The lines are blurred when it comes to oats. They're a breakfast stand-out, providing a nutritionally sound start to your day, but they're also the perfect dessert ingredient.
Here's why: A cup of cooked oats clocks in at just 166 calories and boasts 4 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein and a handful of nutrients including iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese and selenium. Oats' mild flavor pairs well with everything from chocolate to berries and bananas — and their texture is ideal for cookies, bars and cobblers.
That's why we rounded up six of our favorite oat-based desserts, which pull double-duty as breakfast on those mornings you're craving something sweet.
1. 3-Ingredient Banana Bread Cookies
This recipe has a lot going for it: First, it's beloved banana bread, but as a cookie. It's also just three-ingredients, requiring 20 minutes from start to finish and is free of added sugars, deeming it a healthy dessert and a solid breakfast — whichever you choose.
We've got a sweet spot for added sugars and it isn't serving us well. Americans currently take in 77 grams of added sugar per day, according to the American Heart Association. That's more than three times the daily recommended limit.
Are You Taking in Too Much Sugar?
Get the 3-Ingredient Banana Bread Cookies recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Healthy Strawberry Oat Bars
Another delicious dessert/breakfast combo, these strawberry oat bars are free of added sugar. And all you need to whip them up are rolled oats, dates, macadamia nuts, fresh strawberries and sea salt — that's it.
Most of us are aware that strawberries are packed with nutrients, including antioxidants, but it's the oats in this recipe that offer a surprising dose of these phytonutrients, too.
It turns out oats are the only food to contain an anti-inflammatory antioxidant called avenanthramides, which is thought to have protective properties against coronary heart disease, colon cancer and skin irritation, according to a December 2009 paper published in Nutrition Reviews.
Get the Healthy Strawberry Oat Bars recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Cherry-Mango Crumble
Crumble for breakfast? When it features cherries and mangoes and is paired with oat flour and rolled oats, we're all for it.
Carbs — oats included — are often shunned by low-carb diets and their followers. But research shows this belief is ill-informed, especially when it comes to oats.
Researchers tested oatmeal against an oat-based cold cereal and found that the beta-glucan in oats caused a greater increase in fullness along with reduced hunger and desire to eat after eating the oatmeal compared to the ready-to-eat cereal. The oatmeal group also ate less at the following meal (lunch), per the August 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Get the Cherry-Mango Crumble recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Raw Oat Cacao Cookie Bites
These bites are perfect for the mornings you find yourself in a rush. Make them in advance (they last for up to three days in the fridge) and grab a couple as you head out the door.
Oats are made up of both insoluble and soluble fiber, as outlined by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Insoluble fiber is what helps keep things moving along (in other words, prevents constipation) and soluble fiber helps lower LDL cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar levels and promotes satiety.
Get the Raw Oat Cacao Cookie Bites recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Strawberry and Peach Oat Parfait
The parfaits you find in grab-n-go places aren't ideal for your healthy-eating goals. Usually topped with granola and mixed with sweetened yogurt, they're a sugar bomb that can send your blood sugar levels skyrocketing.
That's not the case with this parfait. Because this calls for overnight oats, we recommend sticking with instant or rolled oats. Steer clear of steel-cut or groats if you want that softer oatmeal texture in the morning — and don't snub instant oats.
Instant oatmeal was found to be better at suppressing appetite, increasing satiety and reducing total calorie intake than an oat-based breakfast cereal in an August 2015 Journal of the American College of Nutrition study.
Get the Strawberry and Peach Oat Parfait recipe and nutrition info here.
6. 5-Ingredient Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
This recipe is a healthier and simpler take on the classic oatmeal raisin cookie and made with just five ingredients — bananas, oats, raisins, cinnamon and coconut oil. These cookies are also vegan, free of added sugars and gluten-free.
If you avoid gluten because of an intolerance or sensitivity, you'll want to make sure you check for a "gluten-free" label on your oats' packaging. Oats are naturally gluten-free but cross-contamination is common in oats with the way they're manufactured, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
Get the 5-Ingredient Oatmeal Raisin Cookies recipe and nutrition info here.
- MyFoodData: "Cooked Oatmeal"
- American Heart Association: "How Much Sugar Is Too Much?"
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: "Instant Oatmeal Increases Satiety and Reduces Energy Intake Compared to a Ready-to-Eat Oat-Based Breakfast Cereal: A Randomized Crossover Trial"
- Harvard Health: "Oats"
- Celiac Disease Foundation: "Oats and the Gluten-Free Diet"
- Nutrition Reviews: "Potential Health Benefits of Avenanthramides of Oats"