5 Creative Ways to Spice Up Your Oatmeal

oatmealWhen it’s cold and no one wants to get out of bed, plain old cereal with milk isn’t going to be the thing that gets them up. The surefire breakfast for a blustery and cold winter morning is heaping bowl of creamy, slow-cooked oats. While going for oats au naturale is always a nice standby, there are lots of great things you can add to them to switch it up once in a while.

Here are a few incredibly tasty and soul-warming suggestions for making your oatmeal really sing!

1. Add lots of fruit

Yes, including blueberries and chopped apples in oatmeal is a classic way to go, but think about incorporating different varieties of fruit in your breakfast. Fruits like gooseberries, stewed rhubarb, and Asian pear can add some real complexity to the overall taste. Add it just after dishing up and fold it into the oats so that it’s slightly warm.

2. Include crystallized ginger

Crystallized ginger is ginger root that’s been peeled, sliced, and candied. The sugar in crystallized ginger mutes the normally biting flavor of ginger, making it great to use as an ingredient in sweet foods like quick breads and cake. Of course, it’s also very suitable for oatmeal! Just chop it up into strips and sprinkle. If you do use this ingredient, cut down on any additional sugar that you’d normally add, since it’s plenty sweet.

3. Use toasted nuts

Add a complex, roasty flavor to your oatmeal by toasting up a handful of walnuts, pecans, or almonds (or all of them!). Either pan-toast them or stick them in your oven to cook at about 200˚F until they brown. You can chop them up or add them whole. Nuts are a great source of good fats and protein and will make you feel fuller after eating.

4. Stir in homemade simple syrups

Your options are literally infinite when it comes to infusing your own simple syrups! While they’re great for mixing into cocktails, their day-to-day culinary uses should not be overlooked. Dissolve equal parts sugar and water in a pot set over a low flame and add something fun to the mix: things like jalapenos, dried lavender buds, mint, thyme, or orange peel would work really well. Substitute a tablespoon or so of syrup for your usual dollop of brown sugar, and the aroma will infuse throughout the oatmeal, giving it a beautiful scent and flavor.

5. Go savory

This might sound a little too out-of-the-box for you, but stay with me here. Savory oatmeal is an echo of rice congee, a dish that’s a breakfast staple throughout Asia. Take a cue from that iconic dish by cooking your oats with some star anise and then adding minced green onion, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. Top it off with a fried egg and you’ve got a seriously rib-sticking breakfast!

Soleil is a former chef, with an encyclopedia of recipes floating around in her head. Nowadays, she applies her culinary expertise to the wonderful world of fancy picnic baskets.

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