Let the caramel apple goodness continue! So far we've had caramel apple martinis, caramel apple sangria and caramel apple pie overnight oats. This week I'm all about great big bowls of bubbling hot comfort food in the form of caramel apple oatmeal. A healthy, hearty cinnamon oatmeal topped with cinnamon-spiced apples and an enticingly sweet caramel sauce, this caramel apple oatmeal is perfect for warming you up on a chilly fall morning.
Is it okay to eat oatmeal every day?
If you're asking for my personal opinion: yes, it's okay to eat oatmeal every day. On what authority do I come to that conclusion? The fact that I do it every day without any negative results. There are some posts online which talk about how eating oatmeal might result in weight gain. But if you actually read these articles, you'll see that they're not talking about recipes like this caramel apple oatmeal making you gain weight.
The only case in which oatmeal will cause you to gain weight is if you start adding loads of high-fat, high-sugar, high-calorie extras. Yes, this caramel apple oatmeal has 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (50 calories - but you can totally substitute it for a zero-calorie alternative) and 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce (60 calories). But when you look at the dish as a whole, it only adds up to 350 calories. This is a perfectly healthy amount for a nutritious breakfast.
If you start pouring on generous lashings of syrup and cream, heaped spoonfuls of sugar and chocolate chips, or eating more than the recommended quantity of ½ cup dry oats, what started out as a healthy breakfast is going to turn into a high-calorie dessert-style meal.
So yes, it's okay to eat oatmeal every day. Just be sensible and don't add too many high-calorie extras.
Is oatmeal good for losing weight?
Yes, oatmeal is good for losing weight. There's even an entire diet based around it! But you don't have to eat oatmeal for 3 meals a day for it to help you lose weight. You can be a totally normal person, eat just one bowl of oatmeal per day for breakfast and still lose weight.
The main reasons the oatmeal diet works is because oatmeal is very low-calorie (yes, even this decadent-sounding dessert-like caramel apple oatmeal!) and full of fibre, which leaves you feeling full and less likely to snack throughout the day. Simply start your day off with a bowl of oatmeal, eat a healthy low-calorie lunch and follow that up with a healthy, low-calorie dinner.
It sounds insanely simple - that's because it is! If you need some inspiration, check out these 20 delicious healthy dinner recipes. You don't have to include workouts in your healthy eating plan. But a little bit of exercise never hurt anyone, right? (Not counting all the times I've tripped over running, obviously.) If you're new to working out, my 30-day yoga challenge for beginners is a fantastic place to start.
What's the best way to cook oatmeal?
There are many different ways to cook this type of regular ol' oatmeal, but the two most common ones are in a saucepan on the stove and in a bowl in the microwave. I think the best way is definitely in the microwave. It's quicker, easier, less involved and there's less mess to clean up after. With all these benefits, it's hard to believe anyone still makes oatmeal on the stove!
If you're new to cooking oatmeal in the microwave, I need to tell you - it's not an easy thing to do. I've been eating oatmeal in one form or another pretty much every day for years and I still sometimes get it wrong. Having to clean the microwave after an oatmeal monster climbed out of the bowl with an intent to cover everything it could get its hands on is no fun.
So if you're planning in making this caramel apple oatmeal in the microwave, scroll down for my mess-free tips!
How to cook oatmeal in the microwave
Use a large, deep bowl - this is the best possible piece of advice I can give you when it comes to cooking oatmeal in the microwave. The oats bubble up like you wouldn't believe in the cooking process.
A standard serving of dry oats is ½ cup. If you're cooking this much, I recommend using a bowl that can hold at least 2 cups in volume. This should help you avoid having to clean your microwave after an oatmeal monster invasion.
Start with short cooking times - my sweet spot for my microwave and the bowl I use is to cook the oatmeal for 1.5 minutes, remove and stir, then cook for a final 1 minute. If I leave the oatmeal in the microwave to cook for the full 2.5 minutes, it will expand out of the bowl.
Start by cooking your oatmeal for just 1 minute, removing it and stirring it, then placing it back in the microwave to cook for a further minute. Be nearby so you can open the microwave door and check how it's doing, just in case.
Overcooked oatmeal? Just add milk! - depending on what additional dry ingredients you add into your oatmeal (like cocoa powder or PB2 powdered peanut butter) you might find your oatmeal comes out the microwave in one solid piece. If this happens, just stir some more milk in until you get the right texture.
If your oatmeal is cold after adding more milk, pop it back in the microwave for 20 seconds or so. Just make sure you don't end up stuck in a circle of overcooking the oatmeal and adding more milk then putting it back in the microwave to warm up and overcooking it. You could be there forever!
How to make this caramel apple oatmeal even healthier
If you follow the original recipe in the recipe card, one (rather generous, if I do say so!) serving of caramel apple oatmeal is just 350 calories. Experts say you should aim to eat 350-500 calories for breakfast which puts this oatmeal well within the healthy breakfast range. But if you do want to reduce the calories even further (or lower the calorie count so you can add more caramel sauce - now there's an idea!) there are a few things you can do.
Substitute brown sugar for a zero-calorie alternative. 1 tablespoon of brown sugar contains around 50 calories. So if you use a zero-calorie artificial sweetener, you've instantly lowered the calorie count for this caramel apple pie oatmeal to 300 calories.
I recommend choosing a zero-calorie sweetener that you already enjoy. Avoid strong-flavoured ones, such as Stevia, which will totally change the taste of the oatmeal.
Use skimmed/fat-free milk. I know the recipe already calls for skimmed milk, but there is a calorie difference between skimmed milk, semi-skimmed milk and full-fat milk. You might not think such small numbers matter, but if you're counting calories, 35 is a big difference if there's a lower-calorie alternative!
- ½ cup skimmed milk: 40 calories
- ½ cup semi-skimmed milk: 60 calories
- ½ cup full fat milk: 75 calories
More healthy oatmeal recipes you'll love
- Caramel Apple Pie Overnight Oats - okay, so this is technically an overnight oats recipe (not an oatmeal recipe) but chances are, if you like this caramel apple oatmeal, you'll love the overnight oats version!
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Oatmeal - who can say no to eating cookie dough for breakfast and still being able to call it healthy?
- Paleo Oatmeal with Chocolate and Raspberries - if you're cutting carbs or following the paleo diet, this recipe is a fantastic way to get your oatmeal fix without the oats.
Caramel Apple Oatmeal
- 1 small apple
- ½ cup oats
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar you can substitute a zero-calorie sweetener
- ½ cup skimmed milk you can substitute a vegan milk
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon divided into 2
- 1 tablespoon caramel sauce
- Peel, core and halve the apple. Put 1 half to one side and chop the remaining half into into small chunks.
- Place into a microwave-safe dish and toss with ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Cook in the microwave for 2 minutes until soft.
- In a medium-size bowl, stir together the oats, sugar, milk, water and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Place in the microwave and cook for 1.5 minutes. Remove from the microwave, stir and cook for a further 1 minute.
- Pile the apple chunks on top of the hot oatmeal and drizzle with caramel sauce before serving.