If you’re looking for a very hearty and nutritious breakfast that’s in line with the Mediterranean diet, this oatmeal recipe is a perfect option. It contains healthy ingredients, including whole grains, fruit, and nuts, and it’s easy to make. I hope you give this Mediterranean diet oatmeal for breakfast a try. With endless variations, there’s no way you can’t find something you’ll enjoy.
A Brief Intro to the Mediterranean Diet
If you’re like most people, you probably think of the Mediterranean diet as a heart-healthy way to eat. And it is! The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases.
Overall, the Mediterranean diet is more than just a set of guidelines for healthy eating. It’s a way of life. People who live in the Mediterranean region have been eating this way for centuries.
The basis of the Mediterranean diet is simple: eat mostly plants, including lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds; use healthy fats like olive oil instead of butter; and enjoy moderate amounts of fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy. What’s more, red wine is optional but encouraged in moderation.
What’s more, research shows that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in men. And another recent analysis found that women who followed a Mediterranean diet had a 24% lower risk of heart disease and a 23% lower risk of death than women who did not follow the diet (1). That’s pretty impressive!
Nonetheless, if you’re interested in trying the Mediterranean diet, but not sure where to start, oatmeal is a great option.
Want to learn more about the Mediterranean diet? Check out Mediterranean Diet For Beginners (Get Started Today!)
A Typical Mediterranean Breakfast
There are many breakfast options to choose from if you want to eat like those living in countries surrounding the Mediterranean.
In fact, the non-profit organization Oldways, states that people from the Mediterranean enjoy a variety of the following foods for breakfast:
- Eggs– these are a good source of protein and can be cooked in many different ways. They may be eaten alone or combined with other ingredients such as in a dish called shakshuka (eggs poached in tomato sauce).
- Yogurt– Tahini yogurt or traditional Greek yogurt can be eaten with fruit, nuts, and honey.
- Fruit– apricots, dates, figs, cherries, grapes, melons, and peaches are delicious options.
- Bread– flatbreads drizzled with olive oil, soft cheese, dips, and/or zaatar spice are traditional ways to enjoy bread in the Mediterranean.
- Pastries– a small number of sweets may also be included, such as Baklava, Kunafa, Maamoul, or Atayef.
- Cheese– both soft cheeses and hard cheeses are enjoyed along with other healthy options.
- Olives– a variety of local olives provide filling and healthy fats to a Mediterranean diet breakfast.
- Vegetables– raw, cooked, or pickled vegetables are eaten in various ways, such as in a cucumber and tomato salad.
- Beans– cooked beans, such as fava beans or chickpeas are a staple. Chickpeas prepared into hummus may also be a breakfast option.
These options can be combined in endless combinations to create a healthy meal.
A final breakfast option from the Mediterranean diet is oatmeal. You can enjoy it hot or cold, and there are many ways to flavor it for a delicious breakfast that will start your day off right.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a popular breakfast food that has a wide range of health benefits. It is a type of whole grain that is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. One of the most notable benefits of oatmeal is its ability to lower cholesterol levels. The soluble fiber in oatmeal can help reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream, which can lower the risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that consuming oatmeal regularly can lead to a significant decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Another benefit of oatmeal is its ability to stabilize blood sugar levels. We digest the complex carbohydrates in oatmeal slowly, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and prevents spikes and crashes. This makes oatmeal an excellent breakfast option for individuals with diabetes or those looking to manage their blood sugar levels.
Third, oatmeal is a great source of energy. It is rich in carbohydrates, which are the body’s primary source of energy. Oatmeal is a low-glycemic index food, which means it can provide sustained energy without causing a rapid spike in blood sugar levels.
Additionally, oatmeal is incredibly versatile. You can prepare oatmeal in a variety of ways, from traditional hot oatmeal, to overnight oats, oatmeal smoothies, and even oatmeal cookies.
With so many health benefits and delicious ways to prepare it, oatmeal is a nutritious and satisfying addition to any diet.
Which Type of Oats is Best?
There are many different types of oats available in the market. And each has its own unique characteristics that make it suitable for different purposes. How do you know which one to choose? Which type of oat is healthiest? Well, it’s all in the processing. Below I explain 6 common forms of oats from least processed to most processed.
