If you’re looking for ways to add more whole grains to your diet, eating oatmeal for breakfast is a great place to start. Oats are cheap and easy to prepare and when done right, they are delicious. A bowl of oatmeal will keep you satisfied longer and won’t cause the blood sugar rush that so many sweetened cereals do.
Oatmeal is so much more than a tasty, warming breakfast meal. Oats are naturally high in fiber, which helps keep blood-sugar levels stable and naturally lower cholesterol and rich in minerals like magnesium, antioxidants and B vitamins, which are essential for converting carbohydrates into energy.
Types of Oatmeal
There are several different types of oatmeal you can choose from:
Rolled Oats or Old-Fashioned Oats: are oats that have been rolled and flattened into flakes so they cook in just 5 to 10 minutes. Though I love a morning bowl of oatmeal, my favorite way use old-fashioned oats are in sweet baked treats like these banana oatmeal cookies and low fat chocolate chip oatmeal cookie bars.
Quick Cooking or Minute Oats: are rolled oats that are chopped into smaller pieces so they cook in about 1 minute. They also are a great replacement for bread crumbs in recipes like this yummy Paula Deen meatloaf.
Instant Oats: are oats that have been rolled even thinner and finer so they cook in seconds. They are usually pre-flavored and full of sugar, so they’re not the best choice when you want to eat healthier and lose weight. Look for a low sugar variety for when you are pressed for time.
Steel Cut Oats: are also known as Irish oatmeal or Scottish oats. They have been cut into pieces instead of rolled and have a hearty, nutty taste and texture, but take longer to cook – about 30 minutes. You can shorten the cooking time to 5 to 10 minutes by soaking them overnight.
I’ve always liked oatmeal, but have really come to love it now that I’ve discovered steel cut oats. They have a much chewier, nuttier flavor that is satisfying and delicious. The only downside is that they take about 30 minutes to cook, which can be difficult to deal with on a busy weekday morning.
For more about the different kinds of oats here’s a great Oatmeal 101 video from Dani Spies:
But there are ways to solve the long cooking time issue. Here are three things you can do.
How to Cook Oatmeal in the Microwave, in the Slow Cooker and on the Stove
Quick & Easy Ways to Cook Steel Cut Oats
- Cook up a big batch during the weekend and then store them in the fridge for re-heat during the week.
- Cook them overnight in your slow cooker.
- Soak them overnight so that your cooking time is reduced to just 5 minutes.
Quick Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal Recipe
To make 4 servings of overnight oatmeal, place 4 cups water and 1 cup steel cut oats in a medium saucepan and set it aside to soak overnight. When you’re ready to cook, add 1/4 teaspoon salt and place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes. Cover, turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Then serve with your favorite slim & healthy toppings and milk if desired. Each serving has about 160 calories and 4 WW PointsPlus Value.
Basic Stove Top Oatmeal Recipe
To make 2 servings of old-fashioned oatmeal, combine 2-1/4 cups water, 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats and a dash of salt in a small saucepan set over high heat. When the water boils, turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring until the water is just absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add a little butter to taste, if desired, cover the pan, turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Uncover and stir then stir in any other ingredients you desire and serve. Each serving has 160 calories and 4 WW PointsPlus Value.
Here’s a video from KathEats showing how she makes her creamy banana stovetop oatmeal:
Cooking Notes: This recipe makes a fairly creamy oatmeal. If you like your oatmeal thicker, use a little less water. In addition to oats, you can cook any kind of rolled or flaked grain this way. If your oatmeal’s thicker than you’d like, which can happen as it sits in the refrigerator, a tasty way to thin it out is with a little skim milk, non-dairy milk substitute or thick, creamy Greek yogurt.
Microwave Creamy Oatmeal with Peanut Butter Recipe
For a single serving, in a microwave-safe bowl, stir together 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats, 1/2 cup water and 1/8 teaspoon salt. (Don’t worry, precise measuring isn’t required, you just need to use approximately twice as much water as oats.) Cook on high for 1 minute, then stir well. Cook on high for 30 seconds, and stir again. Repeat in 15-second increments until your oatmeal is cooked the way you like it and water fully absorbed. Stir in 1 tablespoon peanut butter and serve. When made with regular peanut butter each serving has 169 calories, 9 g fat, 17 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 7 g protein and 5 WW PointsPlus Value.
Slim & Healthy Oatmeal Toppings and Stir-Ins:
Oatmeal is like a blank canvas to which you can add all kinds of healthy and delicious ingredients. Here’s a list of wholesome additions worth considering:
- Ground spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, or anise
- Dried fruit, chopped if necessary, such as raisins, dried cranberries, apricots, figs, dates, pineapple, or pears
- Chopped nuts, like walnuts, pecans, or almonds
- Seeds, like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Fresh fruit, chopped or sliced as necessary, such as apples, bananas, strawberries, apricots, peaches, blueberries, cherries or raspberries
- Jam, jelly, marmalade or preserves. Strawberry, raspberry and apricot are personal favorites.
