Breakfasts aren’t always easy to figure out in college. Whether it’s because you live in a dorm, don’t have access to a dining hall, are short on money or — let’s be real — just don’t leave enough time before class, there is always an excuse not to eat an adequate breakfast. Luckily, this recipe is foolproof, dorm-safe and guaranteed to keep you fueled and focused for your day.
This recipe is a rendition of the classic, microwavable packages of Quaker oatmeal. There are so many ways to make oatmeal, but this has to be my personal favorite. Everyone around me who has tried it never goes back, including my dad, so you know that has to speak for something. There are two levels to building a good, nutritious oatmeal — the base and the toppings.
Ingredients you will need
Rolled oats, flaxseed meal, sweetener of choice — favorites include light brown sugar, honey or maple syrup — almond milk and toppings of choice. For toppings, think fruit like apples, bananas and berries; spreads like peanut butter and almond butter; and seeds like chia, sunflower and hemp.
As a quick note on types of oats, I would recommend using rolled oats which can also be referred to as old-fashioned oats. Quick-cooking or steel-cut oats would work as well, but I tend to prefer the deeper, more flavorful texture of rolled oats. Instant oatmeal is pre-cooked, dried and thinner, which allows them to cook more quickly. These oats have a softer and mushier texture.
Steel-cut oats are processed by chopping them into fine pieces as opposed to rolling. This variety takes the longest to cook, but has the chewiest texture because they retain their shape well. My favorite brand is the Oven Toasted Old Fashioned Organic Oats from Trader Joe’s, which cook faster than steel-cut but still maintain their shape and texture.
Making the base
Start by adding one cup of almond milk to a microwave-safe bowl or pot on the stove. If using a stove, bring the milk to a boil. If using a microwave, continue with the recipe. Add in one-half cup of rolled oats and one to two tablespoons of flaxseed meal and stir to combine. Place the bowl in the microwave. This is the only tricky part — if your bowl is shallow, you will need to keep an eye on it to be sure it doesn’t boil over. Microwave for two to four minutes.
The less time spent in the microwave, the more liquidy the oatmeal; the more time, the thicker it will be.
If using a stove, add the oats and flaxseed once the milk is boiling, then turn down the heat to medium and cook until you reach your desired consistency.
Now for the fun — toppings
You really can’t go wrong here. A few of my favorite variations include cinnamon apple, brown sugar berries, peanut butter and jelly and peanut butter and banana. Cinnamon apple is delicious because you can easily sauté the apples with some cinnamon by combining the two in a pan and heating until you hear them sizzle. Or, you can throw them in the microwave together for about 30 seconds until barely soft.
Brown sugar berries is self-explanatory — just a pinch of brown sugar with blueberries, raspberries and/or strawberries. The best part is you can buy frozen berries for this too, as they thaw and melt into the oatmeal and give it a great flavor. The peanut butter variations involve a simple, nice, big blob of peanut butter on top of some fruit. We love that. Throw some seeds on top of any of these for an extra punch of nutrition, and you are completely set.
A little note on flaxseed meal — this is key to keeping you full. Ground flaxseed meal is full of powerful nutrients your college diet is likely lacking — fiber, omega-3s, vitamins and minerals. Flaxseed also provides many benefits to digestion, hair, heart, skin and joint health. The same can be said for hemp seeds, chia seeds and sunflower seeds, as they all pack fiber at their base as well as contain many other unique benefits.