5 Ways to Spruce Up Your Bowl
When it comes to nutritious foods, oatmeal stacks up with the best of them as a whole grain that contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, and nutrients. When eaten for breakfast, it can help kick-start your day with the good carbs needed to stay energized. But for all the great health benefits of oatmeal, it can be boring and bland if it’s not prepared the right way. Next time you reach for your container of oats, give these add-ins a try to liven up this traditional breakfast staple.
Know Your Oats
It’s best to buy oats in their most natural form to avoid sugary additives or preservatives. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular store-bought types.
These are toasted oat groats (oat grains) that have been chopped into sesame seed-sized pieces.
Stone-Ground (Scottish) Oats
These are similar to steel-cut oats, but are ground into smaller pieces about the size of poppy seeds.
These are made by steaming the toasted groats and then running them between rollers to create flakes.
These oats are heavily processed, with the groats having been chopped fine, flattened, pre-cooked, and dehydrated. Salt and sugar are usually added.
1. Swap out your sweetener.
Instead of sugar, sweeten your oats with all-natural honey or agave nectar. Raw honey can help boost immunity and it’s a good source of energy. Agave nectar has a similar sweet flavor, and as a natural sweetener, it won’t lead to a spike in blood sugar.
2. Make it autumnal.
Mixing in a bit of cinnamon, a few chopped pecans, and some canned pumpkin can transform a bowl of oatmeal into a healthy and deliciously seasonal breakfast (think pumpkin pie!). Added benefit: pumpkin is a superfood rich in vitamin A, fiber, and iron.
3. Add in apples.
Just like making your oatmeal taste like pumpkin pie, you can also tailor it to take on the taste of a warm piece of apple pie. Mix in sliced apples, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a bit of butter. Everyone knows “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and it’s said that nutmeg can relieve stomach aches and aid in sleep.
4. Pack in protein.
It may sound strange, but cracking an egg into your oatmeal while it’s cooking will create a rich and creamy texture without overpowering the flavor. The egg packs in plenty of protein, while the whole-grain oats provide you with fiber to help stave off hunger longer. Add in vanilla extract for an extra touch of sweetness or sea salt and cracked pepper for a more savory dish.
5. Mix in bananas.
For a nutritious, Elvis-themed breakfast, mix in a mashed banana and creamy peanut butter. The banana adds in potassium and fiber, while the peanut butter offers a boost of heart-healthy fats. Top it off with some salty peanuts or berries.