I am so excited to write this blog post because I LOVE oatmeal and there are so many ways to make oatmeal taste good.
In my opinion, oatmeal is very underrated. So many think it’s a bland and boring breakfast food, when in reality, it has the incredible potential to become a mouthwatering breakfast (or snack or lunch) with just a few simple tweaks.
- Understanding the Basics of a Good Bowl of Oatmeal
- How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good Without Sugar
- How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good and Still be Healthy
- How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good with Water
- How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good If You Don't Like It
- Bonus Tips to Enhance Your Oatmeal Experience
- There are many ways to make oatmeal taste good
- The Best High Protein Oatmeal Without Protein Powder
Understanding the Basics of a Good Bowl of Oatmeal
Creating a perfect bowl of oatmeal is all about finding the right balance of ingredients and flavors. The basics that make a good bowl of oatmeal start with selecting the oats that suit your taste – rolled oats for a quick cooking time or steel-cut oats for a chewy texture.
And as someone who has made oatmeal hundreds of times, I’ve found that the 1:2 ratio of oats to liquid makes the best consistency.
What Makes Oatmeal Healthy?
Oatmeal in itself is considered healthy for a few reasons. It’s packed with essential nutrients like complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, protein, vitamins (such as B1 and B5), and minerals (including iron, magnesium, and zinc).
The high content of soluble fiber, specifically beta-glucan, not only supports heart health by helping to lower LDL cholesterol levels, but it also can help with weight loss.
The slow digestion of complex carbohydrates in oats leads to a gradual increase in blood sugar levels, versus a sharp spike, which makes it ideal for those aiming to stabilize their blood sugar levels or manage diabetes.
This is a little bit of a tangent, but oats are also rich in avenanthramides, which is an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory and anti-itching properties. Anytime my son has an eczema flare up, we use oatmeal in his bath and it helped soothe the inflammation and itchiness..
Different Types of Oats and Their Benefits
There are many different types of oats, but here is a breakdown of the most common types of oats and their benefits:
- Rolled Oats (Old-Fashioned Oats): These are one of the most common and widely available types of oats. They cook relatively quickly and have a pleasant, chewy texture. They are versatile and can be used in oatmeal, granola bars, cookies, overnight oats and many other recipes.
- Quick Oats: These are rolled oats that have been further processed into smaller, thinner flakes. They cook faster than regular rolled oats, making them a convenient choice for a quick breakfast. However, due to the finer texture, they may lose some of the chewiness and their nutrition content because they are more processed.
- Steel-Cut Oats (Irish Oats): Steel-cut oats are whole oat groats (whole, husked oat kernels) that have been chopped into smaller pieces using steel blades. These have a coarser texture and a nuttier flavor compared to rolled oats. They retain more of their natural nutrients, including fiber and protein, making them an excellent choice for a more nutritious and filling breakfast. However, they require a longer cooking time compared to rolled oats.
- Instant Oats: Instant oats are pre-cooked and dried, allowing them to cook almost instantly with hot water or in the microwave. These kinds of oats are highly convenient for those who need a quick breakfast option. However, they are more processed than other types of oats, and may contain additives and added sugars.
The Role of Water in Cooking Oatmeal
Water is the essential liquid that hydrates and transforms the oats into a delicious and comforting breakfast dish. The primary function of water in cooking oatmeal is to hydrate the oats which softens them. As the oats cook, they absorb the water, expanding in size and becoming tender and palatable. Water is also used as one of many cooking mediums. Water conducts heat to the oats, allowing them to cook evenly and thoroughly. You can substitute water with other liquids including: dairy milk, plant-based milks, or protein shakes.
How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good Without Sugar
You do not need to add sugar to oatmeal for it to taste good. It can be so easy to turn a healthy balanced breakfast into a sugar bomb if you’re not careful.
Sweeten Naturally with Fruits
This is one of my favorite ways to sweeten oatmeal. Adding fruits to oatmeal not only adds sweetness, but it also adds vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. There are a few ways you can add fruits to oatmeal. You can either add sliced fruit into the oatmeal, or you can blend the fruit with the liquid you’re using to create a ‘juice.’ This helps distribute the fruit flavor evenly.