Whole Oat Groats
Whole oat groats are the least processed form of oats. They contain the entire oat kernel with the hull removed. Here, the endosperm, germ, and bran are all intact.
Oat groats take the longest to cook and have a nutty flavor and chewy texture. You can eat them hot in a cereal form or grind them to make oat flour.
Steel-cut oats, also called Irish oats, are made by chopping oat groats into small pieces. They contain the endosperm, germ, and bran. Steel-cut oats have a chewy texture.
Additionally, steel-cut oats take less time to cook than oat groats, but longer to cook than rolled oats. Steel-cut oats are a good choice for making savory dishes like pilaf or adding to soups.
Scottish oats are similar to steel-cut oats. The difference is that they are ground into smaller pieces to create a finer texture. They are creamier in consistency and cook faster than steel-cut oats, making them a good choice for porridge.
Old-fashioned oats, also known as rolled oats, are the most popular type of oats in the United States. They are made by steaming oat groats and then rolling them into flat flakes. Rolled oats cook quickly, making them perfect for making oatmeal, granola, and baked goods.
Overall, rolled oats are the most versatile and widely used type of oats. Although each type has its own unique benefits in specific recipes. It’s worth trying out different types of oats to find the one that works best for you.
Related Recipe: Cookie Butter Overnight Oats (using old-fashioned oats)
Quick oats, also known as instant oats, are rolled oats that have been cut into smaller pieces and pre-cooked. They cook very quickly, making them a convenient option for busy mornings. One downside is that they may contain added sugars, flavors, or other additives.
Oat bran is the outer layer of the oat grain. It is rich in fiber, protein, and other nutrients. Oat bran can add fiber to baked goods, smoothies, or yogurt.
Overall, it is worth noting that the processing of oats can affect their nutritional content. Whole oat groats and steel-cut oats are the most nutritious forms of oats, as they contain the entire grain and have the most fiber.
For this Mediterranean diet oatmeal recipe, I suggest using Scottish oats or old-fashioned oats. This is because of the nutritional benefits, texture, and quicker cooking time.
Ingredients for Mediterranean Diet Oatmeal
Rolled Oats– also known as old-fashioned oats, can be cooked quickly. Oats also contain beta-glucan which is a soluble fiber that can lower lipid levels and inflammatory markers in your body.
Almond Milk– I like the mild taste of unsweetened almond milk, which allows me to add my own sweetener of choice to taste. This is also a vegan and plant-based diet-friendly ingredient. To switch things up, try soy, oat, rice, or other types of milk.
Dates– these Mediterranean jewels add natural sweetness, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals including vitamin B6, folate, niacin, magnesium, and potassium. I use about 4 pitted Medjool dates in this recipe (2 dates per serving).
Almonds– adding almonds provides protein, healthy fats, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus among other nutrients.
Walnuts– for a boost of omega-3 fatty acids, I add walnuts. Furthermore, eating more walnuts may benefit brain health, heart health, and inflammatory diseases.
Flaxseeds– Ground flaxseed is an excellent way to add fiber and omega-3s to your diet.
Blueberries– There is nothing better than fresh blueberries in oatmeal. They provide a major antioxidant boost. Feel free to add a mix of fresh berries for more complex flavors and colors!
Banana– bananas add more natural sweetness along with fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, and other antioxidants and phytonutrients. They also help support digestive and cardiovascular health.
Cinnamon– I add only a small amount of cinnamon here- 1 teaspoon. This is just the right amount to add warmth to this healthy Mediterranean diet oatmeal recipe. As an alternative, you can experiment with other spices such as nutmeg, cloves, apple pie spice, or pumpkin pie spice.
Vanilla Extract– adding vanilla extract after you take the oats off the heat adds a stronger vanilla flavor which goes perfectly in this recipe.
Honey– the subtle sweetness from honey is all you need to finish off the oatmeal itself. Not too much and not too little. You can easily substitute honey for maple syrup if you follow a vegan diet.
How to Make Mediterranean Diet Oatmeal
Time needed: 20 minutes
Making Mediterranean Diet Oatmeal
- Cook your oats.
Begin by adding the almond milk to your medium-sized saucepan along with the rolled oats and cinnamon. Stir, cover, and bring the mixture to a simmer for 8-10 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
After the oats are soft, remove from the heat and add the ground flaxseeds and vanilla extract.
