11 Ways to Eat Oats When You Hate Oatmeal
I went a long stretch of time without eating any oats if I could avoid it. I blame it on oatmeal — or rather, the pre-packaged instant oatmeal that I had foraged from my mom's pantry once. The goopy, pale mush tasted like something between cardboard and sawdust.
Sure, the fact that I couldn't boil water without some kind of kitchen mishap (don't ask) could've had something to do with it…but that was years ago! I'm proud to say that I've learned a few tricks since then — including how to add oats to my diet without relying on oatmeal.
You see, oats are amazing. They're packed with fiber, protein, and vitamins, and contain an antioxidant unique to oats that reduce the risk of heart disease. The health benefits of oats go on and on, and the best part is, even the more processed oats — like instant oatmeal — retain about the same amount of nutrients as the least-processed steel-cut oats (although additional ingredients can make it less healthy).
All oats start off as oat groats, which are then processed at varying levels to get steel-cut, rolled, old-fashioned, quick-cooking, or instant oats. The texture, density, and cooking time of each will be different, so be sure to adjust your recipe accordingly if you're substituting one kind of oat for another.
1. Oats in Bread
I love bread — pretty much every kind. So if you add oats in bread, I'd love that too. The possibilities are endless when it comes to oats in bread, but one of my favorites is oat soda bread. While this particular recipe calls for homemade oat flour (just dump the oats in a food processor and pulse), I like to keep the oats whole for the hearty texture. Blueberry oat quick bread is another fast-baking, no-fuss bread.
(More oat-and-blueberry options to come, because it's almost blueberry season, and I love blueberries. If you're not a fan, just replace it with another kind of berry.)
These quick breads are denser than yeast breads, so if you prefer something light and fluffy (though I should warn you, yeast breads take more time and work), try birdseed bread.
2. Oats in Other Baked Goodies
Oatmeal cookies are yummy as they are, but chewy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are truly something special. It's right up there with oat and maple syrup scones (such buttery goodness!) and banana oat muffins. No brunch is complete without muffins. And scones. And cookies.
3. Blended Oats
When it comes to adding oats to your food, it doesn't get any easier than a smoothie. Just add everything in your blender and GO! At my house, we like a bit of milk, some rolled oats, and whatever fresh fruits are lying around — currently, that's bananas. And I must say, a banana oat smoothie is an excellent way to start the day.
Besides a smoothie, you can also make oat milk in a blender. It's a quick and cheap way to get a nut-free milk alternative, and adjusting the milk to your taste is easy peasy. However, this recipe does call for pouring hot water into the blender container (although I've seen others out there that don't), so be very, very careful.
4. Raw Oats
Muesli is a traditional Swiss cereal that's basically a mix of uncooked rolled oats and dried fruits and nuts. Today, you can buy it in packaged form, but why bother when muesli is so easy to make? You can change it up any way you like — toasted oat and coconut muesli? Yes. You can soak it with milk overnight (which makes it easier to digest), or not — just mix before serving. Or mix it with fruit juice, which some argue is the correct way to enjoy muesli. Or top it with yogurt. Take your pick…and change it up every morning!
5. Oats With Fruits
Need a fun, healthy snack for kids — and adults? Apple sandwiches with honeyed peanut butter, oats, and raisins are easy to put together and even easier to adapt to suit any food allergies or taste preferences. If you can't get enough of the oats and apples combo, be sure to try Waldorf salad with steel-cut oats.
6. Oats Cooked With Vegetables
Don't make the mistake of limiting oats to breads and breakfast foods. Use oats and oat bran for the crust of a mushroom and spinach quiche. Crunchy + Creamy = YUM.
And OK, sure, quiche is sort of a breakfast food, but let's not dwell on that because I want to introduce you to steel-cut oat risotto with butternut squash and mushroom. Didn't think oats could be this savory and delicious, huh? (I sure didn't!)
7. Oats Cooked With Meat
Considering the nutty crunchiness of raw oats, of course you can use it to bread chicken. Oatmeal-crusted chicken tenders are a great to include in any frugal meal plan, but don't forget turkey and oat burgers when you whip out the grill this summer.
Oh, you can make meatloaf with oats, too? (Again — of course you can.)
8. Oats for Dessert
Are you ready for no bake chocolate oat bars? I know I am! You won't need an oven for these bars — simply melt the ingredients, mix them up, and refrigerate until it all sets. If you have 45 minutes to devote to stirring oatmeal (just stick with me here; it'll be worth it), give oatmeal brulée a whirl! Topped with fresh berries and nuts, this dessert is sure to impress your taste buds. Or try roasted blueberry coconut quinoa parfait with coconut granola. There's so much flavor and texture, it's a miracle anyone can stop at only one parfait.
9. Oats Between Meals
Speaking of granola, here's another food you never have to buy again. Homemade granola is nutritious, delicious, and frugalicious. Eat it as is, or like a cereal, or in a parfait (see above), or sprinkle it over home-baked goodies (see farther above). On its own, granola is a filling snack to tide you over until the next meal, and it's easy to carry when you're on the go.
Need another snacking option? Try these no bake oatmeal peanut butter bites. I know sharing is caring, but it wouldn't hurt to reserve a few before you announce they're ready for eatin'. Just in case.
10. Oats for Happy Hour
11. Finally, Oats as Oatmeal, but Better
I know, the point is to avoid oatmeal…but I believe in second chances, especially when it comes to food. Oatmeal can change!
For example, steel-cut oatmeal is denser and chewier than run-of-the-mill quick oats, and has a nutty punch to it. On the liquid front, switch out water for the milk of your choice. I'm partial to soy, but almond milk tastes great, too — you can't go wrong with blueberry-almond oatmeal. (Unless you're, um, allergic to almonds. Don't use almonds or almond milk if you're allergic to almonds.)
If changing up the ingredients isn't enough to make you pro-oatmeal, you can also try other cooking methods. Baked oatmeal is sure to put the wow factor in any brunch spread, while stir fried oatmeal is an "easy one-pan hot breakfast" that's super versatile to boot. And if you're like me, the easier it is to make something, the tastier it seems to be — which makes slow-cooked oatmeal simply delicious!
Now, if (for some bizarre reason) you have leftover cooked oats, finish it off with fried oatmeal wedges. You read that correctly. Fried. Oatmeal.
Didn't I say that oats are amazing?