What’s better on a cold morning than a nice warm bowl of oatmeal, right? How about a healthier version of one of our favorite comfort foods? While the oats themselves are a good choice of complex carbohydrates, the flavored oatmeals and the toppings we add can turn a nutritious breakfast into a not-so-nutritious one. That’s because some instant oatmeals are loaded with sugar and salt. Other times, we are tempted to add our own brown sugar or syrup to sweeten up the pot. A little is OK, of course, but we have some other ways to make a healthier bowl of oatmeal tomorrow morning.
1. Add some lean protein. If you’re on a low-glycemic diet and using instant oatmeal, add some lean protein or healthy fats to slow down the digestion and blood sugar spike. Since instant oatmeal is already processed, it can increase your glycemic index pretty quickly. To avoid that, prepare it with low-fat milk or sprinkle it with a couple tablespoons of walnuts. Otherwise, stick with slow-cooked oats.
2. Stir in some pumpkin. This is an unexpected twist, but adding a couple spoonfuls of pumpkin puree not only adds a ton of flavor, but it gives you a healthy dose of vitamin A and fiber. Top with some pecans for a seasonal treat.
3. Go crazy with fruit. Half a banana, a handful of berries, a grated apple or slices of ripe pear are all wonderful and nutritious choices to top your oatmeal. Fresh (or frozen) berries especially deliver a potent punch of antioxidants (which help fight cancer-causing free radicals), fiber and vitamin C. One of my favorite combinations is warmed diced pear with pecans, a tablespoon of low-fat vanilla yogurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. Yum!
4. Get crunchy. Pecans, walnuts, almonds are all good nutty choices and give you extra healthy fatty acids. This can help lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) and stave off heart disease. They also improve the health of the linings of your arteries which can prevent blood clots and heart attacks. But don’t stop there if you like a bit of crunch with your oatmeal. Pumpkin seeds, granola, and even a couple tablespoons of a low-sugar crunchy cereal work perfectly.
5. Add some sweetness. Forget about brown sugar or syrup, things like dried cranberries, dates, raisins, some fresh pineapple or even a tablespoon of peanut butter can add a nice dose of sweetness.
6. Go vegan. This is so easy. Instead of using cow’s milk, use almond milk. You get the same creaminess and a touch of sweetness. Here is a delicious recipe to try!
Tell us, what are your favorite ways to make oatmeal?