Oatmeal has a reputation for being boring, but it's far from it. Sure, oats are plain on their own, but that's exactly what makes them such a perfect canvas to experiment on. You can make them sweet or savory and you can cook them or not, but whatever you do, odds are your bowl of oats is always going to end up tasting pretty damn spectacular. With a little creativity on your end, you can easily eat it every single day without getting sick of it.
And why wouldn't you want to? Oatmeal has nutrients like fiber and protein, which means it'll keep you energized and satisfied well until your next meal. Plus, it's easy for even the most inexperienced home cook to make. As long as you make sure to add other delicious, nutritious toppings that will make it a full meal (like fruits or veggies, protein sources like Greek yogurt or fried eggs, and healthy fats like seeds or nut butters), registered dietitians say it can be a great addition to your daily routine.
Whether you already eat oatmeal every day and are looking for some fresh ideas to spice it up, or you want to start eating it more often, these are all the best ways to keep it exciting. From adding a dash of cocoa powder to baking it, you'll want to try these ideas out ASAP.
Start by experimenting with the different kinds of oats.
First of all, there isn't just one type of oat, there are several. Steel-cut, quick-cooking, old fashioned—these varieties all taste different and delicious in their own way. For example, steel-cut has a mouthfeel like rice that makes it great for savory risotto-style dishes, but not so great for overnight oats. Old fashioned oats, on the other hand, are perfect for anything you want to soak overnight. But if you want a quick non-cook oatmeal (like muesli), quick-cooking oats are what you need. Don't feel chained to these pairings, though. Feel free to experiment with the different kinds of oats in any ways that you think would taste good.
Try baked oatmeal—it's great for meal prep!
"Experiment by making a baked oatmeal," Lindsey Pine, M.S., R.D., owner of Tasty Balance Nutrition, tells SELF. "[It's] basically a casserole and provides a firmer version of oatmeal," which means it's great for meal prep, she explains. It's easy to cut into slices and even easier to grab on your way out the door. And one recipe equals a bunch of servings, so you'll have enough for the whole week in one go. Try this recipe out to get started.
Make your oats taste like your favorite dessert.
Or give your breakfast a savory spin.
"Oatmeal doesn’t have to be sweet," Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City-area, tells SELF, "there are so many options for making it savory." Making a great savory oatmeal is as simple as cooking steel-cut oats in vegetable broth instead of water. You can eat it grain-bowl style and top it with fresh chopped veggies and hard-boiled eggs, or you can turn it into something soupier like congee, a kind of porridge common in East Asia. Or, you can simply take a plain bowl of oats and doctor it up just before you dig in. Gorin likes to add a drizzle of pesto, but you can really use whatever you like.
When in doubt, a dash of cocoa powder never hurts.
Both Gorin and Pine recommend adding a dash of cocoa powder to your oatmeal when you need a change. It's super simple and it turns your morning oats into a chocolatey treat.
Or top your oats off with coffee and get your caffeine and breakfast in one go.
I love the idea of an oatmeal latte. It gives you that caffeine jolt and fills you up, and it tastes amazing. You can infuse your oats with coffee in a couple ways—either add a bit of espresso grounds (which are ground very finely) to your oats while they're cooking, or top the whole thing off with a shot of espresso or brewed coffee like it's an affogato. Either way, your breakfast is probably going to be great.
Add some egg whites.
Adding egg whites to your oatmeal is a super simple way to bump up the protein content and make its texture light and fluffy. To do it, add egg whites a tablespoon at a time to your oats after they've been removed from heat (if you add them over heat, the eggs could scramble). Then return your oats to a low heat, stirring constantly, until they thicken up, which takes about two to three minutes. Try this recipe to get you started.
Don't forget about overnight oats.
If you love oatmeal but hate cooking, considering overnight oats. To make them, all you have to do is combine oats with your wet ingredients and let them sit overnight. They'll be plump, delicious, and ready to eat by the time you wake up.
And if you like your oats cold, give muesli a try.
If you love cold oats, but always forget to set up overnight oats the night before, muesli might just be for you. Muesli is just raw oats, sometimes with nuts or dried fruit or seeds, always topped with something wet like milk or yogurt. You can top it off with milk and eat it straight away, or you can quickly let it soak and then dig in (10 minutes should be more than enough time).
With these oatmeal-making tricks, you'll never get bored of your breakfast.