Monday, August 22, 2016

What to Add to Plain Oatmeal to make it delicious!

Oatmeal is really the perfect breakfast food, at least in my opinion. When you choose whole oats that aren’t prepackaged with any extra sugar, flavoring or other processed ingredients, you’re getting a seriously healthy and filling dose of fiber-rich carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

The thing about plain oats (whether you like them steel cut, rolled, as oat bran or in some other form) is that they taste pretty bland on their own. You almost always have to add some other ingredients to it in order for it to taste like anything worth eating.

Unfortunately, pouring maple syrup or brown sugar or agave nectar all over it is a good way to quickly turn your healthy breakfast into a high-calorie bowl of sugar paste. You can certainly add just a little, but there are other ways to bring the flavor level up a few notches.

Here are some of my personal favorites to add to plain oatmeal.

1/2 cup of blueberries

Almost any berries will do, but blueberries are a must-try with oatmeal for a natural and healthy way to sweeten it up. They’re rich in vitamin C, help improve heart health, reduce your cancer risk and boost your brain health too. Try keeping a bag of frozen berries in your freezer and defrosting about half a cup in the microwave as needed to add to your oatmeal.

1 tablespoon of flax seed

It’s almost as if flax seed and oatmeal just belong together, and you’ll know what I mean when you taste these two together. Mixing just one tablespoon in gives it a subtle nutty taste that’s not at all overpowering. Flax seed is high in fiber, offering about two grams of it per tablespoon, and is also very rich in omega-3 fatty acids (ALA). This little seed can improve digestion, keep your heart healthy and keep you fuller for longer throughout the morning.

1 scoop of vanilla protein powder

An easy way to simultaneously boost protein and flavor in your oatmeal is by adding a scoop of your favorite type of vanilla protein powder to it. I use whey, but you can also try plant-based proteins for a vegan option. Just cook your oatmeal as you always do and then mix in one scoop of protein powder when it’s ready. It also tastes great alongside flax seed!

1 apple, cut up into small pieces (with skin)

Apples are a great source of antioxidants, flavonoids and fiber too. For an even tastier breakfast, sprinkle a bit of ground cinnamon on top of the apple pieces for a homemade apple-cinnamon bowl of oatmeal that the prepackaged stuff can never compete with!

1 banana, sliced

Bananas are definitely an oatmeal lover’s favorite. They’re perfectly sweet enough to turn bland oatmeal into something you can really enjoy. Bananas also have mood-boosting properties that may benefit you when you’re not feeling your best in the morning, plus they’re the perfect fruit to eat and energize you before a really intense workout.

1 tablespoon of natural almond butter

All you need is one tablespoon of this stuff to turn your oatmeal into something that tastes almost like warm, nutty cookie batter! Natural nut butters like almond butter add an extra dose of protein, healthy fat and other valuable nutrients. Research has shown that nuts can help lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol and keep the heart healthy.

1 tablespoon of dark/semisweet chocolate chips

Adding a tablespoon of chocolate chips to oatmeal is absolute heaven. They’ll melt over the warm oatmeal and make it creamier and richer than ever. Of course, dark chocolate is best, offering you loads of antioxidants and a mood-boosting effect. Just remember to stick to portion control. When combined with the almond butter and banana, you’ll practically be eating dessert (that’s surprisingly healthy) for breakfast!

If instant oatmeal is more your style - Here is a blog post about how I make instant oatmeal for my family.   It has lots of great flavor combinations as well.  You can have oatmeal every day, and Never eat the same thing twice.

I personally love to combine the above ingredients with oatmeal in all sorts of different ways. Bananas and blueberries go great together, or you can stick with the flax seed and add just a few chocolate chips. In the end, it’s pretty hard to mess it up when you experiment with some of these delicious combinations.