Winter hasn't quite left us and it’s still nice to wake up to a warm bowl of creamy, hearty oatmeal. But day after day might have got you stuck in a rut and bored with the same old way you make it. It’s time to lighten it up and add some spring to your oatmeal steps!

First of all, be bold and swap out your instant, quick or rolled oats for Steel (or Irish) Cut Oats. These whole oats are the most nutritious and have a coarse, nutty texture. Go wild and soak your oats! Soaking your oats makes it easier to digest and you’ll get the maximum amount of nutrients.  Soaking gets rid of phytic acid which blocks absorption of important minerals and vitamins.(You can soak your oats the night before and  add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to the water and yes, soak ANY type of oats you may have) An added benefit of pre-soaking oats  is they will cook faster! Now that it’s getting warmer, try skipping the cooking all together and just add your toppings (see below) and enjoy!

Here are some ways to spice up your morning oatmeal. My favorite combo is apples & cinnamon. It’s so sweet from the apples (which I cook with the skin on, in a little water and with many generous shakes of cinnamon), you won’t even miss the added sweeteners like brown sugar or maple syrup!

Be creative, keep it healthy and see how tasty your every day oatmeal can be!

1. Spice it Up! My favorite, cinnamon, is a warming spice. It improves circulation, energy, vitality and brain function. Try ginger and nutmeg too! For a boost of sweetness add vanilla. This tasty, calming addition pairs well with bananas and chopped walnuts.
 
2. Dried Fruits to Nuts – Swap your routine raisins for Goji berries (found in health food stores or Whole Foods). Goji berries are packed full of antioxidants, amino acids and essential fatty acids. I love the chewy sweetness of these pink little guys! Add some raw almonds or raw cashews for protein and an added crunch. For a natural sweetener, I like to occasionally add some chopped dates.
 
3. Very Berry – Add blueberries, strawberries, raspberries…you get the idea. Fresh picked organic berries are the best, but frozen works too!
 
4. Taste of the Tropics - Add unsweetened coconut flakes, unsweetened dried mango slices (chopped up) and fresh slices of banana. Bananas are a good source of potassium and helps relieve stress and depression.
 
5. Fantastic Flax – Give your oatmeal an energy and fiber boost! To add a nutty flavor and to get your Omega-3’s, sprinkle some ground flax seed on top.  

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