Somewhere between Mr. Quaker and the advent of Cheerios, oatmeal lost its luster.

Not to worry, though, ‘cuz the grain is and has been making a comeback in recent years.

After reports surfaced that the soluble fiber in oats could help lower cholesterol, the U.S. experienced an oat bran “craze” that peaked in 1989, right around the birth of yours truly.

Then, eclipsed by breakfast cereals with cutesy names and even cutesier shapes (Lucky Charms, for example), oatmeal suffered a temporary decline in popularity.

The cereal experienced a second wave of fanaticism, however, after a 1997 FDA ruling that foods containing oat bran or oats be allowed to display a “may reduce risk of heart disease!” claim.

Now on its way back into the hearts and breakfasts of families across the country, oats can be found in many forms, from convenient packets of flavored instant oats to one of my favorites– Irish Oats.

You could take your oats like the Swiss and enjoy a hearty bowl of Muesli, a popular dish made of uncooked rolled oats, fruit and nuts.

Muesli! Care of

Or you could try your hand at one of the many Scottish oat-based dishes, from a traditional “porage” to something more daring like Highland black pudding (yuck!)

As for myself, I’m particularly fond of quick-cooking oats, which share the same nutrient profile as the slow-cooking sort. I’ve taken to mashing half a banana into my oats, which saves me from using added sugar or syrup as a sweetener.

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, with half a banana mixed in. Cinnamon and fresh cherries on top!

I’m also a fan of adding a small handful of shredded unsweetened coconut to my oats a minute or so before they are done cooking.

Boundless possibilities aside, oats are the perfect food to make your own. Add berries if you’ve got them, or stir a tablespoon or two of peanut butter into the mix. Go as wild as you’d like, or stick to the Gold Standard– rolled oats and a generous serving of Vermont maple syrup 🙂