Fall has finally come to our neck of the woods. Which means that Essie and I are back to eating oatmeal most mornings for breakfast. If you think oatmeal is too fussy for a quick weekday breakfast, think again.
Not only is oatmeal extremely filling and satisfying, but it’s also super-healthy when you make it from scratch. And it really doesn’t take more than 5 minutes (often less) to whip up a quick bowl for a healthy breakfast!
In this post, I’m going to share with you some of the ways we’ve hacked this healthy breakfast into something that’s also quick, plus some of our best morning oatmeal recipes.
Oatmeal For Breakfast Made Easy
There are three basic ways I know of to have HEALTHY homemade oatmeal for breakfast in just minutes:
- Use quick oats and your microwave;
- Make overnight oats the night before; OR
- Make a batch over the weekend in your slow cooker or oven, then reheat all week.
We tend to go with the first option. It really is SO easy, easier than you might think. It takes barely any longer than heating the water for a package of flavored instant oatmeal and mixing that up, but is SO much healthier! (Not to mention more filling!)
For more on options #2-3, stay tuned for follow-up posts!
Basic Microwave Oatmeal Recipes
Essie’s basic version:
1/2 cup quick oats
- 1/2 cup milk (we use 2%, but any will do) (Yes, you could use water – or your favorite non-dairy product, whether soy or coconut or rice or whatever. But I figure this is an easy opportunity to sneak some extra calcium and protein into my growing girl at the start of the day!)
- A little sweetener (stevia, honey, brown sugar, agave nectar, or maple syrup – a little drizzle over the top is plenty)
- 1 Tablespoon chopped nuts (we buy these in bulk, usually pre-chopped: walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc.)
- 1 Tablespoon each of 1-3 dried fruit toppings (raisins, chopped dates, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried blueberries, dried chopped apples, dried cut-up apricots)
Pretty much every morning now, I take out a large microwave-proof bowl, fill it with 1/2 cup quick oats, 1/2 c. milk, plus 2-4T toppings, and microwave it for a minute. (Putting an extra plate underneath protects against boil-over messes.)
I then check it; occasionally it might need another 30 seconds, but usually if I just stir it, let it sit for a minute, then add more (cold) milk so it’s not too hot to eat, that’s it. That is the basic healthy oatmeal recipe at the heart of Essie’s breakfast these days, after her fruit course.
If you like runnier oatmeal, you’ll want to add 3/4 c or even 1 c milk. But watch it carefully in the microwave, as it’s more likely to boil over.
My basic version:
- 1/2 cup quick oats
- 1/2 cup milk
- A little sweetener (optional, and depends on how sweet the fruit is)
- 2T chopped nuts (usually almonds)
- 1/2-1c. fresh fruit. My favorite is a fresh peach cut up, but I’ll also use (depending on what we have) a pear, blueberries, raspberries, or cut-up strawberries. If the fruit is super-sweet, you can often get away without extra sweetener.
Because my oatmeal has more fruit, I usually have to cook it for closer to 2 minutes total.
- Sometimes instead of dried or fresh fruit, we’ll use frozen berries, either from our large basement freezer (where we store extra summer berries from our garden and my mama’s garden), or purchased in bulk from Costco.
- Occasionally some dried unsweetened coconut or semi-sweet chocolate chips, along with maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon or a little pumpkin pie spice.
- Did you know that cooked pumpkin and cooked orange squashes are interchangeable in recipes? As soon as I make my pumpkin dip, or some baked squash for dinner one of these nights, I’ll try adding 2T of one of these before cooking, instead of the other fruit.
Our Best Morning Oatmeal Recipes
We have three new favorite hacks that make quick oats in the morning even easier AND yummier:
“Baked Apple” Oatmeal
Longtime readers will recall that I LOVE making ten-minute “baked” apples on school mornings. If I only have big apples and one interested kid, I’ll cook the whole apple, and put half in the refrigerator for another morning.
On one recent morning, after I’d put the 1/2 cup quick oats and 1/2 cup milk in Essie’s bowl, I just dumped on the leftover baked apple, juices and all. She LOVED it, and requested it again for several more mornings to come! (This also works if you have leftovers from my old-fashioned baked apple recipe.)
“Trail Mix” Oatmeal:
On another recent morning when I was running behind, I got a new idea for hacking oatmeal that Essie also loved. I had a small container of leftover trail mix on the counter, containing maybe 1/4 cup trail mix at best.
Instead of scooping out all the different toppings that Essie usually likes on her oatmeal, I just dumped the whole container of trail mix – pecans, raisins, dried cranberries, and butterscotch chips – into Essie’s bowl along with the 1/2 cup quick oats and 1/2 cup milk. She LOVED it!
We have one problem with bananas in our house: We all like them slightly underripe. As soon as they start to get brown spots, none of us wants to eat them. So into the freezer they go, for future banana bread. But you can only freeze so many bananas before they take over your whole freezer.
So instead, I’ve tried topping my 1/2 cup quick oats and 1/2 cup milk with an overripe banana, cut into chunks and stirred in. Then, under the guise of adding healthy fats to my diet (but let’s face it, it’s also just plain yummy), I’ll add 1-2 T of semi-sweet chocolate chips. The banana and chocolate are so sweet, you don’t need any extra sweetener!
Do you microwave quick oats for a hearty, fast weekday breakfast? What are your favorite add-ins? Let us know in the comments!