Oatmeal is one of our go-to breakfasts, but I find that I sometimes need to make it more interesting to entice my toddler to eat it. It's filled with complex carbohydrates, which are a great source of energy, it's high in fiber, which is good for digestion, and it's incredibly versatile, so you pretty much taste like anything. We like to do all sorts of things with oatmeal—both the first time around and using up the inevitable leftovers that come with feeding a little one. Here are 15 of our favorite ways to eat it. (And when I say "oatmeal", assume that I mean old-fashioned rolled oats cooked according to the package directions unless stated otherwise.)
1. . 3-Ingredient Oatmeal Pancakes
Stir together 1/4-cup leftover oatmeal, 1 egg, and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder. Cook as pancakes (smaller is better), letting them set almost completely before carefully flipping. Or, simply use leftover oatmeal in place of 1/4-1/2 cup flour in your favorite pancake recipe.
2. Whole Grains Smoothie
Add 2 tablespoons rolled oats or leftover oatmeal per serving when making your next smoothie.
3. Savory Oats with Peas and Feta
Use steel cut or rolled oats and cook with stock instead of milk, then add peas, butter, and crumbled feta for a risotto-like version of savory oatmeal.
4. Leftover Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies
Stir together 1/2 cup leftover oatmeal, 1 cup almond flour, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Add 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup if the oatmeal was unsweetened. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, spoon out batter by 1-tablespoons onto a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and flatten to about 1/4-inch thick. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
5. Cocoa Oats
Stir 1 teaspoon cocoa powder into a serving of oats for a morning treat. This pairs particularly well with a swirl of nut butter and sliced bananas or strawberries.
6. Coconut Cream Baked Oatmeal
This is a delicious make-ahead variation on oats for any morning of the week or weekend family brunch.
7. Sweet Potato Oatmeal
Stir roasted sweet potato (or unsweetened canned sweet potato puree) into prepared oats for added Vitamins A and C and natural sweetness.
8. Leftover Oatmeal Rounds
Stir one lightly beaten egg into 1/2 cup leftover oatmeal. Add cinnamon and a touch of vanilla if the oatmeal was unflavored. Grease a mini muffin tin and add a small amount of batter to the bottom of each cup, about 1/4-1/3 full. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set at 350 degrees F for a cross between a muffin and a cookie.
9. Overnight Oats with Berries
Make breakfast ahead of time with this easy overnight oats recipe. You can use leftover oatmeal in place of the rolled oats and use whichever kind of berries your kiddo likes.
10. Oat and Grain Porridge
Grind whole oats, quinoa, and brown rice in the bowl of a food processor into a coarse flour. Cook until soft in milk, stir in cinnamon, a dash of vanilla, and top with favorite fruit for a multi-grain porridge.
11. Coconut Chia Oatmeal with Apricots
Take your standard bowl of oats to the tropics by using light coconut milk instead of regular, and adding diced dried apricots and a sprinkle of chia seeds.
12. Buttery Baked Oatmeal
Place 1 cup leftover oatmeal in a greased 8x8 baking dish and smooth with a spatula to an even thickness. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, brush with melted butter, and bake at 350 degrees F for until warm and just starting to turn golden brown. Spoon into bowls and top with yogurt and fruit.
13. Oatmeal Banana Muffins
Use 3/4 cup rolled oats in place of the all purpose called for in these Whole Grain Banana Muffins for a version with more fiber and whole grains.
14. Apple Oats
Grate 1 medium apple into a 4-serving pot of oats, add cinnamon, a dash of ground ginger, and cook until soft. Stir in additional applesauce for more sweetness if desired.
15. Savory Pumpkin Porridge
Stir 1/2-1 cup canned pumpkin puree into a 4-serving pot of oatmeal. Add 1 tablespoon butter, a dash of nutmeg, a pinch of salt, and serve topped with Parmesan cheese.