Have you heard of proats, or protein oatmeal? Adding high-protein ingredients like milk powder and egg whites to oats recipes can give your protein intake a boost! Getting a high-protein breakfast can help you feel full until lunch. If your morning oatmeal isn't leaving you feeling satisfied, try this chocolate peanut butter proats recipe with no protein powder! My vote's for protein oats!
It's not exactly a secret that I eat a lot of oatmeal. As long as you aren't following a low-carb diet, oatmeal makes a cheap and convenient addition to meals.
Additionally, oats are SO versatile. They'll play nicely with whatever fruits, nuts, and seeds you have hanging around.
There's a downside to all of the oaty goodness, however. Your breakfast oats aren't providing a lot of protein by themselves. They only offer up a measly 5.3 grams of protein per 150 calories (½ cup) of dry rolled oats (per Cronometer).
Most people should aim for at least 25 grams of protein at meals (if they are eating 3 meals per day and limiting snacking). This would ensure (for most) that they are covering the very modest RDA for protein. 30 grams of protein per meal may be better, and I'd consider 20 grams to be the bare minimum to aim for.
A reasonably portioned meal of oats and fruit is not going to get you to that protein goal. That is why I often suggest adding more protein on the side when I post an oatmeal recipe.
You get the idea. But with proats or egg white oatmeal, you get an all-in-one high-protein breakfast!
How to add more protein to oats without protein powder
Most of the proats recipes I see use protein powder to help make the oatmeal higher in protein. That is definitely one way to do it.
However, I don't like the taste of most protein powders. (They can be a little chalky, eh?) In addition, I prefer to meet my protein needs with foods first rather than protein supplements.
If you do like a particular protein powder, that is an extremely easy way to add more protein to your meals. In addition, there are lots of ways to do it with whole foods (or mostly whole foods), and that is what I am going to talk about here.
The idea with proats is that we want to shift the macronutrient profile to boost the protein without sending the calories through the roof. Technically, you could increase the protein in your oats by adding more of most foods.
However, foods outside the dairy and protein groups are not great choices for protein. For some foods (think non-starchy veggies), you'd have to eat an excessive volume to get a reasonable amount of protein from them. Some other foods are too energy-dense to be prioritized as a good source of protein (more on this below).
Here are my favorite ways to add more protein to oats
All of the protein options in this list provide a significant amount of protein in relation to their calories. The protein content of a single egg white does not look very impressive. However, when you take the calories into account, you can see that egg whites are a very concentrated protein source.
You can add a lot of egg whites to a recipe to boost the protein without sending the calories through the roof. Many dairy products are also good contenders to help increase the protein in your oatmeal.
- Egg whites: 17 calories each, 3.6 g protein
- Whole eggs: 70 calories per large egg, 6.0 g protein
- Dairy milk: 120 calories per cup of 2% milk, 8.1 g protein (or a non-dairy milk with comparable protein; many are not good options)
- Fairlife dairy milk: 120 calories per cup of 2% milk, 13.0 g protein (this brand uses a special filtration process to concentrate the protein while reducing the sugar)
- Instant dry milk powder: 243 calories per cup of nonfat dry milk powder, 23.9 g protein (reconstitute with only half the water as we are doing in this recipe to concentrate the protein)
- Plain Greek yogurt or skyr: 72 calories of nonfat Greek yogurt, 12.5 g protein
- Cottage cheese: 151 calories per cup nonfat cottage cheese, 21.7 g protein
Making savory oatmeal opens up even more options. I'll cover them in a future post.
Making dairy-free proats
If you are looking for non-dairy alternatives, I offer a list of brands that I think are good options on my freebies page. You don't need to sign up for anything to see the list. The products on my list have no added sugar and offer comparable protein and calcium to dairy milk.
Lactose-free milk simply means that the natural milk sugar lactose has been broken down into simple sugars. This makes the milk easier for people with limited lactose tolerance to digest, but it does not impact the protein content. Lactose-free milk typically refers to dairy milk, though the dairy-free milk alternatives are also lactose-free.
If you would like to substitute soymilk powder for the instant dry milk powder in this recipe, know that many are not fortified. You may not be getting the calcium, vitamin B12, and so on that are (hopefully) present in your regular non-dairy alternative.
What about nuts and seeds?
Nuts and seeds are technically in the protein group in the MyPlate. However, they are incredibly calorie-dense, and I prefer to think of them as healthy fats versus protein.
That said, nuts and seeds (in reasonable portions) do contribute some protein to meals. Of the nuts, peanuts provide a little more protein than most other options. (And by the way, peanuts are not technically a nut at all; they are a legume!)
I'm using peanut flour, chopped peanuts, and peanut butter in this recipe for triple the peanut goodness. This high-protein proats recipe has a really great chocolate peanut butter banana flavor.
