Throughout elementary school, my parents tucked a little treat into our lunches every day for my younger brother and me to enjoy. Since Mom rarely baked, we usually found store-bought sweets when we opened our lunch boxes.
With so many options to choose from at the grocery store, we rarely ate the same treats for more than one week in a row. Things like small soft-baked chocolate chip cookies, circus animal cookies, sugar wafers, elf-shaped cookies with fudge filling…
But our favorites were always Little Debbie sweets! We weren’t picky with the type. Oatmeal crème pies, cream-filled chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cake rolls with vanilla frosting… We slowly savored every single crumb of those treats!
During December, Mom often snagged some of the holiday-themed sweets, like Little Debbie’s small cakes cut into the shape of Christmas trees and decorated with festive red and green sprinkles. If we behaved really well, she even let us each eat one as our after school snack!
When I spotted a prominent display of those tree-shaped cakes at the grocery store last week, I smiled at the childhood memories of eating those as a special treat after returning home from school. But I’m sure this Healthy Gingerbread Oatmeal Snack Cake would’ve been a much better — and even tastier — option!
It’s bursting with festive and cozy holiday flavor, but it contains no artificial ingredients, refined flour or sugar like those store-bought cakes… And each slice is barely 100 calories!
And since my brother and I have always been huge gingerbread fans, I bet we even would’ve picked this healthier snack cake over those store-bought ones as kids too!
HOW TO MAKE A GINGERBREAD OATMEAL SNACK CAKE
To make this healthy gingerbread snack cake, you’ll start with whole wheat flour (or gluten-free – see the Notes section of the recipe for my recommendations!) and instant oats (like these… or these for a gluten-free option!). Instant oats are smaller and thinner than traditional rolled oats, which means they soften faster, so they give this cake a supremely tender texture. They’re also called “quick-cooking” or “one-minute” oats, and you can find them right next to the old-fashioned oats at the grocery store.
To really boost the supremely tender texture, you’ll also mix lots of Greek yogurt into your cake batter! I bet you already knew I was going to say that, right?… It’s one of my favorite ingredients for a reason! It adds the same moisture as extra butter or oil but for a fraction of the calories, and it gives your gingerbread snack cake a protein boost, too!
You’ll skip the refined sugar and sweeten your snack cake with pure maple syrup (like this!) and molasses (like this!) instead. I do not recommend substituting anything for the molasses! It’s a key ingredient in all gingerbread-flavored treats and provides that deep, rich, cozy, warms-you-from-your-nose-to-the-tips-of-your-toes flavor. Molasses is shelf-stable and inexpensive, and you can typically find it on the baking aisle near the honey. (This is the kind I use!)
Of course, we can’t forget the most important ingredients… The spices! You’ll sprinkle in ginger (pretty obvious!), cinnamon (← I’m obsessed with that type!), nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Yes, I know that’s a lot of spices! Although it might be tempting to use store-bought gingerbread spice, I find those blends often have a flatter, duller flavor compared to when I make my own with the individual spices. (And you’ll use those spices in most of these recipes of mine, too!)
Snack time just might be my new favorite time of day! Or maybe breakfast… Since this snack cake is definitely healthy enough for that too! 😉
And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy gingerbread oatmeal snack cake!
Healthy Gingerbread Oatmeal Snack Cake
- 1 ½ cups (150g) instant oats (measured like this and gluten free, if necessary)
- 1 ¼ cups (150g) whole wheat or gluten free* flour (measured like this)
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp (10g) ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp (14g) coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (180g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup (60mL) molasses (not blackstrap!)
- 2 tbsp (30mL) pure maple syrup
- ½ cup (120mL) nonfat milk
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and coat a 9”-square pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, egg whites, and vanilla. Add in Greek yogurt, stirring until no large lumps of yogurt remain. Stir in the molasses and maple syrup. Alternate between adding the oat mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the oat mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the oat mixture in 3 equal parts.)
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350°F for 22-26 minutes or until the center feels firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely to room temperature in the pan before slicing and serving.
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Healthy Pumpkin Oatmeal Snack Cake
♡ Healthy Banana Oatmeal Snack Cake
♡ Healthy Morning Glory Gingerbread
♡ Healthy Chocolate Chip Gingerbread
♡ Healthy Gingerbread with Maple Glaze
♡ Healthy Gingerbread Donuts with Maple Glaze
♡ Healthy Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Scones