Nutrition Articles

No More Boring Oatmeal!

20 Ways to Turn Ordinary Oats into Something Special

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By Bryn Mooth, SparkPeople Contributor         
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Europeans have made oats a centerpiece of their morning meal for generations, notably in the fruit-oat-milk mix called muesli. The idea is simple: stir together oats and milk, add a bit of sugar, cinnamon and fruit, let sit overnight in the refrigerator, and you have a hearty, delicious (and no-cook!) starter. Follow this basic recipe; feel free to add chopped apple, fresh or frozen blueberries, sliced banana or dried fruit.

If you like cold cereal and milk, consider adding oatmeal’s healthy benefits to your bowl: Swap 1/4 cup of your regular breakfast cereal for an equal amount of old-fashioned oats. You’ll gain a bit of filling fiber, which just may help you make it through your morning.

Creative Oatmeal Combinations

A bowl of oatmeal, warm and hearty though it is, isn’t all that exciting by itself. But added fruit, nuts and other toppings make it delicious! Make your morning easy by having the add-ins ready to go the night before. Try one of the combinations below to add pizzazz—and nutrients—to a single serving of oatmeal.

One serving of cooked oatmeal (about 1 cup cooked) contains 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, 27 grams of carbs, around 6 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber.
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries, 1 Tbsp toasted pistachios, 1 tsp sugar (115 calories)
  • 2 Tbsp raisins, 1 Tbsp chopped pecans, 1 tsp sugar (125 calories)
  • 2 Tbsp dried cherries, 1 Tbsp chopped almonds, 1 tsp sugar (115 calories)
  • 1/4 cup blueberries, 1 Tbsp chopped walnuts, dash of cinnamon (70 calories)
  • 1/2 cup diced apple, 2 Tbsp dried cranberries (90 calories)
  • 1/2 cup diced pears and 2 Tbsp dried cherries (100 calories)
  • 1 Tbsp Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread), 1/2 a banana, sliced (150 calories)
  • 1 cup diced apple, 2 Tbsp raisins, sprinkle of cinnamon (140 calories)
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, 1 Tbsp maple syrup,1 Tbsp chopped toasted walnuts (140 calories)
  • 1/2 cup diced apple, 1 Tbsp raisins, 1 Tbsp peanut butter (165 calories)
  • 1 Tbsp honey, 2 Tbsp raisins, 1 Tbsp chopped walnuts (175 calories)
  • 1 Tbsp honey, 1 Tbsp peanut butter (160 calories)
  • 1/2 sliced banana, 1 Tbsp peanut butter (145 calories)
  • 1/2 cup sliced peaches, 1.5 tsp. brown sugar, 1 Tbsp sliced almonds, dash of vanilla extract (120 calories)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce, dash of cinnamon (35 Calories)
  • 1/4 cup apple butter, dash of cinnamon and allspice (or pumpkin-pie spice), 1 Tbsp dried cranberries or cherries (170 calories)
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh or frozen strawberries, 1 Tbsp sliced almonds, dash of almond extract (75 calories)
  • 3 Tbsp of your favorite fruit spread or preserves (80 Calories)
  • 1 Tbsp dry-roasted peanuts, 1 Tbsp raisins, 1 Tbsp mini chocolate chips (150 calories)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped dried banana chips, 1 Tbsp dry-roasted peanuts, 1 Tbsp raisins (120 calories)
  • 1 Tbsp dried cranberries, 1 Tbsp raisins, 1 Tbsp chopped pecans (130 calories)
  • Italian oatmeal: 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (125 calories)
More Deliciously Healthy Oatmeal Recipes
  • Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal: A recipe that calls for canned pumpkin and milk. Tastes like fall!
  • Orange Cranberry Slow-Cooker Oatmeal: Orange juice and cranberries give this oatmeal some zing.
  • Baked Oatmeal: A nice alternative to a bowl of oatmeal. Makes soft breakfast squares that are easy to reheat and enjoy!
  • Savory oats: Who says oatmeal has to be sweet? Here’s another interesting option: Cook oatmeal as directed above, and add a generous grind of fresh pepper. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, then spray lightly with cooking spray. Crack one egg into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook to your liking. Spoon oatmeal into a bowl, top with the egg and 2 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese and some sliced scallions if you like.
If you really want to tame the mid-morning munchies, then opt for a hearty, filling and delicious bowl of oatmeal. Using the ideas above, oatmeal will never be boring again!

Sources
Cholesterol: Top 5 foods to lower your numbers, from MayoClinic.com
Wake Up to the Benefits of Breakfast, from International Food Information Council
World's Healthiest Foods: Oats, from WHFoods.com
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About The Author

Bryn Mooth Bryn Mooth
Bryn Mooth is an independent copywriter and journalist focused on food, wellness and design; she's also a Master Gardener and enthusiastic green thumb. She shares seasonal recipes, kitchen techniques, healthy eating tips and food wisdom on her blog writes4food.com.

