Monday Munchies – 14 Fantastic Oatmeal Add-Ins

Nothing warms you from the inside out quite like a warm bowl of oats.  It’s definitely my preferred breakfast when the weather gets cold and nasty as is has been the past few days.  I even like half portions as snacks in the afternoon or as a warming snack before bed, it’s just that good.

Whether you make your oatmeal from scratch with old-fashioned rolled oats or whip it up super fast with instant oatmeal packets, there are plenty of great mix-ins you can add to give your breakfast a tasty (and sometimes nutritional) boost.

***A quick word on instant oatmeal:  avoid it if you can.  Sure it’s super fast and portable, but it’s usually packed with sugar and the oats are so broken down they don’t have a lot of nutrition left in them.  Certainly not enough for them to really “stick to your ribs.”  Many of the delicious variations below can be prepped ahead of time and taken with you to the office or where ever it is you usually take your instant oatmeal, and it only takes a minute or two to heat up. ***

Ways to Boost Your Bowl of Oats

For all of these I start with 1/2 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats or quick oats, which are both unsweetened, but if you are starting with instant oatmeal omit any added sugars or sweeteners.

 1. Cranberry Almond : 2 tablespoons dried cranberries, 1 tablespoon chopped almonds (raw or dry roasted), 1 tablespoon brown sugar, a drizzle of honey

2. Peaches and Cream: 2 tablespoons peach jam, 1/3 cup vanilla soy milk instead of water, a dash of nutmeg and allspice

3. Apple Cinnamon: 1 whole cubed apple (with or without skin, it’s your preference), 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 tablespoon brown sugar

     ~This one does take longer to cook due to the whole apple.  Smaller apple chunks will let it cook faster, and apples without skin will be softer instead of having a crisp crunch to them.

4. Peanut Butter and Jelly: 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter, 1 tablespoon strawberry jam

5. Banana Nut Bread: 1/2 large banana cubed, 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

6. Cinnamon Raisin: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 1/2 tablespoons raisins

7. Savory Breakfast: 1 slice of crumbled bacon, 1 slice of cheese (preferably sharp cheddar) or 1/4 cup shredded cheese, chopped herbs such as chives or thyme

8. Chocolate Decadence (more for a snack than for breakfast): 1 tablespoon chocolate chips

9. Tropical Paradise: 1 tablespoon each diced dried apricots, dried pineapple, dried mango, and shredded coconut

10. Just like Fruit Crisp: 1 cup fresh fruit (apple, pear, peach, or any berry combination), 1/4 cup granola added after cooking –> try the Best Granola Ever

11. Pumpkin Pie: 1/3 cup canned pumpkin, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 teaspoon allspice

12. Coffee Cake: Add 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee to 1/3 cup milk before mixing it in your oatmeal.  Add granola or a crumble topping of 1 tablespoon cold butter, 3 tablespoons white flour, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar after cooking

13. Berries Galore:  1/4 cup fresh blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries, 2 tablespoons honey

14. Caramel Apple: 1 whole cubed apple, 2 tablespoons caramel topping

Adjust any of the measurements to your taste, as these are just guidelines to get you started.  Experiment with what you have in the cupboards, and never get bored with plain old oatmeal again!

BONUS

Want to take your oatmeal experience even farther?  Try this amazing steel-cut oats recipe from one of my favorite chefs, Alton Brown.  Be sure to toast the oats and don’t skip the buttermilk, it makes all the difference in the world.  It’s a recipe I make on lazy Sunday mornings when I have the time, and it stores and reheats beautifully!

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