Here’s a little fact: for a very long time after learning to eat healthily I stopped having oatmeal. I’ll admit, I was trying to cut back on carbs to escape the plateau, but I also never seemed to feel full after having one serving. It’s like that for a lot of people, too, which is why they switch to a keto diet because of the healthy fats and proteins that really keep them satiated. However, I learned I didn’t like cutting out a certain macro–especially carbs because A) I didn’t feel good restricting myself, B) they taste good, and C) are the human body’s main source of energy!
After research and personal experience, I’ve compiled a pretty generous list of some handy-dandy helpers to make oatmeal more filling, creamy, thick and delicious. Some of them were very unlikely but were much better than expected, while others were quite generic since not everyone can find these things locally and at a reasonable price. So say buh-bye to a meager bowl of oatmeal and learn how you can transform your wimpy handful of rolled oats to an overflowing 2 cups (or even 3)!
- Liquid. In any form: water, milk, juice, coconut cream, whatever, if you simmer the oats long enough, they will eventually absorb all the liquid and expand. You can also try out the Chocolate Covered Katie trick linked here! I found it to be quite useful as well!
- Yogurt. If you saw my Vegan Cheesecake recipe, you know what I’m talking about! Yogurt, whether it be coconut, Greek or plain, is a great way to add some more oomph to your oats. I don’t recommend cooking them with the oats because high heats can actually destroy their good bacteria–plus it’ll explode! Cook your oats separately and then stir the yogurt in, hot or cold. I’ve never vouched that cottage cheese would work well, but it should! In savory egg salad oatmeal the taste should be fine.
- Egg whites. Before you gawk, it’s actually quite common to mix egg whites into your oatmeal! It does take up flavor, so you will have to use extra add-ins (ex: full banana instead of half), especially sweetener. However, this is a wonderful way to make your oats creamy, fluffy, hearty, and super-duper filling. Not to mention you get some extra muscle-building protein! 🙂 If you really want to you can use whole eggs, but I personally have never tried it because of the yolk’s overpowering taste.
- Coconut flour. Know how coconut flour only requires two tablespoons for a serving of pancakes? That’s because of it’s thickening properties! Stir in a tablespoon or two after you cook the oatmeal and voila–in a few seconds, your oatmeal bowl will feel like cheesecake! Coconut flour is also a great source of healthy fat and fiber, which will keep you even more satisfied after breakfast.
- Bananas. Any fruit with a smooth, creamy and sticky consistency will add a little bit of volume and a lot of sweetness to your oatmeal. You will have to add a pretty large amount for a dramatic difference. Don’t have bananas? Some good substitutions are mashed avocado, applesauce, pumpkin, pureed fruit, mashed berries and more!
- Smoothies. Yep, your acai bowl could double as a thickener! It’s because of the liquid and fibers from the fruit! Pour it in afterwards, because cooking it with the oats tastes funny IMO. It would probably taste fine if it were bananas or berries, but otherwise, this is better for overnight oatmeal. Mangoes, in particular, are incredible for this season!
- Sweet potatoes. Only if you mash it really well. They’re quite frustrating to stir if you mash it with a fork, so for best results, do blend it with cashew milk or almond milk. You can cook them into the oats or stir them afterwards. I personally find the latter to be much easier and it still mixes in well with all the flavors. These are great for adding fiber, vitamin A, potassium, iron and healthy carbs to stabilize blood sugars and fill you up too!
- Chia seeds. Or flax seeds, sesame seeds, whatever floats your boat! Especially if you make chia eggs before hand by soaking them in water overnight, you have a moist, pudding-like mixture that’ll make your oats crayyyyy nutritious and satisfying. Grinding up your seeds make them less chewy, easier to absorb the omega-3s and less likely to stick in your teeth!
- Vegetables and leafy greens. WTF?! No, you’re not going to get spinach leaves in your oatmeal, unless you like chunky veggies. With the exception of zucchini, which you can grate, always blend the greens with water or milk and cook it in the oats as your primary liquid. It’s how I made my matcha kale oatmeal super thick and green! One of my favorite health and fitness Instagrammers pbeechie has an amazing oatmeal volume trick on her YouTube channel where you can blend up steamed cauliflower with almond milk and cook it with your oats. Turns out that it’s super filling and takes up a lot of flavor! Definitely check it out!
- Protein powder. Perfffff for post-workout, adding a certain type of protein powder, especially brown rice or quinoa, will definitely make your oats creamier and more flavorful. It’s better to stir the protein powder in your oatmeal after it’s completely cooked because the powder can get pretty chalky while you mix it in the liquid. Quest protein is probably the best whey I’ve used, but do let me know other dairy brands if there are any!
- Nut butter. Now THIS is probably the first thickener I’d turn to, LOL. It probably won’t make a huge difference unless you use heaping tablespoons of it. A good trick is to blend it with the same amount of nut, dairy-free milk or water, and then mix it in. Nut butter alone does make oats stick together, creamier, thicker and more satiating, but not necessarily make it seem like a larger portion. But don’t omit them, regardless!
- Xanthan gum. It is a gluten-free thickener, after all. While for cooking it’s usually used in pastries, bars, sauces and smoothies, I’m sure it’ll work in oats just fine. If you don’t have xanthan gum, obviously use the other tips above, which is what I prefer because it’s cheaper. However, xanthan gum is an easy and convenient source to turn to if you have it.
Hope these tips help you out next time you want to make a hearty breakfast bowl! Let me know how they turn out and comment below your favorite ways to thicken oats and porridge!
Link to all oatmeal recipes here: