Wondering how you can transform a bowl of bland oatmeal into a delicious, must-have morning meal? Today I’m sharing healthy ways to sweeten oatmeal + a few favorite recipes!
Some people call me the queen of oatmeal!
If you’ve been a KERF reader for some time, you ought to know that oatmeal is a KERF staple. For years, I shared my morning oatmeal creations. I’ve consumed a lot of oatmeal over the years. It is truly one of my favorite breakfasts.
I can always depend on having a huge canister of (affordable) oats in our pantry. Rolled oats, quick oats, steel cut oats, I don’t discriminate. They are all delicious in my book and full of heart-healthy fiber.
When I use different types of oats
- I like to use instant oats for instant overnight oats, tossing into smoothies, or quick microwave oatmeal for Birch.
- I use old fashioned rolled oats for stove-top oatmeal and homemade granola.
- And I use steel cut oatmeal when I’m making a big batch of oats in the rice cooker! Breakfast will be ready at 6:30 am (This is the one I’ve had for over a decade.)
Packets of instant oatmeal can be convenient when you’re in a pinch or traveling, and there are some really good wholesome, lower-sugar ones out there. But you gotta check the ingredients list because they’re often loaded with added sugar and even artificial sweeteners – not something I want to consume regularly.
How to make oatmeal more satisfying
While homemade oatmeal does take a minute more to prepare, it’s worth it because it’s so much tastier and more satisfying.
Back in 2008, when this blog was very young, I discovered how much I loved the “stick to your ribs” satisfaction that a bowl of oatmeal gave me. A bowl of oatmeal with complex carbohydrates, fat, and protein can hold me over for hours!
I like to make mine with whole milk for staying power from protein and fat, and I add on or mix in other macros like nut butter for fat, banana and pumpkin for fiber, cottage cheese for protein.
What Does Oatmeal Taste Like?
Oatmeal tastes a bit bland on its own, but as I’ve shown over the years, it’s a really fantastic blank canvas for serving up in infinite ways.
Morning oatmeal does not have to be your grandmother’s bowl of mush made with plain water, butter, and a few spoonfuls of brown sugar. Sweetening your oatmeal can be creative and healthy, providing you with balanced macronutrients to start your day.
Today I’m sharing healthy ways to sweeten oatmeal + a few favorite recipes!
8 Healthy Ways To Sweeten Oatmeal
Banana is my favorite way to sweeten oatmeal. Naturally ripe bananas not only add the perfect sweetness, but add extra fiber and potassium as well.
I serendipitously discovered that thinly sliced ripe banana took the texture and flavor of oatmeal to the next level and have been making oats with banana ever since! My Classic Whipped Banana Oatmeal Recipe will always be the best oatmeal base – watch me make it here in this video (circa 2008!).
2. Nut Butter
Adding a scoop of creamy nut butter is now a non-negotiable as it adds healthy fats and protein and increases satiety! While (hopefully) nut butters are not hiding sneaky sugars, I am a big fan of adding a big scoop of peanut butter or almond butter as the last topping for an extra layer of flavor. If you choose a nut or seed butter that is either naturally sweet (like sunflower butter) or made with ingredients like vanilla or cinnamon, it makes your bowl feel sweeter without any added sugar.
You can even make it yourself so you control the sugar content – like my Cinnamon Vanilla Almond Butter.
3. Flavored Nuts & Seeds
Both nuts and seeds are a delicious way to add crunch, healthy fats, and flavor to oatmeal. And using flavored ones like candied pecans or holiday spiced walnuts adds a little sweetness and sugar along with a lot of fat and flavor. From honey roasted chopped almonds and peanuts to candied pecans and walnuts to chocolate covered sunflower seeds, try adding a sprinkle to your bowl of oats.
4. Dried Fruit
Raisins are a classic oatmeal mix-in, but if raisins aren’t your thing, try chopped dried apricots with coconut or dried cherries with almonds. Cranberries and currants also make great dried fruit additions.
Especially in the summer months, I love adding fresh berries to my oatmeal. Frozen berries are also a great year-round option. Full of antioxidants and natural sugars, berries are one of the best ways to sweeten oatmeal. Try my Strawberries ‘n Cream Oatmeal recipe (which can be made with plant-based milks, too)!
6. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is one of my favorite liquid sweeteners. Pure maple syrup is not only high in antioxidants, but every spoonful offers nutrients like riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. I love specialty flavors like bourbon maple or cinnamon spiced.
Dates are very sweet and have a subtle caramel-like taste. They make a great healthy substitute for sugar in recipes due to the nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants that they provide. Try topping your oatmeal with chewy, chopped Medjool dates and toasted coconut – mmm! Or you can use them to make a date caramel sauce like this!
From apple butter and pumpkin butter in the fall to strawberry basil jam in the summertime, I drizzle of jam stirred into oatmeal is a perfect sweet addition. Just like when making nut butters, if you make jam yourself, like chia jam, you can control the sugar. Or just use a little of your favorite store-bought variety.
While in general I try to make my granola on the low end of the sweetness spectrum, sometimes you gotta caramelize it! And boy oh boy does that granola make a great topping for yogurt and oatmeal. Highly recommend that recipe!
Good ole honey! Sugar gets a bad rap, but I don’t see anything wrong with adding a teaspoon of natural honey to tea or on top of oats! Studies have shown that honey is honey is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial agent. This yerba mate oatmeal with pistachios and coconut reminds me of baklava, and the drizzle of sticky honey at the end is the best part.
Oatmeal Flavor Combinations
- Peanut Butter & Jelly – add a scoop of your favorite peanut butter and jam
- Pumpkin & Pecan – stir in a large spoonful of pumpkin puree and top with toasted pecans
- Banana & Peanut Butter – whipped banana oatmeal with homemade peanut butter – you can never go wrong here!
- Cherry & Coconut – either frozen or dried cherries with toasted coconut
Do you have a favorite way to sweeten your oats?
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