Cranberry-Sunflower Oatmeal and an Oatmeal Bar

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The following content is sponsored by National Milk Mustache “got milk?” Campaign:

Oatmeal Bar

I welcomed my Saturday morning risers with an oatmeal bar. An oatmeal bar?! Are you kidding me? No, no, I’m not.

It is surprising, though, especially when you consider that I never had oatmeal as a child. My parents didn’t like it, so they never served it. Instead they served wheat and malt hot cereals that shall remain nameless. Blech.

Thankfully, my children will never have to serve their children those hot cereals, because I have taught them to love oatmeal. In fact, my husband and kids are huge oatmeal fans making an oatmeal bar a total win. Not only is it super economical, but it’s also super nutritious.

nut-free oatmeal toppings

Serve an Oatmeal Bar

I make a big batch of oatmeal and then offer a variety of toppings. Those toppings include: milk, brown sugar, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds. Since we’re a mostly nut-free household due to my daughter’s peanut and walnut allergies, I’m turning to seeds like sunflower or pepitas to add crunch to different dishes. It works quite well as a nut-free substitute.

While you can certainly serve this dish already assembled like they do at the cafes and juice bars, your kids may enjoy decorating their oatmeal themselves. Mine do. You can vary the dried fruit or use nuts instead of sunflowers, but this combination is pretty tasty. Trust me. (The recipe is at the end of this post.)

Serve an Oatmeal Bar Life as MOM

As you know, over the last few years, I’ve been taking baby steps to improve our eating habits and clean up our diet. Serving my family a whole grain breakfast is one way that I try to help them start the day off right as well as keep with our/my good eating goals.

Got milk?

Sure, we sometimes have donuts, but I try to include whole grains, fresh fruit, and some protein, like a glass of milk. I didn’t know this until recently, but an 8-ounce glass of milk has 8 grams of protein – more than an egg has! That helped me erase some of the mom guilt I’d been feeling over not cooking eggs everyday. My kids go through gallons of milk every week, so I know they’re getting their protein.

Yep, we’re good.

Why does it surprise me still how often we run out? I think we’re up to four or five gallons each week.

Here are some other things that surprised me. According to got milk?

  • Milk – including fat free or lowfat milk – is a breakfast powerhouse, packed with nine essential nutrients, including high-quality protein.
  • Research shows milk drinkers and breakfast eaters have more nutritious diets and tend to be leaner than non-milk drinkers and breakfast skippers.
  • Eating breakfast is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight. In fact, research suggests that eating breakfast, especially a cereal and milk breakfast, is an important strategy to maintain a healthy weight.
  • 85% of Americans fall short of milk recommendations.

Oatmeal with Milk

Currently, I’m testing out different ways to cook oatmeal. My husband has a favorite oatmeal that he gets at a smoothie shop. We’re working to recreate it. The shop uses soy milk to cook the oatmeal, but since I’m trying to avoid soy in our diet, I’m happy to use milk for part of the cooking liquid. Yum!

Build a Better Breakfast

Walking the journey toward better eating is all about taking baby steps. First I cut out the pop. Then I worked on reducing our processed sugars. Next, I started buying organic produce and GMO-free items. It’s definitely been a process over the last few years. I’ve done extensive reading and learned that we can improve some things about our food supply and how we produce it as well as how I shop and feed my family. I’m not where I want to be, but am constantly looking to improve my family’s diet and make it good and cheap in the process.

If you’re looking to audit your own family’s eating habits, you can use MyPlate as your guide. When you include lowfat and fat free milk at breakfast, help bring your kids’ actual intake closer to the recommended milk consumption. The USDA also has a fun My Plate Kids’ Place which provides games, activity sheets, and information to help kids take ownership of their diets.

For more inspiring breakfast ideas, check out the Better Breakfast collection on Kitchen Play.

