Oatmeal is an all-time breakfast favorite and is usually eaten as a hot cereal, but it can also be prepared and served cold. This method transforms oatmeal and other grains into a quick and on-the-go breakfast food in the form of healthy oatmeal and grain bowls.
Oatmeal is best known for being full of fiber and has been marketed as lowering cholesterol. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber which is known to lower LDL or the “bad” cholesterol by preventing the absorption of cholesterol. Excess cholesterol contributes to a higher level of LDL in the blood which over time can lead to cardiovascular disease. Eating more fiber also helps with weight loss as it makes you feel full faster and increases satiety for a longer period of time.
Oatmeal is available in three different forms: quick oats, regular oats and steel-cut oats. In addition, to oatmeal I like to use quinoa as a breakfast option as well. Both are easy to prepare and hold well in these parfaits, therefore making them great to prepare ahead of time and for transporting on the go.
My favorite grains grains to use
“Quick” Oatmeal – I’m talking about the fast cooking oatmeal that you can buy in the store. These are the most processed of all the oats you can buy but still good for you, and they do work well when time is of the most importance.
Steel Cut Oats – These are my favorite oats mainly because of the texture – they have more “bite” than other cooked forms of oats. The down side is that they require preparation ahead of time since they require 45 minutes to cook. However, you can cook a batch on Sunday, throw them in the refrigerator and use them throughout the week to make a different grain bowl each morning.
Quinoa – Another one of my favorites. This grain (which technically isn’t a grain, it’s actually a seed) packs a protein punch!!! Just one cup of this grain provides 8.1 grams of protein. It does require being cooked ahead just like the steel cut oats but you can prepare a batch of quinoa the night before in 10 minutes.
My favorite items to mix in
Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium. Eating one cup of Greek yogurt will provide you with 18 grams of protein and 25% of the required calcium for the day. The nutrition for the recipes below is based on using 2% fat yogurt but you can easily use 0% fat to decrease the amount of fat and calories. I prefer plain, unsweetened 2% Greek yogurt for the texture and flavor. Also, I choose to not use flavored Greek yogurt because of the added sugars and overly sweet flavor. If you tend to like things a little sweeter you can certainly add a ½-1 tsp of honey or agave syrup to any of these recipes.
Berries are one of the most popular fruits and are antioxidant powerhouses. You can use fresh or frozen depending on the season. When I use frozen berries, I like to mix them in when they are still a little frozen. In addition, they are generally sweet so it isn’t necessary to add any additional sweetener.
Chia adds some texture to the oats and is also a source of protein and omega-3 fat. The chia swells up when added to liquid, and in my opinion it makes the oat mixture a bit creamier. Eating one tablespoon (approx. .5 oz) of chia provides 2.3 grams of protein and is also a source of Omega-3 fatty acid, one of the essential fatty acids, meaning we need to eat it since our body can’t make it.
Almonds and walnuts add a bit of crunch as well as provide protein, some fiber and healthy fats. Adding one tablespoon of almonds provides 2 grams of protein and provides monosaturated fat, a healthier form of fat to consume. One tablespoon of walnuts contributes 1.3 grams of protein but is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Just be careful with the nuts because they are high in calories and if you are trying to lose or maintain weight you don’t want to overdo it.
Bananas – Bananas are one of my favorite fruits to add to smoothies and parfaits because they are naturally creamy and sweet. Also, bananas are an excellent source of potassium.
Almond, Soy or Coconut Milk are my preference for adding milk to smoothies, parfaits and cereal. I like the flavor and I prefer not to drink animal milk because for me, there are bad side-effects. You can certainly replace any of the plant-based milks I recommend with your choice of dairy.
You can make these recipes into jars for easy transport or if eating at home, they work just as well in a bowl. All work fine to make the night before or to assemble quickly in the morning before leaving the house. I have also discovered they make an excellent afternoon snack as well.
Here are four of my favorites to make during the work week.
Quick Oats and Chia with Mixed Berries
Quick and easy to make in the morning and carry with you to work or school.
- 2/3 cup quick oats, dry
- 2 T chia seeds
- 1 1/2 cup soy or almond milk
- 1 cup mixed berries, frozen
- Step 1 Place quick oats and chia into jar or container. Add milk. Seal with lid and shake well to combine. Allow to sit in refrigerator for 45 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Oats and chia will soak up the milk while they are sitting. When ready, separate into 2 bowls, top with semi-frozen mixed berries.
NOTE: This recipe is perfect to combine the oats, chia and milk the night before so that it’s ready to just grab in the morning as you head out the door.
Classic Steel Cut Oat and Yogurt Parfait
- 1 cup 2% plain, greek yogurt
- 1 cup steel cut oats, cooked and chilled
- 1 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
- 2 T chopped almonds
- Step 1 Place ¼ cup of cooked oatmeal in the bottom of the jar. Top with half the strawberries and with ¼ cup of yogurt. Repeat the entire layering process again with the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle the top with the chopped almonds.
NOTE: I recommend cooking the oats the day or night before, and allowing them to cool overnight. That way when you are ready the grain bowl can be prepared quickly.
Chocolate Oats with Raspberries
Chocolate and raspberries create a perfect combination in this healthy grain bowl
- 2/3 cup quick oats, dry
- 1 1/2 cup soy or almond milk
- 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp honey or agave syrup
- 1 T cacao nibs
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- Step 1 Combine quick oats, almond milk, cocoa powder and honey into container or jar. Shake well to combine. Allow to sit for 45 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. When ready, place into bowls and top with cacoa nibs and raspberries.
NOTE: The first step of this recipe can be done the night before so that the oat jar is ready to grab on your way out the door in the morning.
Banana Nut Quinoa
Quinoa adds a protein punch to this healthy and easy to assemble grain bowl.
- 1/2 cup quinoa, dry cook ahead of time and chill
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 whole banana, sliced
- 2 T walnuts, chopped
- Step 1 Combine the quinoa and milk into a small pan. Heat at medium temperature until boiling, then reduce heat and cook until all the liquid is absorbed (about 10 minutes). Stir in the cinnamon and allow quinoa to cool, preferably overnight. Layer quinoa with the bananas in a bowl or jar. Top with chopped walnuts.