There’s much to love about oatmeal, especially when there’s a chill in the air. But if you’re in a flavor rut with your daily bowl, we hear you. “There is still a huge portion of the population that is not thinking outside the box when it comes to oatmeal,” says Samantha Stephens, owner of New York City–based OatMeals, the first oatmeal-only shop, offering 30 signature bowls and more than 80 toppings served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Oatmeal is heart-healthy, nutrient-dense, high in fiber and protein*, and has tons of antioxidants, so it’s such a good choice to begin with, says Stephens, and it’s a perfect food for experimentation because it adapts well to almost any flavor. 

How do you make the switch from ho-hum to palate pleaser? Try steel-cut oats—they offer a nutty, hearty flavor—and savory ingredients like cheese, oils, vegetables and eggs. “I’m also trying to get people to think about using oatmeal as a savory side dish with dinner,” Stephens says. Toast oats in olive oil with garlic or onion, and then cook in beef, chicken or vegetable stock for a tasty rice alternative. And for those who still love their oatmeal fruity and sweet, there are many new takes to perk up your taste buds. People are surprised at first, then amazed, and then get addicted to their favorite new flavors, says Stephens.

Oatmeal Add-ins

For breakfast, add to your oatmeal: 

  • Fresh pineapple, dried mango, flaked coconut and coconut milk
  • Pumpkin puree swirl, pecans, brown sugar, pumpkin spice, whole milk
  • Dried pomegranate seeds, pistachios, honey, almond milk
  • Dates, pecans, granola, peanut butter, honey

For lunch or dinner, add:

  • Cinnamon-roasted sliced apples, sharp cheddar cheese, bacon, maple syrup, sea salt
  • Sun-dried tomato, pesto, grated Parmesan, sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper
  • Poached egg, arugula, olive oil, grated monterey jack cheese, salt and pepper

Did You Know?

One cup of cooked oatmeal has 5 grams of protein, almost the same as in one egg (6 g).

Take Heart 

According to the International Food Information Council Foundation 2018 Food and Health Survey, heart health is consumers’ number-one health concern, yet only 38 percent of people can name a food to help. Enter oatmeal. For heart benefits, the connection is clear: Study after study shows that oatmeal can reduce LDL and total cholesterol (by as much as 5 to 7 percent), and decrease the risk of coronary heart disease. Oatmeal’s active component beta-glucan, a soluble fiber, is believed to be behind the effects, and recommendations call for 3 grams of beta-glucan daily, which translates to about 3 ounces of dry oats. Oats may also lower the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and weight gain.