Healthified versions of holly jolly treats? Yes please.
December is the time for holiday treats, and winter is the time for cozy bowls of oatmeal. What if you could combine the two seasonal foods to create healthified, fiber-rich versions of your favorite holiday delights?
Before you go and buy maple and brown sugar oatmeal packets from the store, there are big benefits to making your own at home. Most store-bought, pre-flavored oatmeal is heavy on sugar, and it’s often more processed and has less fiber. (Here are other ways you’re sabotaging your “healthy” oatmeal.)
When you make your oats at home, you can control the amount of sugar that goes in, and since you can add fresh and more flavorful fruits, you might not need as much sugar to get the pleasing breakfast you’re craving. This can help you cut down on added sugar without feeling deprived.
Wanna celebrate the season in your breakfast? Try these holiday-themed oatmeal ideas:
1. Gingerbread oatmeal
You can’t catch the gingerbread man—but you can capture the flavor in your oats instead. Spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg create a warm, powerful punch of gingerbread flavor in your morning oats. Sweeten to taste with maple syrup, or mash in a banana for natural sweetness from fruit.
2. Peppermint mocha oatmeal
News flash: A “grande” peppermint mocha with 2 percent milk and whipped cream contains 54 g of sugar. That’s double the amount of added sugars the American Heart Association recommends for the entire day—all in a single Christmassy cup. (Here are ways to make your favorite seasonal drinks a little healthier.)
You can enjoy the same flavors (without the sugar bomb) in your oatmeal thanks to three key ingredients: peppermint extract, instant coffee, and unsweetened cocoa powder. Again, you can sweeten to taste with maple syrup, or opt for a mashed banana. (You won’t be able to taste the ‘nana behind the potent flavor of the peppermint extract.)
3. Pumpkin chai oatmeal
Pumpkin pie spice is so November. If December has you craving different flavors, chai spices will update pumpkin for the new month. Adorn your pumpkin oatmeal with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves for a soothing, vibrant, fiber-packed bowl of oats.
4. Eggnog oatmeal
Traditional eggnog might not be the healthiest beverage, but you’ve got options: Try almond milk eggnog (like Califia Farms or So Delicious) to reduce calories and skip the saturated fat. Since these eggnogs are already sweet, avoid adding any extra sweetener to your oats (you shouldn’t need it). You can also make your own healthified eggnog to control the sugar level.
5. Cranberry orange oatmeal
So many people only ever experience cranberries as a sauce (or worse, a canned sauce) on Thanksgiving, but these little red jewels will put you in the Christmas spirit and add incredible flavor. The sweet juice from the orange (which is in season all winter) is the perfect balance to the sour cranberries. Bonus: the vitamin C might help fend off winter sniffles naturally.
6. Apple parsnip oatmeal
Root veggies get lots of love during the winter months, but one that often gets ignored is parsnip. This white, carrot-like, super affordable veggie can be grated into your oats for a seasonal breakfast. You won’t even need to add sugar, thanks to the sweet apple.
These surprisingly healthy oatmeal ideas are so tasty, you’ll finally be excited to get out of bed during these dark winter mornings. (How many days until spring?)
5 whole grains to keep your family healthy. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2018. (Accessed on November 25, 2019 at https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/five-grains-to-keep-your-family-healthy.)
Added sugars. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. (Accessed on November 25, 2019 at https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/added-sugars.)
Orange, raw. Washington, DC: FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2019. (Accessed on November 25, 2019 at https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/341436/nutrients.)