"Oatmeal can lower LDL cholesterol -- the 'bad' cholesterol -- and prevent heart disease and regulate blood sugar," says Registered Dietician Kim Hoban. "Compared to other whole grains, oatmeal tends to be higher in protein and fat and lower in carbohydrate counts."
And the best way to prepare it is to make it yourself. "It will taste better, and you control what’s in it," she says. But don't opt for the instant stuff: "Those packets usually have a ton of sugar and sodium and not a lot of fiber, which is the primary health benefit of eating oatmeal in the first place," she says. Plus, instant oatmeal has a higher glycemic index, which can mean blood sugar spikes that promote fat storage and leave you starving by lunchtime.
But if you think oatmeal is boring, think again. The hearty whole grain has come a long way from the bland food-service slop of the past. We’ve rounded up 10 healthy oatmeal recipes from some of our favorite food bloggers that aren’t your typical bowl of oats. Packed with flavor and good-for-you ingredients, these snack and breakfast ideas are sure to satisfy.
Sweet Potato Pie Oats from The Minimalist Baker
Perhaps the biggest health benefit of taking your oatmeal into your own hands is that you can avoid unnecessary sugars. This inventive bowl has a no-sugar-added option, deriving its sweetness from nutrient-dense sweet potatoes and date paste, instead. Roasted pecans add protein and runch, for a hearty, healthy bowl perfect for chilly mornings.
Healthy Cinnamon Roll Protein Oatmeal from Food Faith Fitness
Cinnamon rolls for breakfast? Yes please! Unlike the real thing, which can be complicated and time-consuming to bake, this simple recipe takes just five minutes. A warm bowl of oats is finished off with a cinnamon protein swirl and cream cheese topping that mirrors the ooey gooey goodness of icing, but without all the processed flour and sugar.
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Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal from Lovely Little Kitchen
Instead of skipping breakfast or grabbing something to-go, make your morning meal the night before. "Overnight oats are a great option for hectic mornings," says Hoban. Mix the ingredients and let it sit overnight in your refrigerator. When you wake up, the oats will have softened, eliminating the need to cook the grain. "You can create one base and then add different toppings each day," says Hoban. She suggests add-ins ranging from fresh fruit to flax or chia seeds to nut butters.
Slow Cooker Apple Pie Steel-Cut Oatmeal from The Healthy Maven
Who wouldn’t want to wake up to a house smelling like apple pie? Throw all the ingredients for this recipe into your slow cooker before going to bed. When you wake up in the morning, your house will smell like fresh baked pie and your breakfast will be waiting for you. The addition of almond milk is a great alternative for those avoiding diary (or watching their calories), according to Hoban. Make extra and you'll have enough to last you for the week.
Recovery Porridge from Cotter Crunch
Oatmeal isn’t just good pre-exercise fuel. It’s also a great recovery food, thanks to the combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, and natural sugars. Cook these oats before heading out for your workout, and they'll will be ready to eat when you get home. All you have to do is add the toppings. You’ll get protein from the soft-boiled egg and essential vitamins and nutrients from the dried cherries.
Baked Oatmeal from The Lean Green Bean
Switch up your regular bowl of warm cereal for baked oatmeal. According to Hoban, this version makes a well-rounded meal thanks to the addition of egg (protein), fruit (fiber), and nut butter (healthy fats). Bonus: Double the recipe and have breakfast prepared for the whole week.
Pomegranate Oatmeal Snack Cups from Fit Foodie Finds
Need a breakfast-to-go or a healthy mid-day snack? Try these pomegranate oatmeal snack cups. Not only are they cute, but they're healthy and easy to make. The recipe is free of dairy and gluten and Hoban notes that the use of a natural sweetener like pomegranate juice instead of refined sugar is a smart swap.
Ginger Oatmeal Waffles from Healthy Nibbles and Bites
Who says that a healthy breakfast can’t be decadent? Give your waffles a makeover with this recipe for ginger oatmeal waffles. Oats add a good dose of fiber, while the almond meal contributes filling protein and healthy fats to your morning meal. Swap your regular whipped cream for this healthier light cinnamon yogurt "whipped cream," and your nutritious morning meal will feel like dessert.
Oatmeal Raisin Pancakes from Nutritious Eats
Gluten- or dairy-free? This is the pancake recipe for you. The combination of almond flour and oats gives these hot cakes a heartier texture, not to mention a boost of protein and healthy fats, compared to regular all-purpose flour. Plus, the natural sugars from raisins will give you extra energy to start your day.
Oatmeal Cookie Dough Bites from Ari's Menu
Oatmeal isn't just for breakfast. For a sweet treat, these little bites will satisfy your craving for cookies while filling you with soluble fiber and healthy fats. The secret ingredient is dates, which add a delicious natural sweetness. All you need are 10 simple ingredients and your food processor or blender!