Now that it’s officially fall, we can definitely feel a chill coming in the air. The best way to beat the cold? Waking up to a steaming hot bowl of delicious oatmeal. Oatmeal is not only one of my favorite breakfast foods but also ridiculously good for you. Oatmeal can lower your blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease in addition to being a great source of vitamin B and complex carbohydrates. Best of all, nothing reminds me more of home than a bowl of perfectly cooked oats. Oatmeal is there when you struggle out of bed after a late night. Oatmeal is there when you slink back to your dorm after a soul-crushing midterm. Oatmeal, steady and familiar, is there whenever you need.
But while the same-old, same-old oatmeal can be a comforting presence, sometimes we need a little spice in our life. Never fear! Oatmeal can be fun too. Here are a few ways that can completely transform your oatmeal game. After this, you’ll never call oatmeal boring again.
What’s better than one homemade classic? Two homemade classics! Bring your peanut butter and jelly sandwich and oatmeal together, by adding a hearty dollop of peanut butter and a tablespoon of jelly on top of your bowl. To make sure your oatmeal is still healthy, look for some jelly that hasn’t been heavily processed — my go-to health indicator: if it has ingredients I can’t pronounce, I won’t eat it. Mash in some bananas during or after cooking for some extra sweetness.
Oatmeal itself is already good for you, but why not up its health factor by adding some super foods? Mix in some chia seeds for omega-3s — and an extra crunch — blueberries for belly-slimming antioxidants and maca powder for the protein you need. Top with a little unprocessed honey, and you’ll be feeling better than ever.
Make your own:
In reality, the perfect oatmeal recipe is just about personal preference — just make sure to skip the unhealthy, overly sweet, store-bought packets, and make your oatmeal at home! Here are a few different ingredients you can mix and match for that perfect breakfast combo:
For the sweetness: Maple syrup, agave nectar, brown sugar, honey or applesauce
For fruit lovers: In reality, you can choose any fruit — or dried fruit! — your heart desires. Fruit can either be used as a topping, or it can be cooked in. Just cut or mash up the fruit of your choice, toss in after the oatmeal’s boiled but before it’s fully cooked, and watch the flavor infuse.
For the crunch factor: nuts — almonds and walnuts are a personal favorite — seeds, granola or cacao nibs
For extra spice: vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, maca powder, cacao powder or ginger
For the explorers: flax seeds, dried fruit, Medjool dates, shredded coconut or Greek yogurt
For the dare devils: shredded or canned pumpkin, shredded carrots or tea — soak bags in the milk of your choice the night before, I’d try chai or green
OK, I know it sounds weird, but stay with me here. Oatmeal doesn’t just have to be something you eat for breakfast; you can eat it for any meal by making it savory. If you’re skeptical, just start with something simple first: Add a little soy sauce, a fried egg, and dig in. If you’re feeling more adventurous you can add some scallions, sesame seeds and kimchi for an Asian twist, bacon and maple syrup for that perfect savory/sweet in between or scrambled eggs, veggies, cheese and ham for an oatmeal omelet. Savory oatmeal is a trend that will soon be taking over the nation, so don’t be afraid to try it! I promise, it’s a choice you won’t regret.
For the best results, I’d definitely recommend cooking old-fashioned oats on a stove top. I usually take about 1/2 cup and mix it in with 1 cup of almond milk, then cook it on high heat until it boils, then medium heat until it’s as thick as I want. Also, remember to always add a pinch of salt to your dish, even if you’re making a sweet one — you need that extra layer of flavor! Another cool way to try oatmeal with a twist? Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and stick in your oats — mixed with all the ingredients you want, this time with a 1:1 oat to liquid ratio — for about 40 minutes. Voila! You’ll never be bored with your breakfast again.