- Shredded coconut
- Grated cheese
- Chopped hard boiled egg
- Poached egg
- Brown sugar
- Maple syrup
- Nut butter such as peanut butter or nut butter
- Milk or nondairy milk
- Pumpkin puree (This is best added during cooking.)
100 Calorie Oatmeal Toppings
If you’re watching your calories, here are some examples of 100 calorie topping you can add to your morning bowl of oatmeal. And don’t forget that with the Weight Watcher’s Points Plus Program any fresh or frozen unsweetened fruit you add has 0 points!
- Molasses: 1 teaspoon
- Maple syrup: 2 teaspoons
- Strawberry jam: 1 tablespoon
- Dried cherries, apricots or figs: 1 tablespoon
- Walnuts: 1 tablespoon chopped
- Almonds: 1 tablespoon sliced
- Cashews: 1 tablespoon chopped
- Creamy peanut butter: 1 tablespoon
- Toasted coconut: 1 tablespoon
- Chocolate syrup: 1 tablespoon
- Chopped or shredded apples, Craisins, walnuts, cinnamon and brown sugar
- Sliced bananas, walnuts and maple syrup
- Peanut butter and Strawberry fruit spread
- Sliced strawberries and Greek yogurt
- Pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar
The Hungry Girl Growing Oatmeal Bowl Recipe
Do you have a big appetite? Do you want a big bowl of oatmeal? Here’s a recipe from Hungry Girl that you’re sure to love. She calls it the HG Growing Oatmeal Bowl. The secret is to use twice as much liquid and cook it for twice as long as recommended. You end up with a gigantic bowl of oatmeal with around 200 calories!
Makes 1 giant serving
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze
- 2 packets no-calorie sweetener
- 2 dashes cinnamon
- Dash salt
Combine all ingredients in a nonstick pot on the stove. Add 1 cup water and mix well. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Stirring often, cook until very thick and creamy, 12 to 15 minutes. Eat!
Nutritional estimates per serving (entire amount): 200 calories, 6g fat, 5g fiber, and a WW PointsPlus value of 5.
Need more ideas and suggestions for how to prepare you morning bowl of oats? Here’s a great collection of recipes that I’ve calculated the WW PointsPlus Values for. Enjoy!
More Slim & Healthy Oatmeal Recipes from Around the Web
Ellie Krieger’s Vanilla Spice Oatmeal – with all the flavors of oatmeal cookies – raisins, walnuts, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar – this is healthy comfort food at it’s best. Each serving has 370 calories 13 g fat, 54 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 11 g protein and 9 WW PointsPlus Value. Found at The Food Network.
Cinnamon Apple Spiced Oatmeal – topped with homemade apple butter, cinnamon and low fat granola with 229 calories and 6 PointsPlus Value found at SkinnyTaste.
Cranberry Maple Slow Cooker Oatmeal - Simply stir the ingredients together before bed time and wake up to a comforting bowl of creamy, filling oats with 6 WW PointsPlus Value. Found at Weight Watchers.
CrockPot Pumpkin Oatmeal - All of the autumn like flavors in this breakfast recipe with 161 calories and PointsPlus Value of 4 found at Laaloosh.
Cinnamon Apple Raisin Slow Cooker Oats – a wonderful way to start the day with 208 calories and 5 WW Points+ found at AllRecipes.
Healthy Toasted Oats with Berries - I’ve added a flavorful step of toasting the oats first before cooking in boiling water. In addition, I’m adding creamy vanilla soy milk, vanilla, cinnamon and fiber rich berries to create a wonderful flavor. Each serving has 215 calories and 5 WW PointsPlus Value. Found at Skinny Kitchen.
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal – What better way to start your day than with oatmeal with all the flavors of pumpkin pie. Each serving has 223 calories and 6 WW PointsPlus Value. Found at The Food Network.
Overnight Slow Cooker Oatmeal - Here is an easy way to serve a crowd a hearty breakfast before facing the elements for a day of winter sports. You can assemble it in the slow cooker in the evening and wake up to a bowl of hot, nourishing oatmeal. With 193 calories and 4 WW PointsPlus Value. Found at Eating Well.
Weight Watchers Strawberry Oatmeal - Cinnamon-sugar oatmeal is topped with fresh sliced strawberries. This high-fiber breakfast is sure to keep you satisfied for hours. 7 WW PointsPlus Value. Found at Weight Watchers.
More Ways to Enjoy Oatmeal For Breakfast
Baked Oatmeal Recipes – A great roundup of tried & true baked oatmeal recipes from around the web with WW PointsPlus and calorie information.
Summer Muesli Recipes – A great no-cook way to enjoy oats, especially during the warm summer months.
Healthy Homemade Granola Recipe – Delicious slim & healthy granola sweetened with maple syrup.