Note: This post has been adapted from an article I wrote for the Wesleyan Argus in March of 2014. It can be viewed here.
For years, you’ve been implored to eat breakfast every morning, often hearing that it’s the most important meal of the day. Recent studies, however, have scrutinized the claim that breakfast can help one lose weight and improve heart health (see articles by NYT and Slate). While there is certainly conflicting data among studies that profess the powers of pancakes and cocoa puffs, the fact that eating a nutritious meal first thing in the morning makes you feel energized, focused, and alert is incontrovertible (UPenn).
What you eat for breakfast is also extremely important. Downing a plate full of greasy hash browns and bacon is definitely enjoyable, but it’s not what will sustain you through your work-out or organic chemistry mid-term. Instead, I recommend trying a dish that many have dismissed: oatmeal.
I’ll be the first to admit that oats can be bland, tasteless, and watery. Even worse, without brown sugar or the occasional dinosaur egg, eating it can be just plain boring. As far as breakfast foods go, however, it is one of the most nutritious. In every cup of oatmeal there are 25 grams of complex carbohydrates, which not only make you feel fuller for longer, but also release glucose, the high octane fuel your body needs, for that extra boost of energy when you need it most.
Having devoured oatmeal religiously for the past four years, I believe I’ve come up with a simple yet power-packed way to liven up a plain bowl of oats. The simple addition of granola and fruit (I prefer blueberries and a banana, but any kind of fruit will suffice) is enough to improve the taste, but to make this oatmeal “loaded,” a few more ingredients are required.
With the addition of chia, flax, and hemp seeds, the oatmeal gains a mixture of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which help with immune function and blood clotting (University of Maryland). Additionally, they are packed with protein and fiber. The coup de grâce then comes with the addition of almond or peanut butter, which further increases the flavor and protein content of the oatmeal.
All of my friends who have tried this recipe are hooked. Some even go to bed in anticipation of waking the following morning and feasting on a bowl of loaded oatmeal. After making your own bowl, I’m sure that you’ll feel the same way.
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup blueberries and 1 banana, or your fruit of choice
2 tbsp. each of chia, flax, and hemp seeds
1 tbsp. dried cranberries
1 tbsp. granola
2-3 tbsp. almond or peanut butter
1 tbsp. fruit-based jam or preserves (optional)
1 tbsp. of nutritional yeast (optional)
1. Line a bowl with your fruit of choice.
2. Fill your bowl with old-fashioned whole oatmeal.
3. Add chia, flax, and hemp seeds to the mixture along with granola and cranberries.
4. Add nut butter to the oatmeal. Top with jam or preserves, and nutritional yeast, if desired.
5. Serve with a cup of coffee or cold glass of water.
Calories: ~ 750 kcal
Fat: ~ 32 grams
Carbohydrates: ~ 55 grams
Protein: ~ 30 grams