Oatmeal is one of the great underrated foods for athletes, whether you’re a runner, a weightlifter, or just somebody who wants a filling breakfast before hitting the gym. If you want more whole grains or fibre in your diet, congrats — oats have plenty. If you need carbs to fuel you, oats come through there, as well. And if you want something that will satisfy you all morning, oats are particularly good at that.
And all of that is before you even consider what toppings to add. Oats are the perfect palette for adding more components: fats, proteins, and fruit all fit in beautifully, and the grain lends itself well to a variety of flavour profiles. Let’s dig in.
Carrot cake recovery oatmeal
Outside reports that Lucy Bartholomew eats this oatmeal after races. It calls for 1 cup of water, half a cup of oats, one grated carrot, and a tablespoon of maple syrup. After cooking, top it with 1/4 cup each chopped almonds and dates.
Savoury oatmeal with garlic and ginger
Oatmeal doesn’t have to be sweet. This recipe from Budget Bytes includes plenty of aromatics and mushrooms, and a suggestion to top it with sriracha or gochujang. They also recommend cooking the oats with Better than Bouillon for extra savoury flavour.
If savoury oatmeal appeals to you, why not take things a step further and make risoatto? (Ris-oat-to, get it?) This savoury dish from our own Claire Lower uses steel-cut oats instead of those flat rolled flakes, and once again we fill it with umami flavours. Parmesan cheese and soy sauce round out the recipe.
Cold pumpkin oats
This recipe from a comment in the r/running subreddit goes the opposite direction with pumpkin and sweet spices. Combine the following and refrigerate overnight:
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1/2 cup of low fat plain Greek yogurt
- about 80 grams of canned pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 cup oats
- Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
- 2 tsb chia seeds
Peanut butter and apples
The classic childhood snack is back, in oatmeal form. This one is a freeform idea from the Eat Cheap and Healthy subreddit: add peanut butter and a chopped Granny Smith apple to your oatmeal. The apple gets cooked when you microwave the oatmeal, and then you can add a drizzle of honey for sweetness.
Oatmeal with whey powder
Protein powder may seem like the perfect way to add some easy protein to your oatmeal, but give this some thought before you just go dumping it in. The texture suffers if you mix in the whey powder before cooking, so follow a recipe like this one that calls for the powder to be mixed in after cooking. The other ingredients like maple syrup can be added before or after cooking, but it’s often most convenient to add them afterwards.
Oatmeal with egg whites
If you don’t want to use protein powder, another popular way to add protein to oatmeal is with egg whites (the kind you buy in a carton). This recipe from Eat Cheap and Healthy gives the technique: you cook the oatmeal in a pot, remove from heat to whisk in the egg whites, then return to the stove to continue stirring until the mixture is creamy. I haven’t tried this one, but people who eat this type of oatmeal swear that you can’t taste the egg whites. You can also microwave the oats, and whisk in the egg whites immediately afterward, while the oats are still piping hot. For flavour: Cap it off with a rich and delicious egg yolk. It won’t add much protein, but it will taste very good.
You don’t have to limit yourself to making oatmeal in the microwave or on the stovetop. Big-batch oatmeal can be made in a baking pan, and then scooped out hot or sliced into squares when cold. Try this recipe for starters, and tinker with the flavours and nutritional components as desired.
Fried oatmeal squares
After you’ve baked your oatmeal — plain or otherwise — consider frying up squares of it the next day. This recipe from our own Allie Chanthorn Reinmann adds butter in the frying, and recommends that you press shredded parmesan cheese into the surface as well. This would be great with plain oats or a savoury recipe, but go ahead and try it with your favourite oats (maybe with apples and honey?) if you like a sweet-and-savoury combo.
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