It should come as no surprise that one of my favourite foods are oats, as I made them an honourable mention in my ‘my life in 26 words’ post. I like to switch things up and vary between warm porridge and cold oats with plant milk. I also use a variety of different toppings and condiments to flavour my oats and increase their nutritional value. Although I could write an endless list of toppings that I have tried and loved in the past, today I want to focus on my ultimate top 10 oatmeal toppings and their health benefits.
1. Frozen berries
If you have never tried topping a warm bowl of porridge with some frozen berries, you are seriously missing out! A comforting bowl of oats goes perfectly with some crunchy and slowly melting berries. Of course, berries are full of anti-oxidants, so they make for a tasty and healthy addition to a warming bowl of porridge in winter.
2. Fresh mint
Perhaps another surprising addition to the list, but fresh mint gives your bowl of oats a freshness and kick that is perfect for the warmer summer months. Mint is particularly useful for an upset stomach or indigestion, so if you are suffering from IBS or other digestive issues, loading your oats with mint in the morning will be a delicious way to soothe your tummy.
Creamy avocado is, of course, delicious on a piece of toast, but also goes wonderfully well with a bowl of porridge. The creaminess of the avocado pairs beautifully with frozen berries, so putting those two together on your oats is a match made in heaven. Avocados are loaded with healthy fats and vitamin E, but are also full of fiber, potassium and vitamin K.
4. Coconut yoghurt
When I went vegan, one of the foods I missed most was yoghurt. That was until I discovered coconut yoghurt (my favourite brands are Coyo and The Coconut Collaborative). Putting a big spoonful of creamy coconut yoghurt on cold oats in the morning is so refreshing. For the ultimate tummy booster, mix the coconut yoghurt with some mint. Besides mint’s beneficial properties for your stomach, coconut yoghurt contains probiotics that help keep your gut bacteria healthy.
5. Hazelnut butter
Out of all the different nut butters out there, hazelnut butter must be my favourite one to put on oats. A spoonful of hazelnut butter almost reminds me of Nutella, so adding this is a healthy way to bring back one of my favourite childhood delights. Of course, hazelnuts contain healthy fats, as well as an array of vitamins and minerals. It is particularly high in manganese, which keeps your bones strong and healthy.
6. Flax meal
Grinding up some flaxseeds in my blender and them storing them in my fridge for the week, is one of my weekend rituals. I love sprinkling flax meal on all sorts of dishes, as the slightly nutty flavour matches great with both savoury and sweet dishes. It gives oats a nutty bite without adding more texture. This makes flax meal the perfect accompaniment for any other topping. As flax meal is high in omega 3, it is a great ‘fish-replacement’ for vegans.
7. Cacao nibs
Cacao nibs are basically chocolate in its unrefined form and thus a lot healthier than their processed counterparts. They are high in minerals, such as magnesium, which is the perfect mood enhancer. On their own cacao nibs can taste a bit strong, but with the slight sweetness from the oats, cacao nibs turn into the most delicious crunchy bites of chocolate.
This must be the most classic oatmeal topping of all time! You can enjoy it sliced on top of the oats or mash a ripe banana and mix it through the oats for some natural sweetness. Bananas are full of fiber and potassium. Just like magnesium, potassium is good for your nervous systems and a great mood regulator, so eating a banana a day could do wonders for your happiness levels.
9. Cinnamon & Maca powder
I know that these are technically two ingredients, but I always eat them together in oats. Both spices are warming and comforting and blended together they make for the perfect addition to a winter porridge or bowl of oats. I often add this regardless of my other toppings as it goes well with so many flavour combinations. Cinnamon has plenty of antioxidants that will help reduce inflammation and fight infections. Maca powder is high in vitamin C but is most well-known for its ability to balance hormone levels.
Nothing screams summer more to me than a bowl of oats with ripe and juicy nectarines. Although only a seasonal staple, I love adding sweet nectarines to my oats in summer as a way to turn my staple food into a summer feast. As with most fruits, nectarines are high in antioxidants and vitamins. They are particularly high in beta-carotene, which keep your eyes healthy.
These are my 10 favourite oatmeal toppings. I like to mix and match between these, as well as adding other toppings and spices depending on my mood and needs. I would love to know what your favourite additions to a bowl of oats are, so let me know in the comments below.