The Right Way to Prepare Oatmeal and 5 Tips for Making It Better

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Use these simple tricks to make the world’s healthiest breakfast even better.

Oatmeal is one of the healthiest breakfasts. It's high in soluble fiber, which may help to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and helps keep you feeling full longer. It has a healthy amount of protein, which, in conjunction with fiber, will help you feel satisfied too. Plus oatmeal is a low-glycemic-index (GI) food—and research suggests that eating a low-GI meal before you exercise may help you burn more fat.

Oatmeal is an ideal breakfast for the cooler months. And if you're going to enjoy it every day, make it as tasty and healthy as possible. Here are 5 tips for the best bowl of oatmeal:

Matthew Thompson, Associate Food Editor

1. Use Steel-Cut Oats

Yes, they take a lot longer to cook than quick-cooking oats or old-fashioned "rolled oats," but, they are worth it. The texture of steel-cut oatmeal it delicious, creamy and chewy at the same time. Most instant oatmeals in packets have added sugars. If you add any sweeteners at home, you can control how much and what kind.

2. Pay Attention To The Water-To-Oat Ratio

Pay attention to the instructions on the side of your oatmeal container and do what they say to avoid a pasty, sticky mess or a soupy mush. For steel-cut oats, the ratio is 1 cup of water per 1/4 cup of oats. If you are using quick-cooking or rolled oats the ratio is 1 cup of water per 1/2 cup of oats.

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3. Think Beyond Water (Use Milk Or Juice)

For a boost of calcium and creamy flavor, make oatmeal with low-fat milk instead of water. Or, try making it with apple cider instead. When cooking this way, the ratio of liquid to oats stays the same, so it should be an easy switch to make. Once you've tried oatmeal with a hit of flavor infused into the cooking, you'll never go back.

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4. Design Your Own Flavors

Add-ins make any oatmeal better-tasting, but they also make it more nutritious. Topping oatmeal with your favorite fruit adds more fiber and nuts add healthy fats and make it more filling too. Here's are some healthy oatmeal add-ins:

• Add a fruit:
? Dried fruit (such as raisins, cranberries, cherries or chopped apricots or dates)
? Fresh or frozen berries
? Applesauce
? Jam or preserves
? Chopped or sliced fresh fruit (such as bananas or apples)

• Add nuts and seeds (toast nuts to bring out their flavor):
? Almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios or peanuts
? Sesame seeds, ground flaxseeds or chia seeds

• Add just a little bit of sweetener:
? Maple syrup
? Brown sugar
? Honey

• Season with spices:
? Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or cardamom

• Top with dairy:
? Add more calcium by topping with a little bit of yogurt or milk

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Pictured Recipe: Oatmeal-Rhubarb Porridge

5. Make It Ahead

What's better than having delicious, comforting oatmeal in the morning? How about having it premade and waiting to be eaten! Make a big batch of steel-cut oats (seasoned with your favorite add-ins) on a Sunday and then keep it in your fridge. Each morning, simply spoon up a serving's worth in a microwave-safe bowl, add a tablespoon or two of water and then microwave until hot (1-2 minutes). It's a simple, tasty way to have your favorite breakfast ready and waiting any day of the week.

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