Protein Oatmeal and I were introduced ten years ago. I was never a big oatmeal person growing up. We were a boxed cereal family to the core, and oatmeal didn’t really make a regular appearance. When I did see it in breakfast buffets or over at friends’ houses, it always seemed to be just one big lump of gluey blandness, so I avoided it. After college, I had a close relationship with microwave oatmeal packets, and I was sooo proud of myself for finally taking advantage of the health benefits of oatmeal. Then I realized those packets are just about as healthy as eating cookies for breakfast – fail.
In 2004 I discovered I have a gluten sensitivity, so my typical routine of cereal or toast for breakfast had to be adjusted. I knew oats held the key to an amazing breakfast, but I just couldn’t accept plain old rolled oats. I wanted something hearty, energizing and protein packed. That’s when I came up with this recipe for Easy Protein Oatmeal.
My kitchen philosophy basically entails trying to get the biggest bang for my buck when cooking. I ask myself how I can make something healthy and nutrient packed while spending as little time prepping and cleaning as possible. This Easy Protein Oatmeal is perfect! You can prep it in two minutes with things you probably already have on hand, and it cooks for only fifteen minutes. One pot to clean and you are done.
The secret ingredient to this Protein Oatmeal? Quinoa. You get a large dose of heart-healthy fiber from the oats, plus the added protein punch from the quinoa. Oats are high in fiber, which helps you feel full longer and improves your heart and digestive health. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. It also is high in fiber, and contains iron, lysine, magnesium and riboflavin. When oats and quinoa meet in this Protein Oatmeal, you can basically put on your cape after breakfast because you have officially become a nutrient superhero for the day.
You need to use steel cut oats in this recipe and not your typical rolled oats. One reason I prefer steel cut oats here is that you will get more fiber because it’s less processed than rolled or quick-cooking oats. The other reason you need to use them in this specific recipe is that they have a similar cooking time as the quinoa. If you use rolled oats the oats would either be really soggy and broken down or the quinoa wouldn’t be cooked. If you really want to use rolled oats, you could cook the oats and quinoa separately and then mix them together after cooking. Steel cut oats can be found in most grocery stores now – you might just need to check the health food aisle. Quinoa is also really easy to find in most grocery stores. I bought my latest batch at Costco and it happened to be a mixture of quinoa, amaranth and millet, which worked out great in the oatmeal.
I personally don’t use any sweetener in my oatmeal while it’s cooking. I prefer to control the amount of sweetness by drizzling just a little agave or maple syrup on the top when I serve it. You can definitely add your sweetener of choice, or try mashing a ripe banana in at the end for a great hint of sweetness. I also prefer my oatmeal cooked with water versus milk. I then use almond milk to either thin it out as needed towards the end or simply as a topper when I serve it. I know many people prefer to cook oatmeal with milk, and if you chose to do this, the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients would be the same. Milk will definitely increase the protein, but also the calories. If you are training for an athletic event or breastfeeding (or you need the extra calories for any reason), I would recommend using your milk of choice instead of water when cooking. You can also mix in a scoop of almond butter when serving to boost the protein, healthy fats and calories.
Myself? I save up the extra calories for the toppers. Isn’t that what oatmeal is all about? I like dried cranberries, fresh raspberries and/or blueberries, toasted almond slivers and a drizzle of agave. Any fresh fruit/dried fruit/nut combo would be awesome, so go with what you enjoy.
This recipe makes 4 servings, with each serving delivering about 190 calories and 9 grams of protein (before the toppings and made with water). It will keep you feeling full and satisfied and will help you avoid that mid-morning hunger monster. If you want an easy, nutritious, superfood to start your day, try this Easy Protein Oatmeal! You may not go back to regular oatmeal again.
Protein Oatmeal – A Superfood Breakfast
- 1/2 cup dry steel cut oats by gluten free oats if you are trying to keep gluten out of your diet
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa or quinoa blend
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 cups of water
- Bring the water to boil in a medium to large size pot
- Add the steel cut oats and quinoa and stir
- Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice during this time
- Take the pot off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes
- Stir in the cinnamon
- Serve with the toppings of your choice