We all know by now that eating breakfast is a good idea. It gets your metabolism going, and should help keep you from eating everything in sight by 11am. Now, in an ideal world we would all love cooking, be world-class chefs, have a kitchen and pantry stocked with nutritious foods, be able to dedicate an hour every morning to whipping up filling, healthy delicacies, and have a personal dish-washer and house cleaner afterwards.
This is not how the real world works.
Many of you are decidedly *not* morning people, and the thought of heating up a frying pan or dicing veggies before three cups of coffee is repulsive. Many of you have children, and the idea that you will have more than ten free seconds to yourself is laughable. And many just don’t enjoy cooking, don’t want to wake up 20 minutes early to make time to cook, or for whatever reason just don’t want to cook a hot breakfast.
That is totally fine. I have a solution that is far healthier and easier on your wallet than running through a drive through and wasting $8 on a carb-heavy bagel, fatty cream cheese, and overpriced coffee that will just leave you with a mid-morning slump.
At the risk of giving away the secret, I’ll tell you: oatmeal.
Ok, cat’s out of the bag. For those of you who just thought “ugh, I refuse to eat gruel for breakfast”, stay with me.
Oats are a powerhouse food, containing the highest amounts of beta-glucan, a beneficial type of fiber, in any known grain. Beta glucan helps slow digestion, and lowers levels of the ‘bad’ cholesterol. This fiber also helps you feel full longer, by eating fewer calories. They also contain a bundle of trace minerals our bodies need for all sorts of functions.
The FDA claims oats can help lower risk of heart disease, and many publications back up that claim. The only caution against oats is that, although they do not contain gluten, they are often grown in the same fields or near other crops such as wheat or barley. Thus those who truly are gluten-intolerant should be cautious.
Anywhoodles, in order to up your oat consumption without feeling like the little kid from Charles Dickens eating his gruel, there are so many things you can do to spruce up a bowl of oatmeal. And making it yourself at home can also save you tons of money and loads of added calories, sweeteners, preservatives, thickeners, etc. over pre-packaged microwave oatmeal options.
The time-saving factor comes in when you try the recommendation of “Oh She Glows” blogger: overnight oatmeal.
Anyone who has tried using real, raw oats rather than the “instant” or “minute” stuff knows, it takes a looooooong time to cook. So by soaking the oats overnight in the refrigerator, problem solved! The oats are soft and ready to go, you just need to give it a quick blast of heat, then add toppings as desired.
My first go, I followed the recipe exactly. Since then, I’ve experimented with oodles of different toppings. I’ll tell you my current fave at the end of the post!
- 1 ripe banana
- 1-2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/3-1/2 cup rolled oats
- 2/3 cup almond/soy milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- Optional: cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, sea salt, nuts/seeds/dried fruit
Step 1: Mash your banana into a glass bowl. Add the oats, flax, and chia. Sprinkle on whatever spices you’re using: I added some cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
Step 2: Add the milk and water, and put it in the fridge overnight.
Step 3: Now, while you sleep, the oats and chia are soaking up the moisture and getting nice and soft.
Step 4: In the morning, add any other toppings you didn’t want to get too mushy, like dried fruits, nuts, or honey.
I added about 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder, dried prunes, and chopped up almonds for a chocolate-banana feel and a little crunch.
This is my oatmeal in the refrigerator, working its magic.
All toppings added and mixed, ready to heat!
Step 5: Just pop your bowl in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, or an oven set to 350 for 8-10 minutes, and enjoy!
Since I’ve tried every nut, fruit, and spice I could get my hands on, my favorite combo so far is:
- 1/3 c oats
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 4-5 dried prunes
- 4-5 dried dates
- 1 tbsp golden raisins
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- Sprinkle of cinnamon
The dates have such a unique flavor, and the combination of dried fruits lends such a sweetness to the finished product. The almond butter gives it a nice burst of flavor too. I cut back on chia and got rid of the flax, because the original recipe was a little too… chewy for my taste. After all, people use flax or chia and water as an egg substitute, so they do make a bit of a gel-like texture.
Your ideal bowl may be something different, mix it up depending on your tastes, what you have available, and any allergies/sensitivities. But this is a quick, super easy, and economical way to start any day off right!