 1 bag (12 ounces) frozen strawberries or other berries*
- 2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons honey, maple syrup or agave nectar (or to taste)
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 4 tablespoons peanut butter, melted (see notes for powdered PB option**)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1½ cups water
- 2/3 cup milk of choice (I like coconut/almond milk)
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- Sprinkle of ground cinnamon and/or ginger (optional)
- Optional extra toppings: sliced banana, shredded coconut, toasted nuts, an extra drizzle of maple syrup, etc.
For the chia jam: Add the berries to a medium saucepan. (There’s no need to defrost if they’re frozen, although I usually let them sit on the counter for a few minutes so they are just soft enough to roughly chop. This makes the mashing easier when cooking, but it’s not critical.) Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once the berries are warmed throughout and beginning to look saucy (about 5 minutes or so), mash them with a potato masher or dinner fork.
Stir in the sweetener and chia seeds and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring frequently, until the jam has thickened and reduced somewhat, about 5-10 minutes more. The jam will further thicken as it cools. Remove the pan from heat and add more sweetener if you’d like. (To help you gauge, I do think the jam tastes slightly sweeter once it has cooled.)
For the oatmeal: Melt the coconut oil or butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oats and toast, stirring occasionally, until they start smelling fragrant and nutty, about 5-6 minutes. The oats may be toasted, cooled, and stored in an airtight container for approximately one week at room temperature or several weeks in the fridge.
In a medium, heavy bottomed pot, combine the water, milk, salt, and optional spices. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium heat. As soon as the mixture is simmering evenly across the surface, add the oats and stir to incorporate them into the liquid. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the oats sit on the burner, untouched, for 7-9 minutes. After 7 minutes, uncover and check the oats. The liquid should be almost completely absorbed and the oats tender. If you still have some excess liquid, replace the lid and allow the oats to continue to absorb the liquid for a few more minutes.
Portion the oatmeal into bowls and top with a generous helping of the chia jam, melted peanut butter or peanut butter powder syrup**, and any additional toppings of choice. Mix it all together and enjoy!
- *Frozen berries break down easily making them well suited for this jam. They’re also easy to have on hand an often taste better than off-season berries. Fresh berries may be used but will need a little extra mashing with the fork.
- **If you’d like to use powdered peanut butter, reconstitute 4 tablespoons of the powder with 2-3 tablespoons of milk of choice (may substitute water) and a pinch or two of kosher or sea salt. Add just enough liquid to reach a good drizzling consistency. When using regular peanut butter, I heat it in a small bowl in 20 second increments, stirring in between, until it can be easily drizzled.
- And a few more tips:
- Store leftover components separately in the refrigerator, covered. You might want to add a bit of water or milk before reheating the oats.
- To make it gluten-free: Use certified gluten-free oats.
- To make it vegan: Use coconut oil instead of butter and maple syrup or agave nectar instead of honey.