Oatmeal is one of the most versatile foods (and one of my personal favorites). With only one serving of oats, you can receive 5 or 6 grams of protein, not including toppings. When I first started eating oatmeal, I thought it was bland and didn’t enjoy the texture. But I realized if you prepare it the right way, it can be filled with flavor — sweet or savory.
If you stick to the basic toppings of dried cranberries and brown sugar, it can become a bit boring, not to mention that adding sugar is not the healthiest option. By testing out different granolas, fruits, nut butters and milks, I have found several better oatmeal combinations. Each one can give you enough energy to power through those long morning classes.
Instead of buying pre-packaged oatmeal with additives, opt for buying a large container of quick oats (rolled or steel-cut are both great options). When you have that extra time in the morning, you can prepare your oats over the stove, which only takes about five minutes. Combine ½ cup of oats with ½ cup of liquid (water or milk) and heat on medium-high heat until the liquid is absorbed and the oats are thickened.
However, if you are in a time crunch, overnight oats will be your best option. The overnight oatmeal craze has been growing ever since Instagram photos and blogs have been flooded with recipes within the past few years. Lucky for you, they’re the tastiest, with a creamy texture immediately ready to eat in the morning. They are also a great option in the summer when the temperatures are hotter and a bowl of warm oatmeal sounds unappealing.
By adding one serving of oats to a 1/2 cup of milk (I prefer almond) in a glass or bowl overnight, you can wake up in the morning with creamy and thick “cooked” oats. Technically, the oats do not cook but rather soak up the milk overnight.
A popular overnight oatmeal combination is mixing 2 tablespoons of chia seeds (a great boost of energy and fiber) into the oatmeal and milk mixture followed by strawberries, blueberries and banana slices. By the time these energy-boosting seeds soak for a few hours, they swell up and make the oatmeal much thicker and extremely filling.
When making oatmeal over the stove, top your bowl with almond milk, almond butter, berries and any type of granola you might have on hand. If making it overnight, layering the oats and fruit like a parfait is a creative route to take.
A fantastic granola is a brand called Purely Elizabeth (a company based in Colorado that doesn’t use ingredients containing gluten or refined sugar), which is sold at Target for $6 for a 12-oz. bag. Other great granola companies include KIND Snacks’ Healthy Grains Clusters ($4.99) and LaraBar’s Renola ($2.19/pouch). Having both creamy and crunchy elements in your oatmeal is extremely important to get the most satisfaction out of your breakfast.
Instead of always throwing sweet options onto oats, remember that savory options can be possible as well. Go ahead and fry an egg, add a little cheese and mix it all up. Stick your oatmeal in the oven and bake it. Sauté some apples with cinnamon and sprinkle mixed nuts on top for a simple taste.
With numerous flavor options to add to your mornings, why would anyone want to skip breakfast? Anything is possible with a bowl of oatmeal and a few minutes.