Contributed by:  Lisa Luft

We all know that nutrition is vital to achieving our fitness goals. We have to fuel our bodies properly for optimum performance. But it is one thing to know it and another to implement it. Everyone has a different opinion on how to best do that – paleo, macros, zone, etc. One thing that we can pretty much agree on is avoiding processed foods whenever possible. For me, breakfast seems to be the toughest area for that. Since I work out in the wee hours of the morning (yes, I am a crazy 5:30 am person), I have to have something that is grab and go and that can be made in advance. Having to make breakfast each morning isn’t an option for me. Finding recipes that also include a decent amount of protein is a struggle. If I don’t have something ready for the week, I make poor choices. ☹ So here is one that I have found works well for me – Baked Banana Protein Oatmeal. Since it includes oats it will not fit strict paleo, but they are at least gluten free. One of the reasons I like this recipe is that it feels like I’m eating a baked good like banana bread or a muffin except healthier. There is something satisfying about that for me. The recipe is from Southern In Law, an Australian healthy living, travel and lifestyle blog. The recipe lists the option of adding chocolate chips/nuts/spices of your choice. So you can customize it to your tastes, but the macro breakdown I included at the bottom is for the original recipe with some additional cinnamon and nutmeg.

Tip: I always double this recipe and make it in a 9×13 pan. I cut it into 12 pieces. I freeze 6 for later. I refrigerate the other 6 pieces to use that week. Refigerated, I have had these stay good for more than a week. On rest days, I will make eggs with spinach and feta to keep my carbs down and because I have time to make something fresh.

Variation: For you pumpkin lovers out there, I suspect you could substitute canned pumpkin for the mashed banana. Since it is a little more watery than the banana, I would recommend reducing the amount to ¾ cup. I would also suggest a little maple syrup to make up for the difference between the sweetness of banana and the pumpkin. But beware! Try this at your own risk. I have never attempted this variation.

Lastly, don’t laugh too much at my ridiculous picture. (That uneven corner is making even my mild OCD nuts!) I’m new at this. I hope to improve with time, but I remembered to take this picture at the last minute before I packaged it up. If you are like me and eat at work and have access to a fridge where people don’t steal each others food, I recommend bringing a weeks worth so you don’t even need to pack each morning.

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Baked Banana Protein Oatmeal – 6 servings
1 C gluten free rolled oats or gluten free quick oats
½ C protein powder (I used Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Vanilla Ice Cream)
1 tsp baking powder
2 medium bananas, mashed (about a cup mashed)
1 T vanilla extract
½ c egg whites (about 4 large eggs)
1 C milk of your choice (I used unsweetened almond)
Optional: chocolate chips, nuts/ spices of your choice (I used 1 t cinnamon and ½ t nutmeg)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 F Grease and/or line a 8” square or round pan and set aside Mash your banana in a medium mixing bowl and add in all of your other ingredients, mixing until combined. Pour your oatmeal mix into your baking dish and bake for 20-35 minutes, or until cooked through. Once baked, allow to cool slightly before cutting and serving. (I actually like mine cold.)

Macros: 25 g Protein, 2 g Fat, 23 g Carb, 213 c/serving