Probably THE most viewed post on my blog of all time is my article titled “Foods That Increase Oatmeal Volume or Thickness“. I am pretty shocked that this one is a readers’ favorite, because it was one of my first posts that I made when I was still getting to know the blogging world! More importantly, I genuinely felt that there was a pretty big emphasis on the Paleo diet (there still is, in many ways), so a lot of people were ditching this carb-based breakfast for eggs and such.
At first, I didn’t plan on making a follow-up post to that list, but upon ditching my go-to egg whites as an oatmeal thickener, I soon discovered that there are still SO many ingredients to play with when it comes to increasing volume and/or thickness! Again, I did extensive research and some trial-and-error on many of these ingredients to compile this list. Without further ado, let’s get into another set of ten foods that can increase oatmeal volume and/or thickness!
- Tofu. This soy-based favorite of many may strike a displeasing taste in the mouth when combined with oatmeal, but bear with me on this one. Think about savory oats and tofu scrambles. You could cook up a mean bowl of turmeric oats with curried cubes of tofu. Makes a bit more sense, right? Now, remember recipes for silken tofu chocolate pudding, vegan tofu cheesecake, and even tofu banana smoothies? Well, there you go. Silken tofu has the perfect consistency and softness for any oatmeal recipe. Simply blend half a block of silken, soft, or even firm tofu with non-dairy milk and combine with the oatmeal. I recommend not cooking the tofu liquid mixture because the soy may form a curdled gel if it becomes too hot.
- Cashews (blended with some kind of liquid). How many times have you seen cashews in a vegan recipe for cheese, ice cream, icing, frosting, cheesecake, pie, soup, curry, salad dressing, cream, and mousse? I’ve seen them around almost too many times, and for a good reason. So, I haven’t found what it is that makes cashews so special for these types of recipes, but you don’t really find the property of creaminess and mildness in other nuts, such as almonds (not mild) or peanuts (not creamy). Anyways, here’s how to use cashews to thicken oatmeal: soak around one cup of cashews in water for at least two hours (ideally overnight). Rinse and strain them thoroughly, and blend with around a fourth of a cup of liquid until smooth. Add some cream to the cooked oatmeal and serve. Take note: as nuts, cashews are very calorie-dense, so keep the portion to a fourth of a cup or less if you’re trying to lose weight.
- Psyllium husk. Known as a fiber supplement, psyllium husk is a favorite for pancakes, waffles, breads, cakes, and so much more. I even saw a recipe for cookies that used Metamucil! Personally, I never found it necessary to use psyllium husk, but it is an amazing way to regulate your digestive system, lower your cholesterol, and curb your appetite. It’s almost a no-brainer that psyllium husk will work magically when thickening your oatmeal.
- Butternut squash. Why didn’t I think of this one earlier?! Yeah yeah, I included sweet potato and pumpkin in my last list, but I think butternut squash deserves its own pedestal for this one. Sweet potato and canned pumpkin tend to hold a lot more moisture, whereas roasted butternut squash tends to be more dry. On top of that, butternut squash is amazing for savory oatmeal because it doesn’t have the same sweetness! You can use the butternut squash similarly to how you’d use mashed banana, applesauce, and more in your oatmeal. It will work fantastically!
- Arrowroot starch or cornstarch. These bad-boys will most definitely do the trick in thickening oatmeal. They’re known to be fat-free substitutes in recipes and thickeners for many Asian dishes. I like using cornstarch if I find that I’ve added a little too much liquid in a curry or oatmeal. Only use around one or two tablespoons, since a little goes a long way!
- Agar-agar or, if not vegan, gelatin. For those of you who do not know what agar-agar is, this is basically a derivative from the cell wall supporters found in algae, and is an amazing plant-based alternative to gelatin, which is made from animal bones. Though agar-agar is more commonly used in gummy and jelly candies, it works very well in puddings, cakes, cookies, and other pastries, so why not try it in oatmeal? Agar-agar is basically tasteless and odorless, but texture-wise, the oatmeal might be a bit gummy. Use two teaspoons per cup of liquid.
- Beans. Otherwise, the magical legume (no, beans aren’t fruits). Well-done beans can add the perfect creaminess and volume to savory oats (hummus, anyone?). While oats and beans may not seem compatible, you will be surprised once you realize how well they work together! Pureed garbanzo beans may even serve well in sweet oatmeal since it’s often used for dessert recipes. Just make sure you don’t salt your beans prior to adding into your sweet oats!
- Chickpea flour. Speaking of legumes, I absolutely adore chickpea flour as a thickening agent for anything! Unlike most flours, chickpea flour has a starchy and fibrous factor that enables it to help thicken sauces and binder for pastries, veggie patties, and pancakes. Plus, you’ll also be getting plenty of protein and micronutrients! It adds a really nice nutty flavor as well, so it probably works better for savory oats. Simply add one or half of a serving of chickpea flour (1/4 cup or two tablespoons) to your cooked oatmeal. Enjoy!
- Aquafaba. Another reason not to dump the liquid in your can of chickpeas! Simply save the liquid in a bowl and quickly whisk it by hand or with an electric mixer until the color whitens and the consistency thickens like meringue, peaks, and does not fall out of the bowl when you tip it. There you have it–a creamy, flavorless, and seemingly decadent agent that you can mix in your cooked oatmeal for a pie-like feel!
- Oil. Definitely not the healthiest option if you are trying to cut calories and lose weight, but a little spoonful of coconut oil goes a long way. Nothing screams thickness more than fat does, especially if the fat is saturated. Do not use an oil that is low in unsaturated fat because it will not thicken up the same way. I’d recommend using a teaspoon (or two if you really want to) of coconut oil in a single-serving portion. Making more “cake-like” oatmeal recipes would definitely benefit from it!
Thank you for reading these tips and I hope you benefit from at least a few of them! Let me know if you have tried any of these hacks and what other foods you like to use to increase oatmeal volume and thickness!