Read this before you cook oatmeal again

Oatmeal is one of those breakfast options that we know we should be eating more often, but let’s face it: When morning rolls around, it can be hard to get enthused about a bowl of cooked grains when a waffle or a bacon-and-egg sandwich is available. For many of us, oatmeal conjures up images of a bowl of bland, unappealing mush, either too gluey or too watery, that you choke down because you’re trying to stay healthy.

It’s true that oatmeal is a nutrition powerhouse. As Good Housekeeping notes, a half cup of dry rolled oats contains just 150 calories, is low in fat and cholesterol, and is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Oatmeal has also been proven to lower cholesterol in several different ways (via Science Daily).  But if the thought of making it a part of your morning routine fills you with dread, it might be because you’re making oatmeal wrong.

As food experts explain, oats don’t have to look and taste like library paste. Following a few simple guidelines will result in a delicious, nutritious breakfast that will satisfy you (and maybe even curb the craving for that cinnamon roll). 

Proper cooking is key to delicious oatmeal

To start with, consider the type of oats you’re using. Steel-cut (or “Irish”) oats are heartier and nuttier than rolled oats, which may appeal to your taste buds. They’re also high in iron and have a low-glycemic index (per Bob’s Red Mill). But old-fashioned rolled oats can be equally delicious if cooked correctly. 

One of the most common oatmeal faux pas is cooking the oats in milk, according to Bon Appetit. Rather than making the oatmeal creamier, it results in thick, bowl-clinging goop. Instead, use the amount of water indicated on the package and add a bit of regular or almond milk once the oats are done. Bring the water (with a pinch of salt) to a boil before adding the oats.

Or try overnight oats. As the name suggests, it’s a fix-it-and-forget-it recipe that saves time in the morning and eliminates the boiling altogether. There are a number of good versions, such as this one from Food Network: Just combine equal amounts of oats and milk in a container along with a teaspoonful of chia seeds, and yogurt and banana if desired. Refrigerate overnight, then add fruit, nut butter or the topping of your choice. 

The other mistake you may be making is assuming oatmeal always has to be sweet. Eat This Not That! points out that there are any number of savory options to jazz up ordinary oats. Try mixing cooked oatmeal with eggs, cheese, spinach, avocado, peppers, or even sriracha.  

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