Oats exude something that suggests wholesomeness. There seems to be few breakfasts better suited than oatmeal for starting off the day with some well-rounded nutrition and quality carbohydrates to push us on through the morning. No one has ever heard their mom or a doctor say they are eating too much oatmeal. It’s just the right kind of stuff, which begs the question as to why we don’t eat it more regularly. Why hasn’t it really caught on beyond porridge?

Actually, lots of oat fanatics have been doing the rounds, spreading the oat-y vibes all over the place, and it turns this humble and healthy grain can get a lot of jobs done. Health-wise, oats are good for everything from protecting us against heart disease to stabilizing blood sugar levels to providing us with long-standing energy. Culinarily speaking (and beyond), they are more versatile than Goldilocks would have ever guessed, and here are a dozen-plus ways to make the most of oats.

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1. Justify Dessert

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Oats are fantastic for making quality desserts. Most of us have gone the way of the oatmeal-raisin cookie, but there are other options for oats in sweets, such as pie crusts or crumble toppings. Desserts are a little healthier, and everyone stays happy.

2. Change Breakfast

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It would just be foolish to delete oatmeal from the breakfast menu, but it would be just as foolish to think that’s the only way to have oats for breakfast. They are the crux of granola (DIY time), and they can also be used for funky breakfast pudding or fancy parfait.

3. Flip Burgers

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Beans make a wonderful veggie burger, but they are not the only thing out there that can do so and they certainly don’t operate alone. Oats make for fantastic burger binding and really thicken up the mix. Plus, they are a lot healthier than binding with bread crumbs or flour. Try them in these Sweet Potato Burgers!

4. Soak Them

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Admittedly, this is just oatmeal, but it is not the way most of us grew up eating it. Raw food enthusiasts soak oats overnight — never cooking them — to make a more nutritious version of the oat’s claim to fame. Sure, we could call it oatmeal, as is done, but it’s definitely a bit different (and better for summer weather).

5. Bake and Break Bread

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Oats, technically, are just another grain, which is why it is no surprise they perform well in the oven. A quick and easy homemade oat bread is a nice change of pace to the same-old wheat varieties. Oats can also be used in more traditional breads to whole grain them up a bit or make gluten-free varieties.

6. Bar Granola

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Granola is great for breakfast, but it has also made quite a name for itself in the snack market. Granola bars rock. They are a quick source of energy, an on-the-go nibble and a positive solution to mid-afternoon munchies. Oats are where the granola bar magic begins.

7. Thicken Up

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Having a little trouble with a broth, stew, chili or whatever being a bit too watery? Use a little oat flour (literally, just ground up oats—do it in the food processor) to thicken things up. It’s a perfect substitute for classic thickeners like flour or cornstarch, and it’s a much more nutritious option. Oats are crazy absorbent.

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8. Smooth Things Out

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All the world loves a smoothie, and for many of us, they often represent an entire meal. In such cases, oats are a great way to add more substance to the fruit and veg. They are something more to boost the gusto of that smoothie. It adds quality carbs and protein (yes, protein), so why not smooth them out?

9. Treat Yourself

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Said it before, but let’s say it again: Oats like a good baking. They make nice bread, crumbles and cookies, and they make lots of other fine treats to boot. Oat muffins, oat brownies and oatmeal crème pies (a la Little Debbie) are a few other ways to treat yourself well with oats.

10. Get Savory

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The tendency is to combine oats with sweet stuff, but that doesn’t always need to be the case. They can also be used similarly to rice or risotto, creating rich and creamy dinner dishes. Oats combine well with savory flavors and will gladly step up to be the whole grain at dinnertime.

11. Milk Them

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Oats make yet another great dairy-free milk, and it’s a really simple process that can be done at home. What’s more, oats — with their mammoth power of absorption — work well for creating thicker milks, good for creamy coffee or milky tea.

12. Beautify

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Common in beauty products, oats are great for our skin. They work in bath soaks (just add in a couple of cups with some a bit of something that smells nice, lavender maybe). Oats can also help with itchy skin, work as a dry shampoo, a mask, and can be used to exfoliate the skin with a little less chemical harshness.

So, then, it seems all that’s left to do is buy a seriously generous hulking bulk purchase of oats and start getting reacquainted with the wholesome breakfast favorite and all those hidden talents it’s been squirreling away.

Lead Image Source: How to Use Instant Oatmeal to Make a Quick, Healthy Dessert