Protein Oatmeal, a combination of oats, liquids, protein powder, and/or egg whites, is taking the internet by storm in the latest health food craze. I, for one, am certainly on board. Before 2020, I thought that oatmeal was a product that only came in little packets that inevitably spilled over and made a huge mess when cooked in the microwave. In early 2021 when I started my fitness journey, I would come to know oatmeal more intimately than the ultra-processed quick cooked oats of my youth.
I needed a tasty and filling high-protein breakfast food, but it also needed to be something I could grab-and-go or quickly make in the morning. Overnight oats, ones that "cook" by soaking in liquid and other ingredients (basically the oatmeal equivalent of cold brew) are very popular, so I decided to give them a try. After scouring Pinterest and Instagram for recipes, I tried several of them. Overnight oats are very creamy, and there's tons of room for mixing and matching different ingredients, but I discovered that I do not like cold oats. As I was eating them, I was basically just trying to get through each bite without actually enjoying the food, which defeated the purpose of my search. Even though overnight oats were not the solution, I knew I wanted to eat more oats in a different form.
The almighty IG algorithm must have sensed my distaste because on my "explore" page, I started seeing pictures of something called baked oats. #BakedOats is currently tagged in over 270,000 posts, so needless to say they are very popular with endless variations. Base recipes tend to include a serving of old-fashioned oats, milk of any kind, a sweetener, add-ins such as chocolate chips, and toppings. Most baked oats recipes easily incorporate protein powder (I use Vital Proteins Performance Powder), and the result is a high-protein meal that tastes like dessert.
However, the preparation and cook time is a major downside to baked oats. While single-serving baking may use the same ingredients in lower quantities for a smaller result, it still uses the same amount of effort as baking a full-sized dessert. Sometimes you just need to shove calories in your face before or after a workout, and you don't have time to search for the baking powder that somehow always gets pushed to the back of the cabinet. That's where Swole Woman's, aka Casey Johnston, recipe for Swoalts comes in handy. As I progressed in my strength training, I found myself needing more and more protein, and these oats were a lifesaver. This recipe is a good starting point for folks who want to increase their protein intake in an easy and low-stakes way. The base recipe has 36g alone! Now, because I'm not the biggest fan of cold oats and I have a dairy sensitivity, I use the hot oats variation with egg whites, and it still clocks in at 32g of protein. What a great way to start the day, and it's so easy to make.
If you're looking for an easy high protein food that's highly customizable, consider introducing protein oatmeal to your home cooking repertoire. They can be made as sweet or savory as you want. I guarantee anyone can find a version that suits their lifestyle and taste buds.