Healthy breakfasts don’t have to be time consuming. One of the most healthy and hearty breakfasts especially for a winter morning is oatmeal, because it is a rich source of soluble fiber, is full of antioxidants, and low in calories. One half-cup serving of plain oatmeal only yields 150 calories, while providing a special type of antioxidant called avenanthramide that protects against heart disease, high cholesterol, and even prevents the hardening of the arteries, as reported by HealthyEating.org. The fiber in oatmeal also keeps consumers feeling full longer, preventing the need to snack on sugary or salty foods throughout the day.
Plus, oatmeal is impressively customizable. The whole grain is like an open slate, catering to those who like their porridge plain with just a touch of brown sugar, or those who like to get more creative in the morning with their different sets of toppings. Here are six examples of recipes that fall into both camps, and even recommendations that help you get most of the oatmeal grunt work done the night before. Check out these way to transform your favorite whole grain, and get ready to reap the health benefits.
1. Overnight Oats
We’ll start with a recipe for overnight oats, because this is arguably the most appealing oatmeal recipe for those who don’t have the time in the morning to stand over a bowl of oatmeal at the stove and stir, stir, stir. Overnight oats is also an especially attractive option in the warmer months when the thought of eating a warm breakfast on a hot morning makes people sweat just thinking about it, but it can even be appetizing in the winter months for those who prefer a cold breakfast.
The secret to overnight oats is reflected in its name: you prepare your oats the night before and then only have to add your toppings once the morning rolls around. This recipe from Whole Foods serves 4.
- 2 cups rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)
- 2 cups low fat milk or unsweetened soy milk or almond milk
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds
- 2 peaches or apricots, pitted and sliced
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar (optional)
Directions: Combine oats, milk, zest and vanilla in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, scoop oatmeal into bowls and top with pecans, peaches, and a drizzle of agave nectar.
2. Baked Oatmeal
Keeping with the zero-morning-prep pattern, we come to the land of baked oatmeal, another oats-inspired breakfast that allows you to have your no-fuss breakfast, and eat it too. Baked oatmeal is another great option for rushed mornings because it can be baked the night before, and then simply heated in the oven in the morning, or enjoyed cold. Though there are several flavor variations that one can enjoy with baked oatmeal, we’ve picked a basic baked oatmeal recipe via Taste of Home to share with you today. This recipe requires a 9-inch square baking pan, and thus yields a lot of servings. That’s great news for any family that has a lot of mouths to feed, or even greater news for oatmeal lovers that want to keep the good stuff all to themselves. This highlighted recipe serves 9, and can be kept in the fridge covered all week long. Bake this on Sunday and you’ll still be enjoying the fruits of your labor come Friday.
- 3 cups quick-cooking oats
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup butter, melted
- Additional milk
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and butter. Stir into oat mixture until blended. Spoon into a greased 9-inch square baking pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until set. Serve warm or cold with milk.
3. Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Back to the drawing board, we pivot in the direction of normally cooked oats, but this time, enhanced by seasonal add-ins. First one up is pumpkin pie oatmeal because although the holidays are over, pumpkins are still in season, and this recipe by Fitness Magazine should encourage you to enlist the vegetable to help rid you of the winter blues. This tasty spin on regular oatmeal is usually prepared the morning (we’re talking 5 minutes flat), but the breakfast also can be made the night before and then warmed up in the AM. If you decide to prepare the oats before, however, be warned that the grains will soak up the liquid and will thus be thicker than some may like. If this is the case, simply add more water or milk to your bowl of oats in the morning.
- ½ cup old-fashioned oats
- ½ cup skim milk
- 1 ripe banana, sliced
- 2 dashes cinnamon
- ¼ cup pureed canned pumpkin
- 1 dash ground cloves
- 1 dash ground nutmeg
- Handful frozen blueberries (optional)
Directions: Put the oats, milk, sliced banana, and cinnamon into a small pot on the stove. Stir continuously over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture gets thick and creamy (and starts bubbling). Stir in the frozen blueberries now if you like. Turn down heat to medium low and add the canned pumpkin and a dash each of ground cloves and ground nutmeg. Serve hot and enjoy.
4. Dark Chocolate Oats
Next up is a recipe for Dark Chocolate Oats via JoyBauer.com. Since who doesn’t love chocolate in the morning? This recipe is a great way to incorporate ingredients into a breakfast that are both good for your body and good for your soul. The addition of cocoa powder to the oats is a great treat, and doesn’t take away from the nutrition benefits the basic bowl of oatmeal yields. These oats also still pack a nutrient punch, even with the inclusion of chocolate, and even better — they’re extremely kid-friendly. Can’t lure your kids out of bed with the promise of Cheerios? Try this warm bowl of chocolate oats. They’re certainly worth waking up for.
- ½ cup oats, old-fashioned, or quick-cooking oats
- 1½ teaspoon cocoa powder, unsweetened
- 1½ teaspoon sugar, granulated
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup berries, fresh, or frozen, thawed berries (may substitute 1 sliced banana)
Directions: Prepare the oats with water or skim milk according to package directions. Stir the cocoa powder, sugar, and vanilla extract into the prepared oatmeal. Top with berries (or sliced banana).
5. Peanut Butter & Jelly Oatmeal
Speaking of kid-friendly oatmeal recipes, here’s another recipe to try that appeals to the palates of both adults and children. Just in case you don’t want to go the chocolate route in the morning, here’s a healthier way to have lunch for breakfast. Loaded with soluble fiber, vitamins, healthy fat from the peanut butter, and natural sugars from the jelly, this steaming boal of oats has an impressive nutritional profile, and even better — it’s satiating. This recipe comes from Food.com and serves two, just in case you have another mouth to feed besides your own. These oats cook up in less than five minutes so now you really have no excuse not to treat yourself in the morning.
- 2¼ cups water
- 1⅓ cups oats, uncooked (quick cooking or old fashioned)
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of jelly or 1 to 2 tablespoon preserves (any flavor)
Directions: In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil and then stir in all ingredients but the jelly/preserves. Cook about 1 minute or quick oats or 4 to 5 minutes for old fashioned oats, stirring occasionally. Swirl jelly or preserves into the oatmeal or just dollop on top.
6. Coffee Frappuccino Oatmeal
Last but definitely not least: Coffee Frappuccino Oatmeal. Because if that doesn’t spell out the perfect breakfast recipe, we don’t know what does. This recipe shared via Chocolate Covered Katie combines two morning staples into one and offers you a shot of caffeine with your morning oats. The breakfast can be prepared on the stove top or in the microwave, and can be made in morning or night, although the recipe developer encourages a night prep for the thickest, richest oatmeal. Tomorrow morning, you won’t only be traipsing through the dark to locate your coffee machine; you’re also be waking to find this perfect caffeinated oatmeal.
- 1 serving rolled oats
- ½ cup milk of choice
- 1 cup water or more milk of choice
- ¼ teaspoon salt (important to add before cooking)
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- sweetener of choice
Directions for stove top: Combine all ingredients (use ½ cup water if you’re not letting oats sit overnight). Cook, stirring occasionally, until oats are soft (still slightly liquid if you want to let it sit uncovered in the fridge overnight). If desired, chill in the fridge. Otherwise, serve and enjoy.
Directions for microwave: Combine first four ingredients in a large pyrex measuring cup, and microwave 4 minutes (watching to ensure it doesn’t spill over). Leave in the closed microwave 5 extra minutes, then transfer — uncovered — to the refrigerator to sit overnight and absorb the liquid. The next day, add the coffee, a tiny pinch more salt, and sweetener. Stir, and reheat if desired.