How to Make Oatmeal Healthy and Fun!

I don’t know about you but I  ❤ oatmeal! It’s my go to breakfast. I can eat it plain but I definitely prefer it loaded with goodies. I don’t mean butter, brown sugar and cinnamon(even though that is tasty.)

We need to work on reducing the added sugar in our lives and yes I know fruit has sugar too but it’s not the bad refined sugars that are found in almost every processed food you find. Breakfast seems to be a grab it and go meal or a hurry and eat a bowl of cereal. I’m here to tell you that starting your day with a dish of processed sugary carbs is not the way to go. BUT. I have to confess, I used to eat cereal for breakfast all the time. Frosted Mini Wheats were one of my favorite cereals because they are whole wheat, that meant they were good for me right?!? Once I decided to start eating healthier, I switched to instant oatmeal packets, which really aren’t much better. Below are the sugar amounts in just a few of my kid’s favorites. I only buy them once a month as a treat because I know that if I don’t allow it 100% of the time they are going to want it even more. (In case you’re wondering the cereals I usually buy for them are Kix, Chex, Cheerios and Rice Crispies. They still mostly exceed their daily limit.)

Sugary Cereals edit

The chart below shares what the American Heart Association recommends for your daily sugar intake. This chart is for adults. We are almost doubling the sugar intake recommended just starting our days out, that’s not counting the milk you pour over your cereal. What about the sugary creamers we have in our coffee, the sugar in juices, the sugar in our sodas at lunch time or the sugar in our “treats?” Sugar is the plague of obesity and diabetes, if we don’t start working towards lessening it we will never beat those two diseases.

Daily Added Sugar Limit Graphic

How do you fare on your daily sugar intake?

What do you say we work on reducing what you start your day with at least?

I often hear “oatmeal doesn’t fill me up,” and I’m going to say that’s because you aren’t loading it up. Think about it, 150 calories of just oatmeal isn’t going to carry you very far. Adding more protein, fiber and energy to that bowl is going to make it carry you further into the day! Plus adding a texture variety seems more satisfying that a bowl of mush. Oatmeal is a great breakfast because its simple and doesn’t take long to make. Also, it has between 5-7 grams of protein in half a cup. When you’re vegan, and active, you bet you count every bit of protein you can! It’s minimally processed because if you were to eat it unprocessed our bodies wouldn’t be able to digest all the nutrients in it. Think corn 🙈🙊

Oatmeal

What do I add to my oats to spruce up the bland flavor my husband loathes?

Lots of fruits, nuts and seeds(those are for protein, not flavor.)

Fresh fruit is obviously the best fruit option because it’s going to be the most natural. Frozen would be the next best because while freezing it can take away a small amount of the nutritional content, it’s not enough to say you shouldn’t eat it. Plus frozen is usually cheaper than fresh and it stores easier. You can do dried fruit too, but beware it’s usually dried with added sugar. Canned fruit is the same, usually has added sugar so I’d try to stay away from that. Always check the labels, that’s one of my biggest clean eating tips. If you’d like to learn more about clean eating you can learn more on my blog  here.

Nuts are usually raw because seems all the roasted ones are salted. No need to add extra salt in our diets either. Don’t get me wrong, our bodies do need salt but not in the excess we use today. Some of my favorite nuts are walnuts, almonds, pecans and pepitas(pumpkin seeds). They add good flavor and pack a little extra protein. Nuts shouldn’t be eaten in excessive amounts because they are high in fat, but good in moderation.

Protein per ounce (approximately)

  • Pepitas- 5 grams
  • Pecans- 2.6 grams
  • Almonds- 6 grams
  • Walnuts- 4.3 grams

Want even more nutrition in that bowl?

Having extra protein to add along with Omega 3’s make adding seeds into your oatmeal a bonus. My favorite seed to add in is Chia seeds because you can’t taste them. They are kind of fun because when you add them to water they get jelly like. My second would be Hemp seeds as a topping, I don’t like them cooked into my oatmeal because I feel like it gets a peppery flavor, Troy just doesn’t like the texture. Then lastly would be ground Flaxseeds, I don’t really like the texture this adds, but I know it’s really good for you so I make sure they are always in my cabinet to rotate. It’s super important to eat a variety of foods so you get the best nutrition you can. All three seeds are rich in omega 3’s which is good for people, like me, who aren’t getting them from eggs or fish!

Seed Perks

  • Chia Seeds- 2 Tbsp has 5 grams of protein. Chia seeds have an amino protein score of 115, anything over the score of 100 means it’s a complete or high quality protein, so yeah buddy! {Fun fact} Chia is the ancient Mayan word for strength!
  • Hemp Seeds- 3 Tbsp has 10 grams of protein. Depending on how you get your seed, whole, ground, hulled, etc, depends on the amino protein score for this seed. Seems to be in between 40 and 90. I wouldn’t rely on this as your only protein source, but like I said, eat a variety of proteins and you should be good 😉 Hemp seeds have been around as a food staple for a very long time but there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to back up a lot of the other amazing health claims. I’ll just leave this at it’s good stuff!
  • Ground Flaxseeds- 2 Tbsp has 4 grams of protein.  Flaxseeds have an amino score of 92, so they are pretty close to the complete protein score!  Recent studies seem to point out that Flaxseeds may help prevent cancer.

Still need a little sweetener in your oats?

I recommend trying honey, agave nectar, stevia extract or even a dab of real maple syrup. They are all really sweet but won’t give you the huge sugar spike that cane sugar does. Best way to start is use a little, and then a little less each time. Teach those taste buds that the fruits are good enough.

My Favorite Bowl Mashups!

Approximately 10 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C old fashioned oats
  • 2 Tbsp Chia seeds (used 1/2 C extra water when cooking)
  • 3/4 C fresh fruit, strawberries and blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut

Cook the oatmeal and chia seeds and top with the remaining ingredients. I am obsessed with coconut! I think it’s probably my favorite flavor for everything treat related!

 

Approximately 16 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C old fashioned oats
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped up
  • Cinnamon to your liking
  • 1 oz of almonds
  • 2 Tbsp of Chia seeds (used 1/2 C extra water when cooking)

I like to throw my apples in when I add my oats and chia seeds because I like them a little softer. Once it’s ready to serve I stir in the cinnamon. Then I sprinkle the almonds on top and enjoy!

PS. Cinnamon all sorts of medicinal properties, check some of the benefits of use out here.

Approximately 20 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C frozen blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp Chia seeds (used 1/2 C extra water when cooking)
  • 3 Tbsp Hemp seeds

Cook oats and chia seeds, then stir in blueberries and half the hemp seeds. Place in cup and sprinkle top with the remaining hemp seeds. Food tastes better when it’s pretty right? Plus those blueberries add extra antioxidants, and those of course help fight cancer too!

Approximately 14 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C frozen raspberries
  • 2 Tbsp Chia seeds (used 1/2 C extra water when cooking)
  • 1 oz walnuts

Cook the oatmeal and chia seeds, then stir in the frozen raspberries and top with the walnuts. Just in case you were wondering this is Troy’s favorite way to have his oats. He loves raspberries.

Still not satisfied?

Don’t worry, you can mix and mash up any fruit you love.

Try:

  • Blackberries(now’s the time for fresh ones, YUM!)
  • Mangoes
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple, little bit of coconut and you’ve got a piña colada in a bowl!
  • Grapes, not too many because they are loaded with sugar.
  • No Sugar Added Applesauce

You name it, you can try it. It’s all about finding out what satisfies your pucker upper 🙂

 

 

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