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 (she was too busy helping us with our homework and shuttling us between our afternoon sports practices and music lessons!), 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 two weeks 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 desserts! We weren’t picky about the type. Oatmeal crème pies, cream-filled chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cake rolls with vanilla frosting… We slowly savored every 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 enjoying those as a special treat after returning home from school. But I’m sure this healthy gingerbread oatmeal snack cake would’ve been an even better option — and tastier too!
It’s bursting with festive and cozy holiday flavor, and it’s also just as moist as the ones I remember from back then. Since my brother and I have always been huge gingerbread fans, I bet we even would’ve picked this wholesome snack cake over the store-bought ones as kids too!
HOW TO MAKE A GINGERBREAD OATMEAL SNACK CAKE
Let’s talk about how make this healthy gingerbread snack cake! You’ll start with whole wheat flour and instant oats (like these). Instant oats only contain one ingredient: oats! They’re smaller and thinner than traditional rolled oats, which means they soften faster, so they give this snack cake a supremely moist and tender texture. They’re also called “quick-cooking” or “one-minute” oats, and you can find them right next to the old-fashioned rolled oats at the grocery store.
Tip: If you’d like to make your healthy gingerbread oatmeal snack cake gluten-free, use certified gluten-free instant oats. Then check the Notes section of the recipe for my top gluten-free flour recommendations!
To really boost the supremely tender texture, you’ll also mix 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! Greek yogurt 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!
Instead of refined sugar, you’ll sweeten your snack cake with pure maple syrup (like this!) and molasses (like this!). 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. Yum! Molasses is shelf-stable and inexpensive, and you can typically find it on the baking aisle near the honey.
Tip: Don’t substitute blackstrap molasses! It’s really bitter and can ruin the flavor. For the best gingerbread snack cake, use regular unsulphured molasses, which is noticeably sweeter. (This is the kind I like!)
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 variety!), 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!)
The hardest part of making this cake? Waiting for it to cool! With its cozy aroma wafting throughout your house, it feels nearly impossible to wait for it to reach room temperature… Trust me — I just might know from personal experience! But as tempting as it may be, please promise me that you’ll wait. The cake’s structure hasn’t fully set until it’s completely cool, so you’ll ruin that if you try cutting into it early.
Tip: Once the pan is cool enough to touch with bare hands, you can pop it in the fridge to speed up the cooling process!
Snack time just might be my new favorite time of day! Or maybe breakfast… Since this oatmeal 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 (see Notes!)
- 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 Gingerbread Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
♡ Healthy Morning Glory Gingerbread
♡ Healthy Gingerbread with Maple Glaze
♡ Healthy Gingerbread Donuts with Maple Glaze
♡ Healthy Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Scones
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy gingerbread-flavored recipes and healthy oatmeal snack cake recipes!