Today is the first day of spring…YES! Warm weather is coming :). I’ve had a bit of a break from London’s rain down in Florida this past week at my family’s reunion. It’s been fun to see my parents, three brothers and their families. With me in London, two brothers in Toronto and one in Vancouver, it’s a treat when we all get together.
Today I want to share my favorite healthy (yes, I love my weekend bacon and eggs too) breakfast with you: OATMEAL.
Now, hold on! If the thought of oatmeal doesn’t excite you, I completely understand. But definitely read on – small tweaks can revolutionize this traditional stuff AND you can use the tips I’m sharing today with ANY breakfast option you love.
Oatmeal has held the coveted place as my favorite healthy breakfast for a long time for so many reasons. I grew up in Edmonton in Northern Canada and with -20 degree winters, a hot breakfast was practically a survival technique. Here are some other pluses with oats:
- It’s easy to make. Just add water and leave it to simmer for 10-15 minutes while you shower and get ready. Couldn’t be easier.
- You can dress it up a million different ways to stave off any food boredom. See below for tons of fresh ideas.
- Oatmeal (avena sativa) has incredible healing properties. It restores your nervous system, stabilizes your blood sugars and supports your cardiovascular system.
What Kind of Oatmeal To Get
If you really want the health benefits of oatmeal, skip any “instant” or “quick cooking” oatmeal. Instead, look for oatmeal that takes 10-20 minutes to cook. I takes longer for your body to digest to keep blood sugars steady.
How to Top Your Oatmeal (OR Other Favorite Breakfast)
The following tips go for cold cereal, oatmeal and yogurt or whatever your favorite base is.
Fiber slows down absorption of your oatmeal and evens out your blood sugar and bowel movements. Yes, oatmeal and packaged cereals already contain fiber, but not nearly enough to form the big giant sponge these toppings will. Try these out:
- Ground flax seeds (1-2 tablespoons)
- Chia seeds (1-2 tablespoons)
Oatmeal and most cereals contain a little protein, but not nearly enough to start your day.
Protein slows down the absorption of your breakfast, helps you feel full for longer, and avoid the sugar crash that inevitably leads to cravings for more sugar. Here are great options to choose from:
- Nuts – cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts. Look for raw unsalted nuts instead of roasted ones.
- Seeds – pumpkin, sesame, sunflower
- Hemp hearts (pictured here) – has a delicious nutty flavor. 3 tbsp = 10 grams of protein!
Some people love fruit on their oatmeal or cereal, some don’t. If you’re getting 1-2 pieces of fruit in during other times of the day, you may want to skip it here. I personally love to add berries and sometimes dried fruit for seasonal variety. Here are some possibilities:
- Apples, peaches and pears – try adding these in as you cook your oatmeal for flavor
- Berries – SO good for you and we’re right on the cusp of the season. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries…yum.
- Dried fruit – look for packaged dried fruits that are sulfite (preservative) and sugar free. It amazes me that dried fruits, already a form of concentrated sugar, are covered in liquid cane sugar most of the time.
Liquid helps cool down oats that are off the stove and helps it go down smoothly. Try these out to see what you like for flavor. If you eat lots of soy, rice or organic dairy in your diet, try hemp or almond milk for variety.
- Almond milk (unsweetened)
- Hemp milk
- Rice milk
- Soy milk
- Organic dairy milk
Are Oats Gluten Free?
Yes…and no. Oats are in themselves gluten free. But in North America wheat and oat processing overlap a lot of the time and oats end up tainted with wheat gluten.
In general, you can assume that oat products have gluten mixed in them by accident unless otherwise specified on the packaging. I personally buy Bob’s Red Mill gluten free oatmeal, which is a great option for celiacs and gluten sensitive folk like me.
When To Eat Your Super Healthy Breakfast
To avoid starting your day with a blood sugar crash that kicks off a roller coaster of moods and energy for the rest of your day, eat breakfast within 40 minutes of waking up.
Can You Eat Oatmeal in the Summer??
YES! You can eat it hot OR make up a 3 day batch, store it in your fridge and eat it cold.
Remember, the key to keeping oatmeal (and meals in general) fresh, is trying out new ways of doing it. Have tons of nuts, seeds, fiber and fruit on hand and mix it up everyday.
All the best,