This is my best breakfast recipe yet. It’s ridiculously delicious, hearty and filling for hours, has no added sugar (or sweeteners), and is made entirely of basic, inexpensive ingredients that are easy to have on hand.
I’ve long liked oatmeal for breakfast because it’s healthy and relatively easy. But despite the purported ability of oatmeal to keep one feeling full for a long time, I’ve always found that I’m really hungry a short time after eating it. My health situation makes this happen for a lot of foods and I know the key is to add more protein, but I’ve been struggling with ways to do that with oatmeal that aren’t so unhealthy as to render the entire dish pointless if the goal is to find a healthy breakfast.
But since being in the UK I’ve learned how to make custard, and it dawned on me that I could add some egg to the oatmeal and if I whisked it quickly enough in a hot milk base, it’d become custard. Further, if I used only super-ripe bananas for sweetening, I wouldn’t need to add any sugar. I find it really frustrating when I Google around for sugar-free recipes only to find recipes full of artificial sweeteners (which I’m not necessarily against and do use from time to time, but I don’t always want them because of the aftertaste or because I just don’t want something too sweet) or other substitutes that aren’t really bringing down the sugar load overall.
When we were recently on holiday in a National Trust cottage on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, I happened to have a large bag of bananas I’d brought for my toddler’s breakfasts (her daily oatmeal is whole milk and porridge oats/quick oats microwaved and then cooled with a bit more milk and a banana mashed into it, that’s it) that were getting really ripe really fast. I also didn’t have my usual pile of ingredients for making other common breakfasts like my healthy oat pancakes. But along with the bananas I had the porridge oats, milk, walnuts, and eggs, so I decided to throw caution to the fresh sea wind and give an oatmeal custard a go.
From the first bite of my first trial recipe, I knew I was onto something. Better yet, it was indeed filling for longer than standard oatmeal, so I could easily spend the day hiking trails along the coast with my family without looking for the next snack or meal the whole time.
The cottage kitchen didn’t have a nonstick pot, so I thought I should probably add a bit of fat to lube the stainless one. Since coming home and using my nonstick, I’ve decided a bit of fat is always in order just to make sure the bananas cook nicely without burning. But you don’t need much. I didn’t have butter at the holiday cottage, only margarine, so I used a small dollop of that there. At home now I use a spritz of sunflower oil. A small knob of butter would also work.
I cut up two super-ripe bananas into the pot with that bit of fat in the bottom and let them cook on medium-low heat until the slices were broken down. While it was cooking, I put one egg aside in a bowl. This is important, because when you’re making a custard you need to be able to get the egg into the liquid mixture fast before it starts to cook, and if you have to fuss with the eggshell you’ll wreck your custard.
Once the bananas were turning into a paste in the pot, I added some semi-skimmed milk, about a cup. I didn’t measure. I know that I generally like about 1/3 cup of oatmeal which requires about 2/3 cup of milk, but I wanted extra milk in the pot to turn this banana into a creamy sauce. So I added about a cup. You can measure it out if you want to but once you’ve made this recipe a few times – and you will once you’ve tasted it! – you’ll get a good feel for the right amount relative to the size of the bananas and your appetite that day.
Then I added some porridge oats. If I’d been in the US, I’d have used quick oats, but not instant. You could probably use regular rolled oats too and add a bit extra liquid and/or cook them a bit longer. It really depends on your preferences in terms of oat type, relative chewiness versus softness, etc.
I mixed the oats in and let them cook, still on medium-low heat, until they looked softened to my preference level, which only took a minute or two.
Then I added the egg right into the middle of the pot and immediately stirred it vigorously into the whole mixture with a wire whisk. Back at home I don’t want to use a wire whisk in my nonstick pot, of course, so I use a silicone spatula. Either works, so go with what you’ve got. The point is to mix that egg into the whole mixture as quickly as you can before any part of it starts to set up. This fast combination is what makes it a custard as opposed to chunks of egg in your oatmeal (which is still edible, just not as creamy and delicious).
I kept cooking it until the whole mass started to get that cooked-egg-jiggle when poked with the whisk/spatula. That’s how I knew the egg was fully cooked. It takes a minute or two and you don’t want to overdo it, but if you’re worried about undercooked egg you can always turn off the heat and let it sit for an extra minute just to be sure.
I served it with some walnuts sprinkled on top, but you could put berries, other nuts, or whatever you like on there. You could add your favourite spices, dried fruits, or whatever makes you happy at breakfast time.
Of course since I was in a picturesque holiday cottage, I had to pose my oatmeal for some beauty shots before I could eat it.
Aw, that’s so pretty. You could almost pretend that the rest of the kitchen was tidy and that there weren’t overexcited children smashing their own breakfasts into their faces in the next room.
Almost…until I show you what the rest of this window sill actually looked like (and this was after I tidied it for photos):
Anyway, if you’re a busy parent like me and you want to eat something really tasty for breakfast that’s quick and easy to prepare with ingredients you can afford that won’t spike your blood sugar, give this a go. It’s hands-down the best oatmeal I’ve ever had, and ever since I discovered it I am constantly waiting for more bananas to get super-ripe (and not be consumed by the children first) so I can have it again and again.
Here’s the recipe with approximated measurements, but tailor it to your needs and preferences.
- small knob of butter or margarine, or spritz of sunflower or canola oil
- 2 very ripe bananas
- 1 cup milk
- ⅓ cup porridge oats or quick oats
- 1 egg
- Optional: nuts, berries, or toppings of choice
- Put the butter or margarine in the bottom of a pot, or spritz the pot with oil. Crack the egg into a bowl and set aside.
- Cut the bananas into the pot and heat on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until they are all breaking apart and turning into a pasty sauce.
- Add milk and combine. Bring to a low boil until thickened slightly.
- Add oats and stir thoroughly. Continue to cook until oats are softened.
- Add the egg and stir immediately and thoroughly to make the custard. Keep stirring for one or two minutes until the custard has set. The whole recipe will take on a slightly jiggly quality when the egg is cooked.
- Serve hot with whatever toppings are desired.