Pictured Recipe: Chocolate Banana Oatmeal
Oatmeal is as close to perfect as you can get for a breakfast food. It's a whole food with one ingredient—oats. A hearty bowl gives you energy to power through your morning, fills you up with complex "good" carbohydrates, can be prepped the night before (lifesaving for busy mornings), takes on a variety of toppings and flavors, and is pretty darn cheap. Not to mention, oatmeal fits into a variety of diets and eating patterns, whether you're vegan, gluten-free, trying to lose weight or eating to manage diabetes or heart disease. What more could you want from a breakfast food? Read on to find out even more reasons why oatmeal is No. 1 in our book.
Mornings are busy, so for a breakfast food to be the best, it needs to be fast. Cook up a pot of oats and portion them out for a few different mornings. Or use quick-cooking oats for breakfast in less than 5 minutes. Save even more time in the morning by making overnight oats in mason jars to grab and go on your way out the door. Totally in a bind? Buy plain instant oatmeal or look for flavored varieties (with no more than 9 grams of sugar per serving) to stash in your kitchen cabinet or desk drawer.
Pictured Recipe: Fig & Ricotta Oatmeal
There are 4 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup of dry oats. Fiber helps reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, helps you feel full for longer, can help you lose weight and maintain your weight, keeps your gut healthy and helps you poop. Despite all these benefits, most of us aren't getting enough fiber. Women should aim for at least 25 grams of fiber a day; men need at least 38 grams. Add fruit and nuts to your oatmeal for even more of a fiber boost in the morning.
Oatmeal is a whole-grain powerhouse. The fiber makes you feel fuller longer, so if you tend to find yourself constantly snacking through the morning or reaching for "second breakfast" right when you finish your first, you'll likely find that oats keep you better satisfied. No need to fear carbs at breakfast. Complex carbohydrates, like oats, take longer for your body to digest. They don't cause the same swings in blood sugars as simple carbs like white bread or sugar. Plus, oats deliver nutrients like magnesium and phosphorus.
Starting your day with a hearty and healthy breakfast sets your tone for the day. Because the fiber in oats keeps you full, you're less likely to eat more in the morning. Regular breakfast eaters tend to be leaner and more successful at losing weight—and keeping it off—when they eat breakfast. Just watch out for sugary flavored varieties, and consider pairing your oatmeal with some protein. Topping oatmeal with protein like nuts, nut butter, a dollop of ricotta or Greek yogurt or even an egg on top will also help you stay satisfied for longer.
Pictured Recipe: Breakfast Blueberry-Oatmeal Cakes
Oatmeal can be prepared in a variety of ways to suit your needs and flavor cravings.
Vegan: Skip cow's milk and prepare oats with almond milk, soymilk or another nondairy milk for a vegan and dairy-free breakfast. You can also use water to make your oatmeal.
Gluten-Free: Oats themselves are gluten-free, but they're often cross-contaminated with wheat or barley. Be sure to look for oats labeled gluten-free if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Savory: Don't limit yourself to sweet and fruity toppings. Try an egg and hot sauce, or go for Savory Curry Cashew Oatmeal.
Granola Bars: Make your own granola bars or energy bars with oats for another healthy on-the-go breakfast or snack. Try these Peanut Butter, Blueberry & Oat Energy Squares or one of our best homemade granola bar recipes.