That’s one area where I’m really proud of my own kids. [WARNING: Mom Brag Alert] After years of talking about healthy eating and changing our diet to reflect better choices and purchases, my kids are now exercising their choices well. My eldest makes a smoothie with milk, yogurt, and fruit every day after working out. My younger kids are constantly telling me why we should eat this thing instead of that, or explaining why they are making certain food choices.

new logo TBP_gotmilkBlack

Don’t give up heart, Mamas! You really can teach your kids to eat well. If you’re not sure where to start, visit The Breakfast Project for more tips and recipes to build a better breakfast plate, following MyPlate, getting you closer to meeting US Dietary Guidelines for daily milk consumption.

Join me and the got milk? team for a Twitter party on November 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM ET. You can register  for the party here. Follow me @fishmama. The party will be tagged #MyMilkMyPlate. I hope to see you there!

Cranberry-Sunflower Oatmeal


0 from 0 votes
Cranberry-Sunflower Oatmeal
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cranberry-sunflower oatmeal, oatmeal
Servings: 4
Calories: 238 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 2 to 3 cups cooked oatmeal we like quick cooking steel-cut oats
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 teaspoon sunflower seeds
  • 4 teaspoon brown sugar
  1. Spoon the oatmeal into a small ramekin.
  2. Top with 2 tablespoons of the milk.
  3. Layer on the cranberries, sunflower seeds, and brown sugar.
  4. Serve with milk on the side to drink with the oatmeal.

Recipe Notes

Nutritional values are approximate and are based on 1/4 of the recipe. Refrigerate leftovers promptly and use within 4 days.

Nutrition Facts
Cranberry-Sunflower Oatmeal
Amount Per Serving
Calories 238 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 3mg1%
Sodium 20mg1%
Potassium 166mg5%
Carbohydrates 45g15%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 25g28%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 49IU1%
Calcium 55mg6%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

What’s YOUR favorite way to start the day right?

Disclosure: I have been compensated for my time spent writing. Scientific data and statistics have been provided to me by National Milk Mustache “got milk?” Campaign. Kitchen Play has played an integral part in our partnership. All opinions are my own.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Hey Jessica,
    Since your family is such avid milk drinkers, I thought I’d share a great article from Practically Organic Girl that addresses a lot of the issues around milk in our country. It’s very enlightening.

    P.S. Love the idea of an oatmeal bar – blueberries are a favorite at my house.

  2. Oatmeal is definitely a Fall/Winter staple for our family. I’ve been incorporating steel cut when I can. Besides the benefits of milk oatmeal has a ton of benefits too, like fiber and lowers LDL cholesterol, plus it has 5 g of protein, so add that to your milk protein and your kids are well on their way. 🙂 I keep saying I’m going to try the overnight oats but just haven’t gotten to it yet.

    • I”m just learning how to cook steel cut so that I really like them. I didn’t like cooking them overnight, but soaking overnight seems to work well.

  3. Amanda says

    I love oatmeal too, and rediscovered it as an adult. As a kid, my mom would also serve those other cereals you mentioned. Or she’d plop down a bowl of oatmeal, plain! Ew! Now I serve it to my kids with toppings and mix-ins and they love it!

    Regarding milk, I used to feel guilty about my kids not wanting to drink it. Then I learned that milk is not a health food, and is actually linked to a myriad of health issues, beyond allergies. I came across the book “Whitewash: The Disturbing truth about cow’s milk and your health,” which was very informative. For instance, I learned that the “study” determining that milk drinkers are leaner was based on a single study with just a handful of participants. So I asked my pediatrician. He said milk should be treated like most foods–consumed in moderation, IF my kids want it. If not, they don’t need it, because cow milk is really for baby cows. When you stop and think about it, it makes perfect sense. No other species drinks the milk of another species, and definitely doesn’t consume it as an adult. Cows don’t drink horse milk, dogs don’t drink cat milk. So I still buy milk, but I would never trust the government or the milk industry to tell me how much we *should* be consuming.

  4. Elizabeth says

    Can you tell me where you get your raw seeds and/or what brands? I have a peanut/tree nut allergic son. I love using seeds but so many are made in facilities or on shared equipment with nuts.

    • I use Trader Joe’s, but I’m not exactly sure what the labeling is. I usually avoid shared equipment….

  5. Claire says

    Great idea, oatmeal bar!!!! Thank you 🙂

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