In Defense of Oatmeal, the Life-Giving Mush Everyone Loves to Hate
5 reasons I'll never get tired of it
I've eaten oatmeal for breakfast most weekdays for the past three years. You might say that means I can't have nice things, but I beg to differ. I’ll never get sick of oatmeal. Oatmeal is hearty and versatile—the workhorse of the pantry. Because oats are so neutral in flavor, oatmeal is infinitely customizable. It’s pretty nutritious on its own, but oatmeal also welcomes other good things to eat like nuts, seeds, roasted vegetables, and eggs. Don’t hate on oatmeal. Oatmeal loves you. Here are my theories as to why I think it’s impossible to get sick of oatmeal.
It’s easy to transport
If you don’t eat breakfast at home, oatmeal—either premade or raw—is beyond easy to scoop into a container and pop into your work bag. Sometimes I fully cook a big pot of steel cut oatmeal on Sunday nights, transfer it into a few jars, and stack them in the fridge. When I get to the office, I reheat the oatmeal in the microwave with a splash of water, and then add toppings. When I forget to make a big pot of oatmeal on Sunday nights (which, I’ll be honest, happens a lot), I just toss ½ cup rolled oats into a jar along with a spoonful of chia seeds and chuck it into my bag. At the office, I mix in milk or water, then microwave for 2 minutes, stopping to stir halfway though. Glamourous? No. Filling and tasty? Yes.
You can eat it at any temperature
While I do tend to prefer warm oatmeal (that helps the scoop of almond butter I usually put on top melt, which is wonderful), oatmeal is really just as good room temperature as it is piping hot or chilly. Temperature also makes some toppings better—for example, yogurt on top of hot oatmeal is disgusting. Don’t do it. However, a fat plop of Fage 2% on a bowl of cold overnight oats adds a pleasant tanginess, and your breakfast tastes somewhere in between a yogurt-granola parfait and muesli.
It can be sweet or savory
I grew up loving oatmeal mornings, because it was the only time my mother would let me free-pour the syrup or brown sugar onto my breakfast. I still love when my oatmeal slants sweet, but when I started experimenting with savory oatmeal, it was like “A Whole New World” from Aladdin started playing on full-blast in my brain. Sauteed greens, roasted vegetables, soy sauce-sauteed mushrooms, fried eggs—oatmeal loves them all. Which brings me to my next point:
It's very welcoming of toppings
Oatmeal isn’t supposed to be eaten plain. If you’re eating oatmeal without toppings and you hate oatmeal, I’m not surprised. To truly understand the majesty of oatmeal, you must apply toppings like toasted maple syrup, brown sugar, nuts and seeds, nut butter, jam, fresh fruit, frozen fruit, chia seed, yogurt, coconut yogurt, milk, coconut milk, almond milk, flaxseed, cooked vegetables, cinnamon, turmeric, crispy chickpeas, olive oil, sliced avocado, fresh herbs, fried eggs, hot sauce, soy sauce, parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast… just maybe not all at once.
It keeps me full until lunchtime
When I don’t have oatmeal for breakfast, by around 11 a.m., I find myself searching for a snack. Oatmeal, unlike granola bars or a piece of fruit, is an actual meal, meaning your tummy won’t be grumbling two hours later. As someone who loses most brain function when hungry, this is a major one. Embrace oatmeal, folks.