Rather than cover all of the nuts and seeds, I thought I'd just show the protein and calorie content of the ones used in this recipe. Here they are:
- Peanuts: 200 calories per ¼ cup, 9.4 g protein
- Peanut flour (defatted): 12 calories per 1 tablespoon, 2.0 g protein
- Hemp hearts: 40 calories per 1 tablespoon, 2.4 g protein
- Peanut butter: 190 calories per 2 tablespoons, 7.2 g protein
As you can see, the defatted peanut flour is a much more concentrated source of protein than the peanuts or peanut butter. It's kind of like the protein powder of the peanut world. Haha
That said, if you are looking for the less processed, whole food options, defatted peanut flour is not it. I did find peanut flour helpful when I was on my weight loss journey. It can be a great way to create low-calorie dishes that taste like peanut butter.
Hemps hearts (also called "hemp seeds") add to our protein line-up as well. But like other nuts and seeds, they pack a lot of calories into a very small serving size.
Nutritional breakdown for this proat recipe
I tend to discourage getting too wrapped up in nutritional information, unless you have a medical reason for doing so. Unfortunately, some people (sometimes the sort of people who are drawn to nutrition websites) can become obsessive with the numbers. I've been hesitant to include more nutrition information on my recipes outside of a loosely estimated calorie count.
However, I realize that not providing macronutrient information can make things difficult for certain folks. That may include those who are trying to eat more protein, lower fat, or fewer carbs.
It can be useful to have the nutrition information when you are learning how to eat to meet your goals. This tends to be true especially at the beginning of a health journey, when you are learning the ropes.
The nutrition information below is for ¼ of this egg white oatmeal (a huge portion!) with the toppings. If you wanted to make your egg white oats without the toppings, here's what ¼ of the proats offers nutritionally:
- 415 calories
- 10.2 g fat
- 63.3 g carbohydrates
- 7.9 g fiber
- 21.6 g protein
No surprises here, but bananas and oatmeal are not a good low-carb breakfast option! However, as always, this recipe has no added sugar. Mashed ripe bananas not only provide sweetness here, they also completely hide the flavor of the milk powder and egg whites.
As you can see, the toppings are critical to boost your proats to around 25 g of protein. Without them, the protein falls a bit on the lower (but still likely adequate) end of things.
One more tip to make your protein baked oatmeal more appealing
Oatmeal tends to not be the prettiest thing to look at. On its own, it kind of resembles a bowl of gloppy gray paste. Yummy, right? Haha
Taking a few extra minutes to make your dishes more visually appealing may be worth your trouble. Many of us eat with our eyes as much as we do with our digestive system. We want foods that taste AND look good.
One way to pretty up egg white oatmeal is the toppings. I've got a lot going on here, with the drizzle of peanut butter and a sprinkling of cacao nibs and hemp hearts.
But the simple decorating tip I'm really patting myself on the back for is the banana hearts. A small set of stainless steel cookie cutters can be used for far more than cookies. I probably use my set far more often to cut fruits and vegetables.
I used to do things like this far more when my son was small. The idea was to help encourage his fruit and vegetable intake (though I'm not so sure that this had a direct impact). Now that he is a teen, the fruit and veggie cutters sit in the cabinet far more than they used to.
That said, I think it's nice to pull them out once in a while and throw some hearts all over breakfast. It's a small way to make a relatively humble dish of egg white oatmeal a little more special.
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let's get cooking!
Proats Recipe: Egg White Oatmeal
- 2 cups rolled oatmeal, dry
- 3 medium bananas, mashed (very ripe)
- ½ cup chopped peanuts
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon defatted peanut flour
- 4 large egg whites (save the egg yolks for another recipe)
- 1⅓ cups instant dry milk powder (non-fat)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- cooking oil spray of choice
- 2 teaspoons hemp hearts
- 1 tablespoon cacao nibs
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- ½ medium banana, fresh
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).
- Mist an 8X8 inch (20x20 cm) glass baking dish with cooking oil spray.
- Mix the instant dry milk powder with 2 cups of water to reconstitute it. (This should make it more concentrated than the recipe on the milk package.)
- Mix the oats, peanuts, baking powder, cocoa powder, and peanut flour together in a large bowl. Mix the mashed banana, egg whites, milk powder mixture, and vanilla together in a second bowl. Now add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and thoroughly combine them. Pour this mixture into the baking dish.
- Put the dish into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- After baking, it's time to add toppings! Let the oatmeal cool a bit and drizzle on the peanut butter (thin it with water if needed). Next, sprinkle on the hemp hearts and cacao nibs. Finish things off by topping with the fresh banana slices. I cut the banana slices into hearts using the small cutters I've linked to in the equipment section above.
If you like proats, I've got a *really* unusual savory option coming up in a few weeks! Trust me folks, you do not want to miss this one. It's going to be weird, wild, but also wonderfully delicious.
(Try it if you dare! Don't be scared. Hahaha)
Do you ever eat proats in the morning? What sorts of ingredients do you use to turn your oats into high-protein proats? Have you tried egg white oatmeal?
If you try my recipe for proats: egg white oatmeal, I would love it so much if you'd drop me a comment and a rating below. It seriously makes my day when I hear someone tried and liked one of my recipes!