The oatmeal game has changed. Yes, I said it. The days of your mom’s soupy, bland Quaker Oats are over. No longer will you be forced to drown your oats in milk and sugar in order to make them edible. Forget what you know about the oatmeal of your childhood.

Times have changed, and so has oatmeal. Imparting unto you these seven tips of oatmeal wisdom, I challenge you to rethink this underrated breakfast option. Take a chance on oatmeal, and I promise you won’t be sorry.

1. Steel Cut, Not Rolled

sweet, corn, wheat
Megan Kotrappa

First things first. Before we get carried away with extras, we have to start out with a strong, reliable base: the oats. And when it comes to oats, steel cut is the way to go. Aside from looks, steel cut oats differ from your typical rolled oats (the kind you probably remember having as a kid) in the way that they are processed.

Steel cut oats start from the same plant as rolled or instant oats; however, during processing the oats pass through sharp, steel blades that cut them into thin slices. This processing allows the oats to retain more fiber and protein. Who would say no to more fiber and protein?

2. Plant-based Milk

milk, sweet, coffee
Megan Kotrappa

No one says you have to be vegan or vegetarian to enjoy the benefits of plant-based milk. The options are endless from soy to almond to cashew and coconut, there's even oat milk! Aside from the unbelievable taste, opting for plant-based milk is an easy way to avoid piling on unwanted calories.

My personal favorite is almond milk, which is a great source of vitamin E and has 50% more calcium than dairy milk. Cooking your oats in milk makes them way more creamy and satisfying as opposed to cooking them in plain old water. And for those of you who don’t have time to cook your oats on the stovetop, don’t fret. Throwing them in the microwave works just fine.

3. Egg Whites

beer, coffee, tea
Megan Kotrappa

Yes, you heard me. Egg whites. Egg whites are one of the top sources of protein, right up there with lean meat and fish. Adding them into your oats while cooking won’t do anything to alter taste, it'll just make them even more filling so you can start your day off with the energy you need. After cooking your oats about three quarters of the way through, stir in one or two egg whites (depending on your serving size of oats) and watch your oatmeal transform into a fluffy, delightful masterpiece.

4. Ground Flaxseed

coffee, condiment, salt
Megan Kotrappa

When it comes to seeds and nuts, flaxseed is one of the most nutritious options out there. You can’t eat the seeds whole—our bodies can’t break down and digest the nutrients within—but ground flaxseed does the trick. One serving of flaxseed (about two tablespoons) is packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and (you guessed it) protein.

Just stir in a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed into your oats, or add it in with your oats and milk before you zap it in the microwave, and you’ve got yourself another great source of fiber and nutrients to keep you going until lunchtime hits.

5. Protein Powder

tea, coffee, milk
Megan Kotrappa

Don’t be fooled, protein powder isn’t just for body builders or people looking to get huge at the gym. Adding protein powder to smoothies, yogurt, or in this case, oatmeal, is a great way to not only improve taste, but also to get some flavor variation.

Chocolate, vanilla, mocha, caramel—there’s bound to be a flavor out there that will cater to your individual taste preferences. Stir in a tablespoon or two (again, this can vary on your oatmeal serving size) into your oatmeal after it’s done cooking and you'll be able to taste the difference.

6. Nut Butter

jam, marmalade, gelatin, condiment, barbecue sauce, tea
Megan Kotrappa

If you haven’t had oatmeal with nut butter before, you haven’t really had oatmeal at all. Whether it’s from peanuts, almonds, or hazelnuts, nut butter is the perfect addition to a bowl of oats. I’m not even going to go into much detail describing this one; any nut butter’s rich, sweet taste makes a world of difference (trust me).

7. Toppings

sweet, candy, cereal, chocolate
Megan Kotrappa

Toppings are yet another fun way to vary your oatmeal from time to time. Aside from the classic chopped up banana, berries are another great addition. The downside about berries is how quickly they go bad; being a cheap college student, I suggest freezing them.

A little Greek yogurt also makes for a great topping. My personal favorites are sliced almonds, toasted coconut chips, chia seeds, and honey. Again, the possibilities are endless. When it comes to toppings, don’t be afraid to get a little creative.

Upping your oatmeal game may take a little effort at first, but the outcome is way worth it. Take these seven tips and do with them what you will. But I must warn you: once you go oatmeal, you never go back.