Breakfast is the best meal of the day, no doubt. With temperatures hitting single digits during the winter, my go-to meal in morning is some warm oatmeal. I know that oatmeal gets a bad rep for being bland, but there's potential to switch things up with innovative toppings. Here are 15 unique, healthy oatmeal toppings for the next time you're craving some oatmeal and want to spice things up in preparation for those dreaded 8 am classes. 

1. Honey

Lil Wayne once said, "Funny how honey ain't sweet like sugar," but I think that's the beauty of honey. Honey boasts a ton of health benefits, like being antibacterial and high in antioxidants. Not to mention, honey is a natural sweetener so it won't spike your blood sugar levels like processed sugars do. A drizzle of honey atop some oats provides the perfect amount of sweetness to wake you up. 

2. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the best spices in terms of taste and nutritional value, so it's no surprise that this is a perfect topping to (literally) spice your oatmeal up. From curbing nausea to fighting the common cold, a small sprinkle of cinnamon packs a ton of flavor and health benefits. 

3. Chai (Or Your Tea of Choice)

sushi, tuna, rice
Hana Brannigan

If you're looking to integrate some flavor into your oatmeal and not just atop of it, I have the hack for you. Steep tea of your choice into water or milk for about seven minutes, then add your oats for some extra flavor. Chai is perfect for this recipe because it's made of aromatic spices like cardamom and ginger to warm you up. 

4. Pecans

porridge, cereal, milk, oatmeal, sweet, muesli, rice
Christin Urso

Some people aren't big oatmeal fans because of the softer, mushier texture. To that, I say add some crunch with nuts. Specifically, I prefer pecans because of the rich, caramel-like flavor. Plus, pecans are a great source of fiber and magnesium. These guys can also help to fight infections and cancer. Talk about a game changer.

5. Yogurt

A hybrid of the two best breakfast foods, combine your oats with yogurt for a healthy dose of calcium and probiotics. If you're looking to increase your protein intake, choose Greek yogurt. Vegans, don't worry; there are vegan-friendly yogurts available for you too. Regardless of the type of yogurt you pick, you're guaranteed a creamy, filling bowl of oatmeal. 

6. Cacao Nibs

To add some crunch and get your chocolate fix, cacao nibs are the way to go. These unprocessed bits of cocoa beans are less sweet than what you might be used to, but the texture, roasted flavor, and nutritional value will keep you coming back. A great source of potassium and iron, cacao nibs give you a perfectly valid excuse to eat chocolate in the morning.

7. Molasses

Made from sugar cane with a sticky consistency, this sweetener has a more complex flavor than honey or agave. Depending on what you pair it with, you can bring out its sweeter notes or more bitter undertones. Whatever the case, this syrup has a low glycemic index, so if you're watching your sugar intake, molasses might be your new go-to sweetener.

8. Pomegranate Seeds

The queen of Snapchat, Kylie Jennifer, is obsessed with pomegranate seeds. They're a tart, candy-like fruit that just so happens to be great for your health. From stopping the growth of cancers to improving memory, pomegranate seeds are perfect for adding texture and antioxidants to your oats.

#SpoonTip: Don’t know how to cut a pomegranate? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

9. Zucchini 

You might know that zucchini noodles, or "zoodles," are a popular trend in the food world. But did you know that zoats (zucchini oats) are a thing as well? Yes, people integrated zucchini in their oatmeal to add a sneaky serving of greens and extra fiber that you honestly can't even taste. Think of it as a no-bake zucchini bread that takes a couple minutes to make.

10. Banana

milk, pasta, sweet
Megan Kotrappa

Bananas on oatmeal is a classic combination. Slicing a fresh banana atop your oatmeal is a consistent, filling way to freshen up your breakfast. Sometimes a banana is all the flavor you need. It's the epitome of healthy oatmeal toppings.

11. Peanut Butter

I'd like to think that I have self-control, but when I have a jar of peanut butter in one hand and a spoon in another, that all goes away. Peanut butter is one of those foods that I'll put in anything if I can. Peanut butter and oatmeal makes for a dynamic duo, and for good reason.

12. Almond Butter

Allergic to peanut butter, or simply not a fan? Put some almond butter atop your oatmeal instead. Though I believe both are gifts from above, almond butter does contain more vitamins and minerals that peanut butter. A tablespoon of almond butter not only keeps you full with all its monounsaturated fats, but helps to lower cholesterol as well.

#SpoonTip: Allergic to peanut butter and almond butter? Top your oatmeal with sunflower seed butter for that rich, salty flavor and a healthy dose of fats.

13. Figs

Figs aren't just for Fig Newtons. They're subtly sweet and not overpowering. Figs pair well with savory foods, so if you're feeling edgy top your oatmeal with ricotta and figs for a bowl that is both complex and tasty. It's one of the more underrated healthy oatmeal toppings.

14. Matcha

One of the trendiest food on the market, matcha features a bitter, earthy flavor and is a good source of caffeine. It's a superfood that you can drink or cook into your foods. You can sprinkle matcha powder like you would cinnamon or cook it with your oats, depending on how much flavor you're craving. 

15. Fried Egg

rice, vegetable
Becky Hughes

It's time to eliminate the preconceived notion that oatmeal is strictly a sweet breakfast. Oats are the perfect carb to serve as the base of any topping, including fried eggs. Eggs are a great source of protein and contain healthy fats that'll fuel your mornings or fill you up for dinner.

Oatmeal, I adore you. You have been there for me during my hungover brunches, my pre-workouts, and freezing mornings where I struggle to find the motivation to go to class. And I hope that you, too, can see the underrated beauty of oatmeal and give one of these healthy oatmeal toppings a try. We all deserve a big bowl of warm carbs in the morning.