Using Natural Sweeteners
You can also sweeten the oatmeal with either some maple syrup or honey. Try to use no more than a tablespoon or two since the oatmeal is considered a high carbohydrate food and adding sweeteners adds to that carbohydrate load.
Enhance Flavor with Spices
Spices are always a great option to add to oatmeal which helps the oatmeal taste delicious. I like to play around with different spices including cardamom, cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice. Adding spices boosts the antioxidant and antiinflammatory levels of the meal and it naturally sweetens the oatmeal without needing to add more sugar.
How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good and Still be Healthy
When it comes to oatmeal, there are many ways to mix and match ingredients while still keeping it healthy.
The Power of Proteins
I want to do a little deep dive here because protein is the secret to making oatmeal a great breakfast option. Adding protein to oatmeal is important for these reasons:
- Sustained Energy Release: Protein slows down the digestion of carbohydrates in oatmeal, leading to a more gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream. This helps maintain stable blood sugar levels, providing sustained energy and reducing the risk of energy crashes throughout the day.
- Satiety and Appetite Control: Including protein in your oatmeal can increase feelings of fullness and satisfaction, which can help prevent overeating and frequent snacking between meals. This can be especially beneficial for those trying to manage their weight or lose weight.
- Muscle Maintenance and Repair: Protein is crucial for maintaining and repairing muscle tissues. By adding protein to oatmeal, especially after a workout, you can support muscle recovery and aid in the rebuilding of muscle fibers, promoting overall muscle health. I like to have a high-protein overnight oats like this protein-packed peanut butter overnight oats recipe after a workout to replenish my glucose and amino acids.
- Metabolism Support: Protein has a higher thermic effect compared to carbohydrates and fats, meaning that the body expends more energy to digest and process it. This can contribute to a slight increase in metabolic rate, which may be beneficial for those aiming to manage their weight.
- Nutrient Balance: Combining protein with the carbohydrates and fiber in oatmeal creates a balanced meal that provides a diverse range of nutrients. This balanced combination can support overall health and well-being.
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Protein can help mitigate the glycemic response of carbohydrates, which is so beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those looking to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
Sources of protein to add to oatmeal includes: nuts and seeds, Greek yogurt, milk or milk alternatives, and protein powder.
Creative Use of Vegetables in Oatmeal
Did you know you can add vegetables in oatmeal? You can add grated carrots, zucchini, or sweet potato for a subtle sweetness and extra nutrients. I love using grated carrots to make this carrot cake overnight oats recipe.
Optimal Use of Healthy Fats
I love using healthy fats to boost the nutritional value of oatmeal. Adding healthy fats to high-carb foods, like oatmeal, is important because it helps slow down the absorption of carbohydrates in the body and prevents sharp spikes in blood sugar levels. When we consume high-carb foods alone, they are quickly broken down into glucose, leading to a sudden surge in blood sugar, followed by a crash in energy levels. However, incorporating healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and nut butters, creates a more balanced and sustained release of glucose into the bloodstream.
This balanced blood sugar response promotes greater satiety, stable energy levels, and better overall blood sugar control.
Add healthy fats to oatmeal by adding a tablespoon of chia seeds, flaxseeds, or hemp seeds. Drizzle some almond butter or sprinkle chopped nuts for a creamy and satisfying texture.
How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good with Water
If you are out of milk or just prefer to use water, oatmeal can definitely still taste delicious when you cook it with water. You can enhance the flavor and texture of your oatmeal without needing to use dairy milk or plant-based milk.
The Right Ratio of Oats to Water
To achieve the best consistency, use a 1:2 ratio of oats to water. For every cup of oats, add two cups of water. This ensures that the oatmeal cooks evenly and isn’t too watery or too thick.
