3 Ways to Eat Oatmeal (... and then some)

 
 Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

 

Everyone is always looking for the quickest grab-and-go breakfast option. For a while, I was getting breakfast with my coffee almost every day at Dunkin Donuts, but that was adding up quickly. My wallet was beginning to look like it belonged on a cartoon- you’d open it and nothing but moths would come out. Then I discovered oatmeal.

Oatmeal is one of the easiest and most affordable grab-and-go breakfast options that anyone can make. Oatmeal is also one of America’s most popular breakfast foods and has recently become a trend due to its convenience. Oatmeal is jam-packed with antioxidants and helps to reduce cholesterol and improve blood sugar control. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also a great source of fiber and protein, two things that help you to feel full for a longer amount of time. For this reason, a lot of people add oats to their diet while trying to lose weight. If you’re one of those people that finish eating a meal and want to eat something else almost immediately, maybe try adding oats to your diet. If you’re full, you’re not as likely to continue eating all of those unnecessary extra calories.

Oatmeal can be added to your regular diet in a variety of ways.  My brother, the oatmeal expert in our house, occasionally likes to make his using tea instead of water to give it flavor without adding any extra calories, sugar, or fat. Here are  3 of my personal favorite (and very different) varieties of oatmeal:

 

One: Overnight Oats

One of my coworkers told me about overnight oats a few years ago.  She said her daughter was making it all the time and it was so easy. She brought in a big batch of it to share with us at lunch. At first, I thought, Cold oatmeal? Not interested... Or am I? I was delightfully surprised at how delicious cold oatmeal could be! When she told me how easy it was to make, I knew I was sold.

I started by making basic overnight oats, then started going in an experimental direction. I started adding chia seeds, peanut butter, peanut butter powder, fruit, maple syrup- you name it! I have even made a recipe for ”Salted Turtle Overnight Oats” that was so rich it could actually have passed as a dessert.

This time around, I decided to try Carrot Cake Overnight Oats. I thought this might turn out to be another dessert type of overnight oats, but it worked out great for breakfast. This recipe was relatively easy; the hardest part was shredding the carrot, which wasn’t really difficult at all. It was oddly refreshing to have the flavor of the grated carrot. I also had originally planned to skip the raisins since I’m not very big on them but boy am I glad I didn’t, the raisins were my favorite part! They really pulled everything together and made this recipe more like carrot cake!

I made a few substitutions based on what I had laying around my apartment. You can view the original recipe here, or try my slightly altered recipe below:

Basic Overnight Oats (1 serving)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup milk of choice

Additional optional ingredients (mix it up and experiment!)

  • Spices (cinnamon, apple pie spice, allspice, etc.)
  • Nuts/Nut Butters
  • Seeds (if using chia seeds, you may want to add more milk since the seeds absorb the liquid)
  • Fruit/berries
  • Sweeteners (syrup, honey, brown sugar, agave nectar, etc.)

Directions: Throw it all in a jar, shake, put in the fridge overnight, and enjoy it in the morning!

Carrot Cake Overnight Oats (1 serving)

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 baby carrots shredded (or half a whole carrot, whatever you have on hand!)

  • 1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

  • 3/4 cup milk (I use unsweetened cashew milk)

  • 1 tbsp slivered almonds

  • 1 tbsp raisins (Don’t skip these! They made the whole thing!)

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • Dash of sea salt

  • 2 tsp lite/reduced calorie maple syrup

Directions: Throw it all into a mason jar or other food container, shake, put in the fridge overnight, and enjoy in the morning! (Yes, it IS that easy!!)

 

Want to make this at home? Here are some things you'll need:

 Click to get started on making these recipes at home!

Click to get started on making these recipes at home!

Two: Baked Oatmeal

Maybe overnight oats aren’t your thing, but you’re still looking to get into oatmeal. Lucky for you, I also decided to bust out one of my favorite baked oatmeal recipes this week, Baked Honey Berry Oatmeal. I decided to start making this one when I started my counting calorie phase. This time around, I tried to make them in a muffin tin and found that they were not cooking the same way that the full pan cooks. So, if you’re going to try making this recipe, I recommend making it in a 2-quart baking dish, not as a muffin.

