Breakfast grain bowls with caramelized bananas. (Goran Kosanovic / For The Washington Post)

Breakfast grain bowls with caramelized bananas. (Goran Kosanovic / For The Washington Post)

Give your dowdy oatmeal the glam treatment

This sumptuous breakfast bowl is what happens when frumpy regular oatmeal gets a modern, stylish makeover.

It doesn’t take much effort, and the before-and-after results are astounding.

First, the foundation: Using chewy, nutty steel-cut oats makes the most of the cereal’s natural flavor assets; cooking them with red quinoa and stirring in a pop of chia seeds adds compelling texture, color and nutrition; and adding milk to the mix makes it luxuriously creamy.

Then the culinary bling: A topping of warm, sweet, cinnamon-scented caramelized bananas and an optional crunch of toasted walnuts immediately lure you to the table. The bananas look and feel ultra-indulgent, but it takes only a dab of butter, a small amount of brown sugar and three minutes in a skillet to make them so.

This glammed-up oatmeal is ideal for weekends when you have a little more time and want something special, but it is doable on weekdays, too, and could be just what you need, especially when it’s cold outside, to coax you out of bed in the morning.

Breakfast grain bowls with caramelized bananas

3 cups water, or more as needed

½ cup steel-cut oats

½ cup red quinoa

1 cup milk of choice (low-fat, whole, almond or coconut), plus more for serving

1 tablespoon chia seeds

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

3 medium firm-ripe bananas

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1½ tablespoons dark brown sugar, plus more for serving

⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup toasted walnut pieces, optional

Bring the 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Stir in the oats; reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in the quinoa and continue to cook for 10 minutes more. Add the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes. Stir in the chia seeds and vanilla, then remove the pot from the heat, cover it and let it sit while you prepare the bananas. The cereal will thicken.

Peel the bananas and cut them diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Heat the butter in a large nonstick pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bananas to the skillet and cook, turning once, until browned, about 1 minute per side. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and the cinnamon and cook, stirring gently, until the sugar melts, about 1 minute. Add a tablespoon or two of water if the pan seems dry.

Spoon the grain mixture into serving bowls; top with the bananas and the walnuts, if using. Drizzle with additional milk and/or sprinkle with additional sugar, if desired. Makes four servings.

Nutrition per serving (using low-fat milk): 320 calories, 10 grams protein, 56 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 15 milligrams cholesterol, 40 milligrams sodium, 7 grams dietary fiber, 19 grams sugar.

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