Oats are a humble superfood. Full of fiber, these whole grains aid in digestion and help you regulate your blood sugar. Because oats make you feel full longer, they're a nutritious way to avoid unhealthy snacking and lose weight.
However, many people, perhaps scarred by unpleasant childhood memories, avoid oatmeal. Maybe you remember stomaching spoonful after spoonful of thick and gluey porridge cooked on the stovetop, or idly stirring the packaged flakes in a pool of steaming water and hoping they'll dissolve. But oatmeal doesn't have to be gross. It's delicious when prepared properly.
Here are six ways to get more healthy oats in your diet:
Classic - Brown sugar and maple syrup
Cook 1 cup of rolled oats on the stovetop in 2 cups of liquid (you can use water to keep calories low, or a combination of milk and/or almond milk to bump up the fats and proteins). When it's bubbling and the liquid is absorbed, add a spoonful of brown sugar and a dash of maple syrup. Don't overdo it on the sweets, though. Just a dash will do.
Savory - Cheddar cheese, hot sauce, and an egg
Cook 1 cup of rolled oats on the stovetop in 1½ cups of liquid (you can use water to cut calories, or milk to make it creamy). While they oats are cooking, fry or poach an egg on the side. When the liquid is almost completely absorbed into the oats, add a handful of cheddar cheese and stir it in. When it's nice and melty, take it off the stove and pour it into a bowl. Then place the egg on top, add a dash of hot sauce if you're adventurous, and dig in.
Raw - Almond milk and plain Greek yogurt
Overnight oats are a hit with busy professionals as well as the raw-food community, because no cooking is required. You just measure a ½ cup of rolled oats into a bowl or jar and add a ½ cup of almond milk, plus a tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt. You can even sprinkle in a dash of cinnamon. Mix it all together, cover it, and leave it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, enjoy!
On-the-go - No-bake granola bars
Skip the grocery store granola bars that are full of sugar. Make your own no-bake granola bars that have no artificial ingredients or sweeteners and all the health benefits of pure, unadulterated oats. Just combine 3 cups of rolled oats, ½ cup of honey*, and 1 cup of peanut butter* in a bowl and stir the ingredients together. Pour the mixture into a pan lined with plastic wrap. Press it down and put the pan in the refrigerator. When it's set, cut into squares and wrap them up for on-the-go treats.
*Heat these up in the microwave or on the stovetop to make them more pliable.
Toasted - Homemade granola
Granola has gotten a bad rap as junk food in disguise. Save money and calories on granola by making it yourself. Measure out 3 cups of oats on a wax-paper lined pan, drizzle with ½ cup of honey, a dash of cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Pop it in the oven at 350 degrees and toast for 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through to prevent burning. When the oats are nice and toasty, take the pan out to cool. Then enjoy with some milk or yogurt.
Blended - Thrown into a shake
Even if you don't enjoy sitting down to a bowl of oats in the morning, you can still reap the health benefits of this hearty whole grain. Just toss a ¼ cup of rolled oats into your smoothie mix before you blend it all together. It will bulk it up with some fiber and help to regulate your blood sugar until your next meal.
No matter how you choose to work oats into your diet, it's a great way to up your intake of healthy whole grains. And with these five recipes, you can have some variety in how you consume them.