Member Comments

  • I am really starting to appreciate having steel cut oats in the morning, now pretty well a habit. Usually with blueberries or a banana. One of the reasons is that it takes some time to cook (10-15 minutes). I contrast this with a bowl of cereal which is virtually instant to eat meaning I can down two or three bowls in a few minutes. If it takes me 15 minutes to cook another helping, I won't do it. I'll just stop there, and that's far better for me. Eating steel cut oats in the morning has enabled us to rid our cupboards of cold cereal which I think is helping with my weight loss. - 5/2/2016 2:51:03 PM
  • I absolutely love oatmeal on the stove. So simple that it cooks while I am cutting up my fruit. Putting peanut butter in gives me extra protein and deliciousness. Try it with yogurt to the side..dipping each spoonful of your oatmeal concoction into the yogurt. Vanilla works well. - 10/13/2015 12:48:46 AM
  • I enjoy oatmeal, especially on a cold morning. But....., if I eat oatmeal, I have to have a protein snack around 10:00. Oatmeal does not stick with me. - 10/12/2015 10:21:42 AM
  • S without meaning to sound like a smart Alec where does plain rolled oats fit in the spectrum that's mostly whats for sale here it just says robin hood rolled oats on the bag . Also am I nuts or am I the only who eats them in a bowl cold with milk and some brown sugar? - 10/11/2015 10:27:16 PM
  • JANETEMILY
    Have loved oatmeal since I was a kid - it was always breakfast on Thursday! I usually make old-fashioned oats (3 minutes in the microwave!), but made steel cut in the Crock Pot on Sunday. They are good, but can't really see much difference between them and old-fashioned - and they have the same amount of calories and fiber - just a different texture.. - 10/2/2015 6:09:50 AM
  • GRANNYGRUNTZ
    *I much prefer the "steel cut oats". *Just seems to have a much better flavor to me. *Steel cut oats takes longer to cook on stove top SO I do cook steel cut oats in the microwave. *AND, I am only cooking 1-serving! *ADVICE: Use a FAIRLY DEEP bowl because the oats does tend to "boil over". *I put a plate UNDER the "bowl". *THE PLATE CATCHES ANY OF THE "BOILED OVER" OATS AND ELIMINATES THE MESS! ;-) *I even put a paper towel on the plate and under the bowl - even easier to clean up in case of boiled over mess! **HINT: Try adding DRIED CRANBERRIES to the oats when cooking! ;-)
    - 8/24/2015 2:06:08 PM
  • Oatmeal for breakfast just leaves me hungry all day.

    I always have eggs and fruit or vegetables for breakfast instead. - 4/14/2015 10:49:41 AM
  • Great ideas! I like to either add an egg while I am cooking quick oats in the microwave, or add raisins. Be sure and break the yolk, and that it's heated through and firm, before you eat it. I make a crater in the oats, add the egg, then add just enough water until the water level is just to the egg. That only takes about a minute and it's really good. - 3/30/2015 10:43:48 PM
  • LADYBUGSLUCK9
    I add a healthy dose of cinnamon to my oats before cooking, don't stir. & they cook up in the microwave wonderful! - 7/10/2014 8:31:24 AM
  • KVEBLEN
    Living in Canada means oatmeal with maple syrup. If you haven't tried it (with blueberries, raw sunflower seeds, cinnamon, etc. etc.), well, you must! - 5/13/2014 10:42:25 PM
  • I add a tablespoon of natural peanut butter to mine each morning. I put a spoonful in the bottom of my bowl and pour my hot oatmeal over it. It's additive ! - 11/18/2013 6:13:44 AM
  • I like apple cinnamon. I cook for one and do not like opening a large jar of applesauce or bottle of apple juice. I use the one snack pack size applesauce. I also buy the toddler size juice boxes, 6 oz., and will replace part of water with juice for apple flavor.

    also, try sugar free pancake syrup instead of maple syrup - 11/17/2013 1:33:43 PM
  • THINKBASS
    Love oatmeal! I have a bowl most mornings. Quick to fix and delicious. And funny enough my dear mother would, as a child, practically have to force me. - 8/28/2013 8:19:50 PM
  • Quaker now has "perfect portion" with no sugar, LOVE IT. I add 1 1/2 TBLS Peanut butter, ups my protein, and OH so good!!! YUMMMMM, eating breakfast now! - 8/28/2013 8:15:17 AM
  • JANETEMILY
    I remember, as a kid, Thursday mornings were always oatmeal days. My Mom had to cook them on the stove. (It was the 60's!) I use the microwave; old-fashioned oats only take 3 minutes! It's true, they can boil over easily in the microwave and make a mess, the trick to avoiding this is to use a wide, shallow bowl (like a soup bowl) instead of a regular cereal bowl. - 8/27/2013 8:19:43 AM

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