I hope I’ve gotten your attention. I hope you didn’t skip over this post thinking, “Blech, I hate oatmeal it’s so gross” or wondering why anyone would be excited about oatmeal at all. I used to not be excited about oatmeal, too. Now we have it every Monday and Friday and even my kids are happy about it. Here’s the thing: these tips are game-changers because they turn your bowl of oatmeal from a flavorless mess of gluey slop into something that is actually full of flavor, delicious, and doesn’t even need brown sugar. (Although you can still put brown sugar on. I do. Along with a lot of other yummy things. Read on!)
toast your oats
This is a simple but really effective way to give some depth of flavor to the oats. When toasted, they take on a wonderfully warm, almost nutty flavor. I like to toast them in some butter for just a few minutes before I pour in the liquid, but you could also use any oil of preference or even just toast them dry. Be careful not too burn them! Burnt oats are NOT yum.
swap in some milk for your cooking liquid
Adding some milk to your cooking liquid makes the oatmeal delightfully creamy. I use half water, half milk. I find all milk is a little too much. Although I never have, I imagine using almond milk or coconut milk or some other alternative milk would work well and taste delicious.
throw in some salt
Salt is the single most important element of flavor. If I have learned anything in my years of baking and cooking, it is that salt, or the lack of it, makes or breaks a dish. Try a loaf of bread with salt and without. It’s really not the difference of salty-or-not, it’s the difference between flavorful and flavorless. Salt makes things taste more like themselves. So toss some salt into your cooking liquid, just a generous pinch, and taste oatmeal like you never have before.
some bonus tips
extra add ins. Try adding these to your oats as they cook for a little added flavor or texture: grated or chopped apple; mashed banana; chopped dates; coconut; chia/flax/hemp seeds; cinnamon/nutmeg; a splash of vanilla or other extract.
top it off. Toppings can make a bowl of oatmeal really fun and also more filling. In our house, we use any of the following: dried fruits, nut butters, coconut, brown sugar, sliced fresh fruits, a splash of cream, and chocolate chips. (If you’re raising your eyebrows at the chocolate chips: 1) people put chocolate chips in their pancakes, so… ; 2) it’s still way better than most cereals out there in terms of nutrition; 3) I defy you to find a child that won’t eat a bowl of oatmeal if you put even just three chocolate chips on it; 4) it’s delicious.)