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Time-Saving Oatmeal Hacks That Will Completely Change Your Morning

Easy Oatmeal Upgrades

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Oatmeal might sound like the most basic breakfast ever, but rest assured, it doesn't have to be. There are easy ways to upgrade your oats that don't require any cooking skills whatsoever, or—more importantly—any extra time.

These hacks only take about two minutes each (no more than it would normally take you to whip up a bowl of the instant stuff), but they have the added nutritional benefits (plus flavor!) that will help you start your day off strong.

Zucchini Oatmeal

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Zucchini oatmeal (or "zoats", as die-hard fans have named them) might sound suspicious, but we promise that you can't taste the veggies one bit. The zucchini adds volume to your bowl without adding a ton of calories (just nine calories per 1/2 cup). (BTW, you can also put shredded zucchini in cookies. Mind = blown.)

Ingredients
1/2 cup zucchini, grated
1/2 cup quick oats
1 cup water or milk

Directions
1. Shred zucchini in a cheese grater or pulse in a food processor.
2. Stir into bowl with cup quick oats and water or milk.
3. Microwave on high for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.
4. Stir, and add toppings of choice.

Vanilla Protein Powder Oatmeal

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One scoop of vanilla protein powder will add a hefty dose of protein (usually around 20 grams, depending on the brand) to your breakfast, as well as some sweet flavor (minus the sugar). It's perfect for pairing with chopped nuts and fresh fruit for a healthy meal that's also good if you're constantly on the move.

Ingredients
1/2 cup quick oats
1 cup water or milk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Directions
1. Add quick oats and water to bowl and stir.
2. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in protein powder.
3. Add toppings of choice.

Mashed Banana Oatmeal

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If you've only been slicing a banana on to the top of your oatmeal, this tip will make you wonder if you've been doing it all wrong. Cooking the banana mixed in with your oats makes it taste (and smell!) like warm, gooey, freshly-baked banana bread. Top with cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped nuts, and a sprinkle of brown sugar for a breakfast that's basically dessert in a bowl.

Ingredients
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup quick oats
1 cup water or milk

Directions
1. Peel and mash banana in the bottom of a bowl.
2. Add quick oats and water or milk and stir. Microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes.
3. Remove from microwave, stir, and add toppings of choice.

Pumpkin Oatmeal

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It doesn't have to be autumn for you to enjoy pumpkin! This oatmeal is like the breakfast food equivalent of a pumpkin spice latte that you can enjoy year-round. Pro tip: Make sure you're using pumpkin puree (which contains only pumpkin) and not pumpkin pie filling (which has added spices and sweeteners). This ingredient will not only make your morning oats taste like a crisp October day, but will fill you up for only 50 additional calories. (Try these other 20 Ways to Sneak Pumpkin Into Any Meal to use up the rest of that canned puree.)

Ingredients
1/2 cup quick oats
1 cup water or milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree

Directions
1. Add quick oats and water or milk to a bowl and stir. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
2. Stir in 1/2 cup pumpkin puree. Microwave on high for 30 seconds.
3. Stir and add toppings of choice.

Chocolate Protein Powder Oatmeal

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Chocolate protein powder is the magical ingredient in this oatmeal hack that allows you to have sweets for breakfast. (P.S. Here are other Tasty Ways to Sneak Protein Powder Into Your Meals.) Try toppings that keep those dessert vibes going, like cacao nibs, maple syrup, banana slices, nut butter, dates, or chopped nuts.

Ingredients
1/2 cup quick oats
1 cup water or milk
1 scoop chocolate protein powder

Directions
1. Add quick oats and water to bowl and stir.
2. Microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in protein powder.
3. Add toppings of choice.

Egg White Oatmeal

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Because egg whites are virtually tasteless, you can make this oatmeal savory or sweet depending on your preference. Try toppings like avocado, soft-boiled egg, and tomatoes (we love a little salsa for a Mexican-inspired twist), or stir in peanut butter and cinnamon for a sweeter treat that's still high in protein. (Just 3/4 cup of egg whites offers nearly 20 grams).

Ingredients
3/4 cup egg whites
1/2 cup quick oats
1 cup water or milk

Directions
1. Stir egg whites into a bowl with quick oats and water or milk.
2. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, stirring after 1 minute and then again ever 30 seconds until three minutes are up.
3. Give it a final stir before adding your toppings of choice.

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