 
 Berry Oats

Berry Oats

 

I have shared this recipe with my co-workers and it was an instant hit.  It’s slightly different every time that I make it depending on what I have on hand.  Sometimes I add coconut, sometimes it’s walnuts or almonds.  This time it was leftover trail mix on top, which made each muffin unique.  If you were lucky, you got one that had a surprise banana chip on it!  Check out the recipe below:

Baked Honey Berry Oatmeal (serves 6)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups quick-cook oats

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I like to add a little more so don’t hesitate!)

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk (I use unsweetened cashew milk)

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

  • 3 tbsp honey/maple syrup/agave nectar

  • 1 1/2 tbsp melted butter (I opted to use a mashed banana for the butter- it’s an equivalent swap so it’s 1 1/2 tbsp mashed banana)

Topping:

  • 2 cups frozen berries (Check out your dollar store frozen section!)

  • 1/4 cups pecans/walnuts/almonds etc.  (I used trail mix)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

  3. Put half of the berries on the bottom of the baking dish (2-quart size) and cover them with dry ingredients.

  4. Coat the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.

  5. Add the other half of the berries to the top and sprinkle with the nuts.

  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes (If you use rolled oats instead like I did, increase the baking time to 35-40 minutes, and keep an eye on it!  You’ll know it’s done when the liquid is absorbed).

 

Three: Savory Oatmeal

 
 Savory Oats

Savory Oats

 

Yes, you read that correctly. Savory oatmeal is something I didn’t think should be a thing at first. I found this recipe as I was reading one of my Food Network Magazines. I felt confused reading about it, but then a strange curiosity took hold and I ran to my kitchen and began cooking.

I used some shortcuts that would probably make Food Network cringe- like using my microwavable egg poacher- but I’m all about making food easy. This recipe made enough for 4 days, and each day, I looked forward to diving into this for breakfast.

You could really have this recipe for any meal, but I decided to keep oatmeal as a breakfast item for now, savory or not. This recipe was bursting with flavor and was definitely memorable.  Not to mention, my apartment smelled amazing while making this. You can view the original recipe from Food Network Magazine here, or try my slightly altered recipe below:

Savory Oats with Poached Eggs (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups water + 3 tsp chicken broth granules OR 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 cup oats (The recipe calls for steel-cut, but I used rolled and thought they were still great!)

  • 5 slices Canadian bacon, diced

  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 2 tsp thyme

  • 1/2 tsp rosemary

  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (15 oz.)

  • 1/2 cup water

  • Salt and pepper

  • 4 eggs

  • 1/4 reduced fat grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring the chicken broth (or granules and water) to a boil.

  2. Reduce to medium heat and stir in oats. Stir occasionally for about 20 minutes or until thickened.

  3. Cook the Canadian bacon in a skillet (if you bought it pre-cooked, it browns quickly). Put aside on a plate for later.

  4. Spray the pan with a little cooking spray and toss in the minced garlic, thyme, and rosemary. After about 10 seconds, stir in the canned tomatoes and 1/2 cup water. Simmer and stir occasionally.

  5. Once the tomato mixture is thick, remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, then add the Canadian bacon and combine.

  6. Poach eggs (I have an awesome egg poacher that makes these babies in about a minute in the microwave. If you don’t have one, you can bring water to a simmer in a pot and gently crack the eggs into the water. Cook them until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Remove from water using a slotted spoon and set aside for later. Season with salt and pepper.)

  7. Divide the oats into 4 portions. Top each portion with the tomato and bacon mixture and put a poached egg on top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

 

With so many different ways to add oats into your diet, what are you waiting for? Make some experimental overnight oats or try making a batch of savory to be a side with your dinner. Bake a batch of oatmeal to enjoy for the entire workweek. That’s the great thing about oatmeal. You can prepare a big batch way in advance and enjoy it for several days. You may start seeing a lot of differences in your eating habits and your health if you begin to regularly include oats in your diet!

You can read more about how oatmeal can benefit your health by clicking here.

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