Pictured recipe: Quick-Cooking Oats
Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D., is our nutrition editor and resident oatmeal enthusiast. She believes oatmeal is the best breakfast food in the world since it's loaded with fiber and healthy carbs, which can help you maintain a healthy weight.
However, oatmeal can be a bit of a drag if you don't know how to jazz it up. It doesn't have to look or taste like a meal straight out of Oliver Twist, we promise! Here are four life-changing (and dietitian-approved) oatmeal hacks that will make your bowl of grains taste way better.
1. Don't Forget The Cinnamon
One of the biggest game-changers for better oatmeal is something that's likely already in your pantry.
"Cinnamon adds flavor and brings out sweetness without any added sugar," Valente says. "It also may keep your blood sugar stable and help your muscles recover faster. It's also delicious and smells amazing!"
Our Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oats recipe is the perfect way to start incorporating this anti-inflammatory spice in for the health benefits and improved flavor. It's the perfect breakfast for those who love a morning workout.
Related: Cinnamon's Secret Health Benefit
2. Use Milk or Non-Dairy Milk Instead of Water
"Growing up all I ate was oatmeal made with water, but now I use milk—either whole milk or unsweetened soy or almond milk—and my oatmeal is so much creamier," Valente says. "Milk also adds natural sweetness and protein."
Milk is naturally sweet thanks to lactose, a sugar compound found specifically in dairy products, and it's loaded with vitamin D and calcium for a nutrition boost. Unsweetened plant-based milks are also a great option, since they're fortified with important vitamins and minerals. We also love using unsweetened vanilla plant-based milks for an extra hit of sweetness without any added sugar.
Our Coconut Overnight Oatmeal recipe uses creamy coconut milk for rich and indulgent flavor. You can serve it hot or cold depending on your preferences for a creamy morning treat that will actually stick with you until lunch.
3. Toss in Some Mashed Banana
"Adding mashed or very finely diced banana into your oatmeal also makes your bowl creamier and sweeter," Valente says. "Not to mention, if you like banana bread, you'll probably love this combo. It's a great way to use up ripe bananas and gives your breakfast a bonus fruit serving."
Mashed banana not only adds an amazing texture and flavor to your bowl of oats, but they're also a good source of potassium and prebiotic fiber.
Our Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Overnight Oats with Banana taste indulgent, but they're actually super healthy. Banana elevates the flavor of the oatmeal and gives it a velvety texture that makes this easy breakfast taste way richer than it actually is.
4. Don't Forget the Protein
"Always add nuts, nut butter, seeds or something with protein to help give your bowl staying power," Valente says.
Valente notes cottage cheese is another great addition for a protein-packed bowl of oats and egg whites are also a popular thing to whisk in if you're cooking your oatmeal on the stove. And if you're a Greek yogurt fan, it's an easy protein-packed substitute for water or milk.
Try our Creamy Blueberry-Pecan Oatmeal made with both Greek yogurt and pecans for a seriously healthy way to start the day. Plus, nuts and seeds add a good fiber boost to keep you full for hours.
Related: Healthy Oatmeal Recipes