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For morning runners, breakfast is everything. Depending on when you run, breakfast can either fuel your workout or help you recover afterwards. And even if you don’t run in the morning, it’s still an important meal—breakfast gives you the energy to power through your morning and sets you up to make healthy choices the rest of the day. Enter the humble oatmeal. Its fiber keeps you full and its carbs give you energy, which is why the meal is a go-to for many runners. But if your daily bowl has gotten a little boring, try one of these twists to makeover the most important meal of the day.
Deconstruct a classic
Take one of the most traditional ways to serve oatmeal—apple, maple, cinnamon—and take it apart. Make a parfait by layering yogurt, raw or toasted oats, chopped apple, raisins and a drizzle of maple syrup. Top with cinnamon and dig in.
Serve it savory
Who says oatmeal has to be sweet? The grain is a blank canvas that can be prepared just like you’d make another morning favorite—grits—so if you’re a salt-in-the-morning kind of person, try mixing your favorite cheese or a little soy sauce into your oats. Add some sautéed vegetables or chopped scallions and top with a fried egg.
Make it once, eat all week
Try the creative hack that gives you a week’s worth of from-scratch oatmeal in a matter of minutes every morning. Make a big batch of oats at the start of the week, portion into muffin tins and freeze before transferring into a plastic bag for storage. When you’re ready for breakfast, add a couple muffins (depending on the size of your tin) to a bowl and microwave till hot and creamy.
Go for granola
Turn your favorite oatmeal combo into granola. Mix 3 cups of rolled oats with 1-2 cups of your favorite nuts; in a separate bowl combine ¼ cup each maple syrup and vegetable oil and a pinch of salt. Combine and spread on a baking sheet; bake for an hour at 250 degrees or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Serve a half cup over yogurt or mix into milk. Once you’ve mastered the recipe, try customizing with other mix-ins like shredded coconut, or add dried fruit to the granola after it’s cooled.
Shake up your smoothie
Oats in your smoothie may sound weird, but it’s actually a delicious way to thicken your drink while adding fiber, which will keep you full and satisfied through lunch. Add a quarter to a half cup to your regular smoothie, or if you’d rather have something closer to the taste of traditional oatmeal, blend oats with milk, yogurt, frozen banana, a pinch of cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.
For a mix-and-match oats option, make these easy open-faced fruit sandwiches. Slice an apple or banana and layer with peanut or almond butter, your choice of chopped dried fruit or raisins, and a sprinkling of raw or toasted oats.
Indulge your chocolate cravings
If you crave a sweet treat in the morning but don’t want the empty calories or sugar high (and crash), try turning your oatmeal into a chocolate treat. Add 1-2 teaspoons of cocoa powder, a little sugar or sweetener, and a quarter teaspoon of vanilla to your usual oatmeal. Dessert for breakfast!
Punch up the protein in your bowl by swirling in a tablespoon of your favorite nut butter, or chop up a small handful of nuts if you like a little crunch. Or have lunch for breakfast—mix a little peanut butter and a spoonful of jelly into hot oats and enjoy with an ice cold glass of milk.
Give the wildly popular overnight oats trend a try one night and prepare your bowl in advance. Just mix equal parts oats and liquid (milk, almond milk, soy milk, etc.) and pop in the fridge. The oats will soak up the liquid and be super creamy in the morning. Feel free to add toppings the night before or just before serving. So easy, so good and perfect for the warmer months when you’d prefer something cold.
Perk it up
To have your coffee and breakfast all in one, prepare your oatmeal as usual and add 1-2 teaspoons of instant coffee. Deepen the flavor with a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg and enjoy a hearty bowl of caffeinated carbs.