With the cooler mornings of fall and winter approaching, what better way to start the day than with a hot and nutritious breakfast? Oatmeal has been a favorite for years, and Consumer Reports’ experts say it’s also one of the quickest, healthiest breakfasts you can make at home or on the go.
Breakfast doesn’t get much easier than a single-serve oatmeal cup. But to get the most nutrition, choose your oats carefully.
“Avoid Instant oats. They’re made into thinner flakes and digested more quickly, which can cause spikes in your blood sugar levels. Stick to steel cut or rolled oats instead,” said Consumer Reports Health Editor Trisha Calvo.
Calvo said part of what makes some oatmeals taste so good can be lots of added sugars and artificial flavors.
In fact, nearly half of the oatmeal cups Consumer Reports looked at had between 2 and a half to 4 and a half teaspoons in a serving. If you buy sweetened oatmeal, pick one with 8 grams or less of added sugars per serving.
Some oatmeal cups Consumer Reports checked out pump up the protein and fiber with highly processed ingredients.
“Check the label for ‘pea protein,’ ‘soy protein isolate’ or ‘chicory root fiber.’ Avoid these processed ingredients and pick products with whole food sources of proteins and fibers like nuts and seeds, grains like quinoa or dried fruits,” Calvo said.
To get the whole-grain benefit without all the sugar, Consumer Reports says to try Nature’s Path Organic Hot Oatmeal Maple Pecan. It’s made from rolled oats with pecans and chia seeds, with brown and maple sugar for sweetness.
And Purely Elizabeth Superfood Oatmeal has no added sugars. It’s made with organic oats, flax and chia seeds, and amaranth. You can top it with a little fruit for sweetness.
Also, an oatmeal cup from RX A.M. has 12 grams of protein, mostly from egg whites and almonds, gets some sweetness from dates, and has no added sugars.
You can save money by making your own oatmeal cups at home in batches. There are lots of recipes online, but make sure to use rolled oats. Add some nuts, raisins, and dried apple, and you’ll have a version you can sweeten yourself to keep it healthier.
Here’s a Consumer Reports recipe for Overnight Oatmeal:
- Mix ½ cup each skim milk, vanilla Greek low-fat yogurt, and old-fashioned oats; ½ mashed banana; and 1 tsp. chia seeds in a bowl.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, top with ½ sliced banana, 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts, and 1 tsp. maple syrup.
Per serving: 510 calories, 15 g fat, 2 g sat. fat, 23 g protein, 9 g fiber, 105 mg sodium.
If you are needing to grab a quick breakfast out, Consumer Reports looked at healthy breakfast options at Dunkin’, Panera Bread and Starbucks – and found nine! You can see them here.