Add oats to simmering water. Reduce heat to medium-low, adjusting as necessary to keep a gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very thick.
Stir in salt, dates, cinnamon, and protein powder. Continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally and reducing heat as necessary to prevent bottom scorching until almost all the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir once more to thoroughly mix. Let oatmeal rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Portion oatmeal into bowls, add pecans + maple syrup to each if serving immediately. If saving for later, portion into air tight containers and allow to cool completely before refrigerating. Add pecans + maple syrup right before serving.
Swap maple syrup for your fav sweetener
Dates can be swapped with raisins or dried fruit
Use the nuts of your choice; chopped walnuts also work great