8 Delicious Ways to Add Oats to Your Diet

We’re all familiar with oatmeal at breakfast, but did you know that oats are also used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes all around the world? Zara Awan, a Nutritionist with the Mary's Center WIC Program, says oats are popular because they are inexpensive, nutritious and satisfying. Oats are low in fat, and packed with fiber and vitamin B, calcium, potassium and iron. Whole grains like the ones found in oats can also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, the soluble fiber in oats (beta-glucan) has been linked to lower cholesterol and keeps you feeling fuller for longer, making it the perfect staple to include in a heart-healthy diet. Here are some great ideas from Zara to help you incorporate this nutritious, satisfying, inexpensive  and very versatile ingredient throughout your day.


Overnight Oats (shown below)
A great, quick and filling breakfast choice that you can keep in the fridge all week is overnight oats. Soak your oats for 12 hours or more hours in any 100% fruit juice or, for a creamier consistency, milk or yogurt. Add your choice of seeds, nuts and fruit and you have a tasty grab-and-go breakfast!

When choosing cereals, navigate through the aisle, avoid the cereals that have excess sugar and instead opt for an oat-based cereal like muesli and oat bran cereals.

Need a protein boost in your breakfast smoothie? A quarter-cup of oats provides you with 13 percent of your daily recommended amount of protein. Adding oats to your smoothie will also make it nice and thick.

overnight oats



 Adding croutons or fried chips may give your salad extra crunch, but it will also add an unnecessary amount of calories and fat. Avoid that by putting oats on top of your salad instead. Pair with nuts or dried fruit and you got yourself a nutrient-packed and flavorful lunch.



Savory Oatmeal
Who said that oatmeal has to be sweet? Try this savory treat: Mix oats, water, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, and simmer until the oats are tender. Turn off the heat and stir in any cheese or meat of your liking. Top your dish with an egg and your choice of veggies and you got yourself a quick and nutritious dinner.

Bulk Up Your Main Course

When creating alternative meat dishes like veggie burgers or meatballs, it may be difficult to achieve the perfect texture. By adding oats, you can bulk up your dishes and create the best vegetarian burgers or meatballs. You can actually do the same with beef or turkey burgers as well.

Crispy Coating
Want some extra crunch in your favorite meat dishes? Oat bran is a perfect alternative to breadcrumbs. This healthier option can give your favorite chicken or fish dishes an amazing crunch. Oat bran also adds more fiber and nutrients compared to breadcrumbs, and you won’t even be able to taste a difference.




Looking for a dessert that you won’t feel guilty about? You can make the delicious cookies by substituting oats for flour, and using natural sugar like agave or honey. One amazing thing about oats is that they can be used as a binding agent to achieve perfect cookie dough.  You can finally make a dessert that will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth while still keeping you healthy!

You can even use your favorite cake recipe with this method as well.  Experiment with the recipes by using rolled oats to replace some of the flour!


WIC logo


#WICTip: If you are a DC WIC participant, you can buy oats in 2 ways. The first option is with the whole grain choice on your WIC Vouchers. You also have another opportunity to get instant oatmeal and other oatmeal cereal with the cereal option on your vouchers.



Zara AwanAbout Zara Awan

Zara Awan is a Nutritionist in Mary’s Center’s WIC Program. She sees participants at the site on Georgia Avenue in Washington, DC.  She obtained a BS in Dietetics from Michigan State University, and completed her research-focused dietetic internship at Virginia State University. She is currently taking her last steps in becoming a Registered Dietitian. Zara enjoys strawberries, broccoli and avocados as snacks and believes it’s important to paint your plate with different fruits and vegetables. She loves baking, running, reading, traveling and spending time with family and friends. She speaks fluent English and Urdu and basic Arabic. Zara says: “I have always had a passion for serving others especially when it comes to nutrition and I enjoy guiding clients to help them create healthy lifestyles through the Mary's Center WIC program.”

Learn more about the Mary’s Center WIC program and download the free WIC recipe book.

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