Happy Healthy Me

Warm up a cold morning with a hot bowl of flavorful oatmeal

Warm up a cold morning with a hot bowl of flavorful oatmeal

Homemade granola and coconut on top Photo by Marci Gilbert
Peanut butter and coconut Photo by Marci Gilbert
Topping: strawberry jam and coconut Photo by Marci Gilbert

When it’s cold outside, there is no breakfast as warming and filling as oatmeal. A pot of oatmeal for one doesn’t have to take a long time, use a lot of dishes or taste bland. It all comes down to the right proportion of liquid to oats and the toppings.

Don’t bother with Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal. Here is how to make the best oatmeal. I’ll even tell you how to have chocolate for breakfast and not feel guilty.

In my opinion, thick oatmeal is the way to go. When you order oatmeal at a restaurant, you get a big bowl with milk, stale raisins, a floppy banana and brown sugar on the side. That is not all that oatmeal has to offer, I promise.

The key to enjoying oatmeal day after day is to find a perfect plain oat base and add mix-ins. Think of it like a yogurt shop with a perfect vanilla flavor and you add the toppings. Or consider it like adding jewelry to a little black dress to dress it up.

For a perfectly thick oatmeal, use 1/3 cup of oats to 2/3 cup of water and ¼  cup of milk. When choosing your oats, use what you like. There are regular old-fashioned oats, steel-cut oats, Scottish oats, and many others. They all basically have the same nutritional value but have different consistencies.

If you are more or less hungry, change your quantities, but keep with this proportion. I also like to add flax meal to my bowl to add some fiber and a different texture.

For the ingredients you cook into the oats, the banana is really important to the creaminess of oatmeal. You can slice one-half banana into the pot, or for bonus points, mash it and whisk it in. The mashed banana adds a perfect texture to the bowl and really doesn’t taste too much of banana. And you have added one serving of fruit to your breakfast.

I also like to add raisins while cooking so they really pop, along with cinnamon and a dash of salt. Other spice options are nutmeg, cloves, or ginger, or even pumpkin pie spice. You could stir in canned pumpkin instead of banana too. I have also heard of cottage cheese, but that sounds too weird even for me.

Are you wondering where the chocolate comes in? For the toppings, my favorites are coconut and peanut butter.

Try Peanut Butter & Co.’s Dark Chocolate Dreams. It is rich and decadent, and has the same nutritional value as non-chocolate peanut butter like my other favorite, Mighty Maple. I like the extra sweetness that the coconut adds and the peanut butter makes this oatmeal last longer in your stomach. It is so thick and has such a strong flavor that it adds great value to your bowl. It is a little overpowering if you aren’t into nut butters.

Other options are a crunchy granola or cereal to add another texture, blueberries, maple syrup, or jam.

To put this all together, here is a recipe with instructions:

Classic Oatmeal

  • 1/3 C old-fashioned oats + 1 T ground flax meal
  • 2/3 C water
  • ¼ C almond milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash salt
  • 2 T raisins
  • ½ banana, mashed
  • 2 T sweetened coconut
  • 2 T granola


  • Bring water to a simmer on the stove.
  • Add oats to pot and whisk. Let bubble for a minute.
  • Add almond milk and whisk again.
  • Add spices, banana, raisins and whisk. Turn heat to low and let bubble until thickened.
  • Pour into serving bowl and top with coconut and granola.

So have I convinced you to make oatmeal tomorrow for breakfast? Give your cold cereal or breakfast bar a rest until it's hot again.

Marci Gilbert writes a daily healthy living blog at www.marcigilbert.com.