Foodie fantasies: ‘Oat’ we give it a try?

A bowl of baked oats decorated with chocolate chips and peanut butter with apple slices on the side
(Betsy Ding • The Student Life)

Over the past year, food fads have been cyclically appearing on TikTok. As domestic tasks have become the most dramatic part of the typical, quarantined day, aesthetically pleasing and sometimes intricate recipes have swept across the internet.

First it was whipped coffee, then baked feta pasta and now, TikTok’s foodies have made baked oats the new quarantine fad. Though I am well-aware that popularity on TikTok is by no means an indicator of how good something will taste, I decided that this trend might be fun to try as a twist on traditional oatmeal.

During midterms, I’ve been reminiscing to about a year ago when I’d head to Malott for my meals in between cramming sessions. I could choose to have eggs cooked any way I liked or fill up a bowl of oatmeal with any toppings I wanted. Now, I have no time to put together the food and snacks that kept me going through study nights; all I can do is dream about the dining halls I once took for granted. 

Given the circumstances, I decided that making baked oats would give me the perfect opportunity to clear my pantry without spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

I made both sweet and savory baked oats, using recipes by TikTok user @yourasiandessertqueen. Her recipes have never led me astray and she happens to be a 5C student, Betsy Ding PO ’24 — a much appreciated bonus.

First, I gave the savory breakfast baked oats a try.

@yourasiandessertqueenwho else is a hoe for eggs🤌 #bakedoats #eggs #healthyeating #recipes #healthymealrecipes #breakfast #health #college

♬ Coffee Music – Cafe Music BGM channel

Breakfast baked oats consists of oats, an egg, milk and spices mixed in a bowl and baked for about thirty minutes, after which it is topped with vegetables and eggs. Initially, I was skeptical. The idea of mixing eggs and oats was not sitting well with me. But before it even came out of the oven, my attitude towards the dish had softened considerably. 

I was done making the oats in seven minutes flat, three of which were spent shredding carrots thanks to my grocery store’s inconsistency in keeping the pre-shredded vegetables stocked.  Also, I only had to use one bowl, which is huge for me because, let’s be honest — who likes washing dishes? When it did come out of the oven, I was pleasantly surprised at how beautifully it had baked. I added some avocado and egg to the top, and it was ready.

I can’t say I really followed the recipe — the South Asian in me insisted that I add paprika, garlic powder and extra salt. With the changes, I would rate these breakfast baked oats a 9/10. The coarse texture of the oats complimented the fried egg and avocado on top — an outcome I certainly did not expect. I don’t think I had ever made savory oats, so this was a pleasant change from the status quo. 

The concoction needs more flavor to make it a 10; perhaps more salt and garlic powder would do the trick. However, they are aesthetically pleasing and I impressed my family with my culinary skills — and they are not generous with compliments. So yes, I would make this dish again. 

Since my experience with savory baked oats had gone relatively well, I decided to try my hand at some sweet baked oats

@yourasiandessertqueenmy petition to join oat tiktok! #bakedoats #chocolate #easyrecipes #dessertforbreakfast #peanutbutter #healthy #eating #food♬ Campfire – Charmer & Klay

The first recipe I used was for chocolate peanut butter brownie oats — hypothetically speaking, it should be heaven in a bowl, but a conglomeration of good things does not always result in another good thing.

Like the breakfast baked oats, the mix was easy to make. It took about five minutes to put together and then 25 minutes to bake in a glass bowl, but in hindsight I would have only baked it for around 22 minutes for a gooier consistency. 

Because of the word “brownie” in the title, I assumed it would taste like my favorite chocolatey dessert. As it turns out, brownie oats do not look very much like brownies, nor do they taste like them. They were yummy, though, and I think that if I had simply expected chocolatey baked oats instead of brownies, I would have judged them differently. 

Therefore, from a brownie point-of-view, I would give them a 4/10, simply because the taste of the oats was overpowering, which I suppose I should have expected given how much experience with oats this quarantine has given me. However, from an oats point-of-view, I would give them an 8/10. 

Overall, baked oats have a fun crunch and are deliciously reminiscent of oatmeal without the monotony of an everyday breakfast item, but are definitely not something I could eat all day, every day. Their main perk is their versatility and variety.

Not only are there countless types of baked oats, but sugar can easily be replaced with any other sweetener to reduce calories, any plant-based milk can be used to account for lactose intolerance and the little bit of flour included in the recipe could easily be replaced with ground oats to make it completely gluten-free — all without changing the recipe’s consistency. 

My verdict? Everyone “oat” to give them a try. 

Maryam Khan SC ’23 is one of TSL’s food columnists. She is a writing and rhetoric major who enjoys reading, writing and all kinds of food.

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