Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Favorite Healthy Oatmeal Add-ins

We know oatmeal is good for us. But what can we add to make it more delicious and still keep it nutritious?

I'm not a serious health food nut, I eat plenty of junk. But whenever I read about a food that's healthy, and it's something that I like, I try to add it wherever possible.

For me, breakfast has to include protein and should not include sugar. Eating sugar in the morning seems to just make me hungrier all day. And artificial sweeteners all have an aftertaste that I just don't like. So... no sweeteners here.

Use the standard measurements of 1 part dry oatmeal to 2 parts water (i.e., one serving: 1/3 C oats and 2/3 C water). Sometimes I cook it in a saucepan on the stove, but I often nuke it in a glass bowl in the microwave.

Here are my favorite healthy, tasty oatmeal additions (the amounts can be a spoonful, a handful, a pinch... whatever tastes good. Start with a little, add more if you like.)

Before cooking the oats, add any of these:
  • Cinnamon (adds good flavor, and no sugar)
  • Walnut pieces or Almonds (Trader Joe's unsalted dry toasted sliced almonds are great)
  • Blueberries, fresh or frozen (and they turn your oatmeal a lovely color purple)
  • Peach Slices, fresh or frozen (delicious with the cinnamon)
  • Flaxseeds, freshly ground. (If you've always wondered what to do with a mortar and pestle, that works great for this, a spoonful of flaxseeds grinds up in a minute)
After cooking your oats, (about one minute for Quick Oats, 3-5 minutes for Old Fashioned Oats) add any of the following:
  • Sliced Bananas
  • Raspberries, fresh or frozen (these are better added cold or at room temp., not cooked)
  • Plain Nonfat Yogurt (adds protein and calcium, with no fat, and no sugar)
  • Natural Peanut Butter (natural, where the only ingredient is peanuts and maybe salt. Trader Joe's natural peanut butter is great.) And if you add peanut butter while the oatmeal is hot, it melts in and gets gooey and is surprisingly tasty in here. Plus it adds a nice protein boost.
  • Milk (I use skim milk, but use whichever kind of milk you like: soy, rice, almond.)
When I eat a bowl of this oatmeal, with any or all of these healthy things stirred in, I don't get hungry for a very, very long time. It's a healthy, filling and delicious breakfast.

Do you have other healthy oatmeal additions that you enjoy? Feel free to leave a comment and share your favorites.