There’s no question about it: Oatmeal is a nutritional powerhouse. “Oats not only provide filling fiber, but are also rich in b-vitamins and minerals to aid in boosting your metabolism and providing stable energy throughout your day,” says Ali Miller, RD, LD, CDE, owner of Naturally Nourished, a functional medicine practice in Houston, TX.
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And though it shines when eaten solo, oatmeal is even better when nutrient-rich extras are piled on top. “Oatmeal is versatile,” says Kath Younger, RD, of Charlottesville, VA. “Not only can you use it as a base for a grain bowl like you would with quinoa, you can also eat it hot or cold and with as many different kinds of ingredients mixed in as you like,” she adds.
To get the most out of your bowl, Miller recommends opting for steel-cut oats, the variety that’s highest in soluble fiber and beta glucans (linked to lower cholesterol). Cook up a big batch, then simply portion out three-fourths of a cup of cooked oats each day, adding whichever toppings suit your fancy. From peaches ‘n cream to savory chicken sausage, here are seven inventive oatmeal recipes to start your day with a bang.
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1. Pumpkin Pie
1/8 cup canned pumpkin + 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 2 tsp almond butter; serve warm or cold
Sure, fall is still a ways off. But we’re down for this healthy breakfast treat year-round. “Pumpkin provides loads of vitamin A and flavor without adding too many calories,” Younger says. Nut butter gives your bowl a smooth texture, too.
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2. Peaches ’N Cream
3 oz. full fat coconut milk + 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 cup thawed frozen peaches + 1/2 scoop grass-fed whey protein; serve warm or cold
We swear — coconut milk makes everything better. And it’s good for you, too. “I am a big fan of ensuring macronutrient balance — meaning, I like to leave no carbs ‘naked,’ always pairing them with protein and healthy fat,” says Miller.
3. Going Bananas
1 mashed ripe banana + 1/2 cup cottage cheese; serve cold
Yeah, you can say we’re bananas for ‘naners. (Here are 23 reasons, for starters.) “The salty flavor [of the cottage cheese] balances really nicely against the sweet banana,” says Anne Mauney, MPH, RD and wellness blogger. “And the cottage cheese adds a big protein punch.”
4. Sausage Bowl
1 tbsp shredded cheddar + 1 tbsp green onions + 2 oz cooked sliced chicken sausages, serve warm
For all you meat eaters out there, this one’s for you. Think of this bowl as a omelet, but instead of eggs, you’ve got oatmeal as your base. The result? Savory, healthy and filling.
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5. Bacon Bliss
1/4 chopped apple + 1/4 tsp cinnamon + 1 strip crumbled turkey bacon; serve warm
Apple and bacon, FTW. “A little crumbled turkey bacon from yesterday’s breakfast makes a great topping for oatmeal,” says Younger, especially when set against the cinnamon spice and sparkling apple flavor. “Leave the skins on the apples,” she adds. “Extra fiber is always appreciated!”
6. Cheery Cherry
1 cup tart cherry juice + 1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 1 tsp maple syrup; serve warm
How many superfoods can you fit in one breakfast? The answer is here. Use the cherry juice in place of water when microwaving oats and you’ll get a berry-hued bowl. Adding flaxseeds provides good-for-you fats and fiber while the maple syrup lends a hint of sweetness.
7. Breakfast Sandwich
1 fried egg + 1/4 avocado; serve warm
Our love of breakfast sammies runs deep. And this deconstructed recipe is no exception. “Both ingredients have heart-healthy fats, and the egg is high in protein, too,” says Younger. Add a little hot sauce if you’re feeling spicy.
Originally published December 2015. Updated August 24, 2016.