Nutrition Expert Explains How To Spruce Up A Bland Bowl Of Oatmeal

Oats have been consumed by humans for at least the last 32,000 years — even before farming was a thing. An archaeological discovery in Southern Italy shows evidence on an ancient grinding stone that the grains were once processed and used to make food, per New Scientist. Oats have been a staple part of the Scottish diet since the middle ages since it was one of the only grains that thrived in the harsh highland climate, per National Geographic.

In 1791, the author of the English dictionary, Dr. Samuel Johnson, speaking of oats, said, "a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people." His friend and biographer replied, "Aye, and that's why England has such fine horses, and Scotland such fine people."

However, while many oatmeal lovers knew that the grain was doing them good, they most likely didn't know it was a great source of iron, magnesium, zinc, or folate, and contained a soluble fiber called beta-glucan that may help lower cholesterol (via Healthline) — let's face it, they probably had no idea what cholesterol was either. Despite all these benefits, however, the thought of consuming oatmeal on a regular basis may not appeal to a lot of people. To remedy this problem, we sought advice from an expert.

Spruce it up without the sugar

While oatmeal is a versatile and nutritious ingredient, many have struggled to find a way to consume it that they actually enjoy without adding a lot of sugar and products that make it a not-so-healthy option. Therefore, it's essential to find ways that you can enjoy it while maintaining the health benefits.

January — traditionally a time that many will look at optimizing their diet anyway — is National Oatmeal Month, so it's a perfect time to increase your oatmeal intake. Instead of adding sugar or sugar-laden syrups to your bowl, Writer and Registered Dietitian Emily Wunder, MSCN, RD, LDN suggests adding fruit because it's "a great addition to oatmeal, providing a natural sweetness with a variety of vitamins and minerals."

According to Healthline, oatmeal is pretty filling due to its high fiber content but Wunder says you can increase this effect by adding a "scoop of a nut butter like almond or peanut" this will also add "protein and some monounsaturated fat" into your dietary mix. She also suggests "a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, or other favorite spice" for some extra flavor.

In addition to Wunder's suggestions, Mashed has some simple ways to make oatmeal taste better.