- Pour into bowls.
Pour about 1 cup each of hot oatmeal into two bowls and prepare to add your toppings.
- Add your toppings.
Divide the remaining topping ingredients between the two bowls of oatmeal and arrange them in whichever aesthetically pleasing way you wish. This is where you can get creative! Make it as beautiful or messy as you want.
- Serve and enjoy.
Finally, get ready to enjoy a super hearty and filling breakfast that provides over half your day’s worth of fiber and will keep you full until lunch guaranteed!
Variations on Mediterranean Diet Oatmeal
There are many different options to choose from when it comes to oatmeal toppings. For instance, here are some toppings and mix-ins that you can add to oatmeal while following a Mediterranean diet:
- Fresh fruit: Top your oatmeal with fresh berries, sliced banana, diced apple, or any other type of fruit you like. Fruits are an important part of the Mediterranean diet and are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Nuts and seeds: Add some crunch and healthy fats to your oatmeal by topping it with almonds, walnuts, pecans, chia seeds, flaxseeds, or pumpkin seeds. Nuts and seeds are rich in nutrients and can help keep you feeling full and satisfied.
- Greek yogurt: For a creamy and protein-packed addition to your oatmeal, stir in some Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is a staple in the Mediterranean diet and can help boost the protein content of your breakfast.
- Honey: For a touch of sweetness, drizzle some honey over your oatmeal. Honey is a natural sweetener that those in Mediterranean regions commonly use.
- Cinnamon: Sprinkle some cinnamon over your oatmeal for a warm and comforting flavor. Cinnamon is a common spice in Mediterranean cooking that has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Dried fruit: If you prefer dried fruit over fresh, add some chopped dates, figs, or raisins to your oatmeal. Dried fruit is a good source of fiber and can add natural sweetness to your breakfast.
Save or print the following list to help you build a healthy oatmeal bowl:
FAQ for Mediterranean Diet Oatmeal
Steel cut, Scottish, and rolled oats will produce the best results in terms of health benefits and texture.
Oats that are highly processed or commercially prepared with added ingredients such as sugars should be avoided while following a Mediterranean diet.
Looking for more recipes that fit the Mediterranean way of life? Try some of these:
- Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- Turmeric Balls: The Anti-Inflammatory Pick-Me-Up
- Roasted Vegetable Medley
- Grilled Chicken Summer Salad
How about more healthy breakfast options?
- 7 Healthy Aging Breakfasts [Dietitian Approved] from Kathryn Piper RDN LD NBC-HWC
- High-Fiber Cherry Banana Smoothie: A Delicious Way to Start Your Day! from Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, RDN
- 5 Ingredient Healthy Banana Cinnamon Pancakes
- Green Passion Smoothie (COPYCAT)
Mediterranean Diet Oatmeal
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 2 cups almond milk unsweetened
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed
- ½ cup almonds chopped
- ½ cup walnuts chopped
- 4 dates chopped
- ½ cup fresh berries blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries work well
- 1 medium banana sliced
- 2 tablespoon honey
- In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the oats, almond milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract.
- Bring to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until oats are at the desired consistency.
- Remove from heat and add flaxseeds and vanilla extract.
- Divide oatmeal evening among two serving bowls.
- Divide each of the remaining ingredients in half and arrange evenly between the two bowls, placing them however you'd like.
- Try a variety of other nuts or seeds such as sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pecans, or cashews.
- If you don’t have any nuts, try adding nut butters instead.
- Vary the types of fresh fruit for added color and nutrients- try strawberries, raspberries, peach slices, apples, pear chunks, or mango slices.
- To decrease calories or total fat, you may omit or reduce the amount of nuts.
- To make this recipe vegan-friendly, add maple syrup in place of honey.
Feel free to pin this recipe to save and share with others.
Kiran Campbell is a registered dietitian and entrepreneur with 13 years of experience. She has a degree in psychology as well as dietetics. She is also a proud member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ and its Cardiovascular Health and Well-being Dietetics Practice Group among others. Kiran proudly presents and promotes the most up-to-date, science-based nutrition information on all things heart-related. She aims to serve not only individuals with heart disease, but also those wanting to protect against it. Learn more about Kiran by visiting her About Page.