Oatmeal: more than just a breakfast favorite

Heart healthy oats can be used in a whole variety of meals and dishes.

A warm bowl of oatmeal topped with fruit, cream or brown sugar is a terrific way to start the day during the throes of a blistery winter. There are great benefits to beginning each day with a heart healthy breakfast like oatmeal, but oats can be used for so much more than just breakfast! Michigan State University Extension recommends the following suggestions and recipes below.

  • Oats can be used as a binder in meatloaf and tuna patties in place of bread crumbs or crushed cereal.
  • Run oats through a food processor and use to replace flour when coating chicken or pork.
  • Try substituting finely blended oatmeal for part of the all-purpose flour in some recipes and create delicious baked treats like homemade granola, bars, and muffins.
  • Store oats in the refrigerator or freezer for long-term storage.
  • The date on the package is a “best quality” date not a food safety date.
  • Oatmeal contains no sugar but can be sweetened with raisins, other dried or fresh fruit, fruit juice, honey or brown sugar.

Oatmeal is an example of a whole grain meaning it’s full of fiber which keeps you satisfied longer.  The fiber also makes it great for the digestive track and helps with regularity.

A key recommendation of the United States Department of Agriculture and dietary guidelines is to consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. In the average 2,000 calorie diet (varies with age, activity level and gender) six ounces of grains should be consumed each day and at least three ounces of this total should come from whole grains.

Whether oatmeal as a breakfast food is a staple for you or not, MSU Extension urges you to “warm-up” to the idea of including oatmeal in other foods and meals.

A special thank you to Grand Traverse/Leelanau County MSU Extension for the recipes below (further recipe resources can be found at American Heart Association):

Veggie “Burgers”

1 3/4-2 cups cooked beans

1 1/3 cups oatmeal

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Italian or pizza seasoning

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt & pepper to taste

Mash beans until they have the texture of ground meat. Add remaining ingredients; let stand 10-15 minutes until water is absorbed. Add more water if the mixture is too dry. Heat a tablespoon of oil in skillet. Place large spoonful of bean mixture into skillet. Press into a burger shape. Cook on both sides at medium heat until browned.

Make & Bake Coating Mixes


1 cup oatmeal

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper



1 cup oatmeal

1 tablespoon dry parsley

3/4 teaspoon chili powder

3/4 teaspoon paprika

For each mix, place ingredients in blender or food processor. Cover; blend 20-30 seconds until evenly mixed. Use to coat meat, poultry, fish or potatoes; bake until done.

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup honey

1 egg

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In large bowl, beat peanut butter, honey, egg and vanilla until blended. Combine oats, brown sugar and salt. Add to peanut butter mixture; mix well and stir in chocolate chips (batter will be sticky). Spoon onto lightly greased 13x9-inch baking pan. Use spatula to press evenly in pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned. Cool on wire rack. Cut into squares or bars.

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