I can't even begin tell you how many clients come to me swearing up and down they just don't have time to eat a nutritious breakfast. They skip it, or they just opt for coffee. Some eat something very small, like a banana, while others chow down in the car on grab-and-go, nutritionally devoid packaged breakfast foods--I'm lookin' at you, Nutrigrain Bars, Quaker Chewy Granola Bars and Belvita Breakfast Cookies (more on my beef with Belvita HERE).
If the rest of these clients' diets were solid, with plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fruit, I'd look the other way on the paltry breakfast; but that's rarely the case. A poor (or skipped) breakfast sets the tone for the day, leading to serious mid-morning hunger and lousy food choices, and those choices frequently continue through the day right through to late night junk food snacking.
Enter my most effective, most loved breakfast hack: Overnight Oats. I wish I could say I invented this trend. I did not. But I have a simple formula that is easily adapted based on unique likes and dislikes, and it can be adjusted to reflect the flavors of the seasons, too:
Makes 1 serving (easily multiplied)
- About 1/3 – 1/2 cup of rolled oats, uncooked (the old school brand in the cylinder is perfect. Steel cut oats will not soften much, and quick-cook oats will disintegrate.)
- A big pinch of salt
- 1 tsp (or more!) ground cinnamon
- 2-4 tablespoons of raw seeds and nuts (pumpkin, sunflower, almonds, walnuts, unsweetened coconut, etc)
- About 1 cup of your favorite unsweetened non-dairy or regular milk
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen fruit of your choice
- 1-2 tablespoons chia seeds for a more pudding-like texture and added nutrition (protein, fiber, calcium and more)
- Add in another 1/4 cup of liquid for each tablespoon of chia seeds
Mix the oats, salt, seeds & nuts (including chia seeds if using), and cinnamon well. Then stir in about half the milk, getting the cinnamon well distributed. Then add the rest of the milk to cover the oats and seeds entirely--it should be a bit soupy, but the oats will soak up some of the liquid (and if you’re using chia seeds, they’ll soak up significantly more). Once everything is combined, add the frozen fruit and sweetener. If you're using fresh fruit, you can add it now, or wait and add it in the morning. Let it sit overnight (or up to two nights) and enjoy it cold in the morning. You can additional milk for serving if you prefer the texture. If the mixture is too liquid, you can strain some of the milk off or add yogurt to thicken.
Once you find a combination you love, combine the dry ingredients in plastic containers at the beginning of the week, then add your milk one or two nights before you plan to eat them. You can also play with the add-ins (using canned pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves for pumpkin pie oats; grated apple, walnuts and cinnamon for apple pie oats; unsweetened coconut, mango and pineapple for tropical oats; etc.).
Need more support in finding quick and easy make-ahead meals and snacks that support your health and fitness goals? Let's talk!