With it being Back to School time, it is also time to think about breakfast or “Break the Fast” as I like to tell people. I’m sure you’ve heard it said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast ends our overnight fast and revs up our engine to tackle the day. This is even more important for children and their developing brains. Research shows that people who eat breakfast perform better at school or in their jobs and also tend to eat less over the course of the day.
But like you, I struggle just as much as the next mom with getting everyone up, dressed and ready to get out the door. We are guilty of eating breakfast in the car on multiple occasions, but at least we were eating! One strategy for getting a quick breakfast in my children and in myself is to prepare it in advance. And I’m not necessarily saying you need to set your alarm back 5 minutes earlier (though that is certainly a good strategy too), but prep it the night before. Enter overnight oats, which was a light bulb going off when I first heard of it a few years back.
I’ve always been a seasonal oatmeal eater. Once it is cold outside, I eat oats. I love oats and there is nothing better than a steaming, hot bowl of oatmeal on a cold morning. But I love oats so much that I often want to eat them in warmer months too. When I discovered Overnight Oats, my love for oats could be satisfied year-round. So what is different about Overnight Oats that they can be eaten in summer? Well, first there is no cooking involved. They “cook” in the refrigerator all night. And second, they are great cold or room temp after a few seconds in the microwave to take the chill off. Best of all, it can be prepped the night before and then it is ready to go for a quick breakfast in the morning. I recommend Overnight Oats to most of my clients for this reason.
My recipe for Chia Seed Overnight Oats is below. The great thing is that you can play with it and can add any number of toppings to suit your tastes. I will say that I always add raisins to my base before placing in the refrigerator as well as a dash or 2 of cinnamon. The natural sweetness of the raisins leeches into the oats so that I don’t need to add any extra sugar in the morning. Cinnamon naturally brings out the sweetness of foods too so this helps as well. Occasionally I may add a drizzle of honey, but usually it isn’t needed, especially if I add more fresh fruit. Mashing up a 1/2 banana is another great way to add natural sweetness.
I generally add chia seeds to my oats or sometimes ground flaxseed instead for a boost of protein, fiber and healthy omega-3 fats. You could simply leave them out if you prefer. Chia seeds are the black and white seeds from a plant traditionally found in desert regions. While many may not have hard of chia seeds, most people may remember chia pets, clay figurines that sprouted grass-like “fur” or “hair,” which is the same plant. The seeds are actually very nutritious packing 70 calories 2.9 grams omega-3 fats (alpha-Linolenic Acid or ALA), 6 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein in 1 tablespoon. In liquid, they become almost gel-like. I hear chia seeds makes great pudding, which is on my must try list soon!
Enjoy and no excuses now for not having time for breakfast!
Chia Seed Overnight Oats
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup milk or milk alternative
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1/4 cup raisins
- Dash or two of cinnamon
- Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Place in refrigerator overnight.
- In the morning, the oatmeal is ready. It can be heated a bit in the microwave to take the chill off if you prefer. Add additional toppings of your choosing such as fresh fruit, nuts, seeds or peanut butter.