Oatmeal brings back memories of trying to convince my mother to add more brown sugar to my bowl. Of the different types of oatmeal: steel cut, rolled, or instant, my preference for rolled oats remains the same. It’s the coarser texture created when cooked in water, but most people enjoy their oats cooked in milk for a creamy consistency. In recent years, oatmeal brands have introduced instant varieties with artificial flavorings. Here’s a few instant and natural ideas that are healthier than the store-brought flavors. May your day have a sweet start.
Traditional cow milk works well. Goat milk is becoming a popular choice in recent years. Unsweetened soy milk is a great non-dairy alternative to cow’s milk in recipes. Unsweetened coconut, oat and other nut milks (mylks?) are also nice alternatives that are sold in the dairy section in the grocery stores, but they have little to no protein. Some flavors, such as star anise, cinnamon, and cardamon seeds, can be gently heated in milk prior to adding to oatmeal. Trying adding yogurt to your oatmeal bowl.
Brown sugar and maple syrup are nostalgic and comforting sweeteners. Their enriching, deep taste perfectly compliments oatmeal. Coconut sugar is a nice low-glycemic alternative (talk to your doctor if you have health issues with sweeteners). Honey adds a different flavor note and sweetness on its own.
3. Fresh Fruit
Try chopping pears, apples and mangoes. Add sliced bananas and diced strawberries. Pitt and half cherries. Or, try blueberries, raspberries and/or blackberries.
4. Dried Fruit
Toss in dried cranberries, raisins, cherry and other fruits. Roughly chop dried figs, apricots and mangos before using. Add the dried fruit to the oatmeal pot to slightly rehydrate the fruit for a juicy texture.
5. Nuts and Seeds
Roughly chopped walnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts are a few choices. Also, mix in sesame, sunflower, hemp, chia or ground flax seeds.
6. Other Additions
Add toast unsweetened coconut flakes, bittersweet chocolate chips, or roughly crystallized ginger.
A Few Flavorful Combinations
Sliced almonds, chopped Asian pear, chopped crystallized ginger or finely chopped fresh ginger, coconut flakes, honey, almond, and coconut milk
Peeled and chopped Granny Smith apple, chopped pecans, brown sugar or maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried cranberries, vanilla extract, and choice of milk
Sliced banana, chopped toasted walnuts, brown sugar, coconut flakes, choice of milk
Bittersweet chocolate, a peeled and chopped pear, brown sugar, roughly chopped walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and choice of milk
Sliced strawberries, blueberries, sliced almonds, honey, vanilla extract, and choice of milk
Quick Tip for Breakfast on the Go
The night before, on a 1:1 ratio, mix traditional oatmeal (not the quick-cook version) and milk with a pinch of salt into a sealed container. Place in the refrigerator. The next morning or at the office, reheat the oatmeal in the microwave. Top with milk and mix-in additional toppings.