Salt – The Secret Ingredient
When making oatmeal, the amount of salt to add to the water depends on personal taste preferences. As a general guideline, you can start with a pinch (about 1/8 teaspoon) of salt per 1 cup of water or liquid used to cook the oatmeal. The salt enhances the flavor of the oatmeal, but it’s essential not to add too much, as it can quickly become overpowering. You can always adjust the amount of salt according to your taste once the oatmeal is cooked. Remember, it’s easier to add more salt later if needed than to try and reduce its amount once it’s already in the oatmeal.
Toasting Oats Before Cooking
Toasting the oats in a dry pan before cooking can elevate the oatmeal’s taste. It brings out a nutty aroma and adds a pleasant depth of flavor. Toast the oats for about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently with a spatula or wooden spoon. Keep a close eye on them to prevent burning. The oats are ready when they turn golden brown and emit a nutty aroma. Be cautious not to over-toast them as it can make the oatmeal taste bitter.
Importance of Cooking Time
Cooking time is an important element when making oatmeal because it highly impacts the oatmeal’s texture and flavor. Also, the creaminess of oatmeal depends on your cook time. To get the perfect consistency, cook the oatmeal over medium heat and simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Overcooking can result in a dry texture and affect the taste.
How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good If You Don’t Like It
If you don’t like the taste of oatmeal, don’t worry! There are several simple ways to make it taste good and even turn it into your favorite breakfast option. It took me months to start liking oatmeal but I realized it’s because I was making them wrong the entire time!
Incorporating Oatmeal in Smoothies
If you’re not a fan of traditional oatmeal, try adding it to your smoothies as a way to add some carbohydrates and fiber. Blend rolled oats with your favorite fruits, leafy greens, milk or yogurt, and a touch of natural sweetener. The oats will add a creamy texture and extra fiber, making your smoothie more filling and satisfying.
Making Savory Oatmeal Dishes
Oatmeal doesn’t have to be sweet! Experiment with savory oatmeal dishes to suit your taste preferences. Cook oats in vegetable or chicken broth instead of water, and top with sautéed vegetables, a sprinkle of cheese, and a fried or poached egg. The result is a hearty and nutritious savory meal that’s perfect for breakfast or a quick lunch.
Baking with Oatmeal
The options here are endless! You can create energy bars with oats, nuts, dried fruits, and a drizzle of honey for a nutritious on-the-go snack. You can also make this delicious oatmeal breakfast cookie.
Bonus Tips to Enhance Your Oatmeal Experience
Experiment with Toppings and Mix-ins
Take your oatmeal to the next level by getting creative with toppings and mix-ins. From chocolate chips and coconut flakes to crushed nuts and granola, there’s many options to add texture and flavor. My favorite toppings are Greek yogurt, cinnamon and some fresh berries!
The Magic of Overnight Oats
For a breakfast option that can easily be prepped the night before, try making overnight oats. Simply mix rolled oats with your favorite milk, sweetener, and toppings in a jar or container. Let it sit in the fridge overnight, and wake up to a ready-to-eat, creamy, and flavorful oatmeal. The oats absorb the liquid, creating a delightful and convenient meal to kickstart your day. Try this Protein Packed Peanut Butter Overnight Oats recipe for a healthy tasty breakfast or you can try any of these variations!
Preparing Oatmeal Bowls
Start with a base of cooked oats, then add your favorite fruits, nuts, and a dollop of yogurt or nut butter on top. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup for an extra touch of sweetness and sprinkle some cinnamon on top for a boost of antioxidants! Try this High Protein Oatmeal Recipe without Protein Powder for a filling oatmeal bowl.
There are many ways to make oatmeal taste good
The Best High Protein Oatmeal Without Protein Powder
- 2 cups soy milk
- 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or to taste
- 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt optional
- 1 tablespoon sliced almonds optional
- fresh fruit optional
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and pour in the oats, seeds, peanut butter, chocolate chips and maple syrup. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are soft and everything has melted together in a creamy consistency. This takes about 5-7 minutes.
- Place all the ingredients into a medium microwave safe bowl and stir together. Heat in the microwave on high for about 2 minutes. If you need more liquid to get the consistency add in one tablespoon at a time. Add toppings after the high protein has cooked through.
- Add toppings and let rest for a few minutes to cool. Thin with a little more milk, if desired. Serve warm.