We all know that eating healthy food is very important to maintaining and improving our health. However, these days our lives are often so busy that, even though we are well-intentioned, we end up grabbing foods that are quick and convenient, but not so healthy. Being ‘too busy to make healthy food’ is one of the top barriers to healthy eating that my clients tell me they struggle with.
You are probably also familiar with the old saying that ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Indeed, a healthy breakfast gets your metabolism going and provides fuel to your body for your day’s activities and nutrients to keep your brain focused and productive. Yet, many people find themselves eating a quick bowl of sugary cereal or stopping off at the local donut shop or convenience store for a greasy breakfast sandwich, neither of which fully accomplish the purpose of eating breakfast. Lots of sugars and bad fats leave you feel sluggish in pretty short order, so the next thing you know your reaching for a caffeinated coffee or soda to get you going again, and a candy bar at your morning break… and the vicious cycle continues through the day! So, what is a person to do?
One of the most popular solutions with my clients has been Overnight Oatmeal. This is a simple breakfast that requires no cooking and can be made ahead of time and in batches to supply your whole week with grab-and-go healthy breakfasts. All you’ll need are some jelly-size canning jars with plastic screw on lids (both can be purchased locally and inexpensively at Walmart in the canning section) and some simple ingredients. I like to make a bunch of these (usually a dozen) on a Sunday evening so that my daughters are fully stocked for the week. (These actually make nice after school snacks as well, especially if you make flavors like raspberry chocolate!)
So, here is what you do. For each serving, put ¼ cup of uncooked old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats), 1/3 cup milk (Dairy, nut, soy or rice – your preference.), ¼ cup low-fat plain greek yogurt, and 1 tsp dried chia seeds into a jelly jar. Stir with a spoon or cover and shake until mixed. Then mix in some chopped fruit or berries (fresh or frozen), plus a little natural sweetener (stevia extract, honey or maple syrup), if desired. That’s it! Cover and store in the refrigerator; at least overnight, but up to 3-5 days. In the morning, just grab a jar and eat, or drop one in your bag for later and head out the door! It’s great cold, but if you prefer it warm you can stick it in the microwave (without the plastic cover) and just heat it through. Easy peasy!
There are lots of options for flavors, so you aren’t likely to get bored of this breakfast for a very long time. You can create your own flavors or try some from the list below. Comment at the bottom of the page and let me know what your favorite flavor is! Bon Appetit!
To the base mixture described above, add:
Maple Blueberry: 1/4 cup frozen wild Maine blueberries and 2 tsp. maple syrup
Apple Cinnamon: 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp honey or maple syrup
Peanut Butter Banana: 1 Tbs natural smooth peanut butter and 1/4 cup mashed banana
Chocolate Banana: 1 Tbs. raw cocao powder, 1 packet of stevia, 1/4 cup mashed banana
Chocolate Raspberry: 1 tablespoon raspberry All-Fruit, 1/4 cup frozen or fresh raspberries, and 1 Tbs. raw cacao powder (regular cocoa powder will also do).
Peach Almond: 1/4 tsp pure almond extract, 2 tbs. slivered almonds, and 1/4 mashed peaches or diced frozen peaches.
Apple Crisp: 1/4 diced apples, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 2 tsp of granola.
Mixed berry: 1/4 cup frozen mixed berries and 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup.
Strawberry Kiwi: 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract and 1/4 cup diced strawberries and kiwi. Add a little stevia to sweeten if desired.
Tropical: 1/4 cup diced pineapple and 2 tbs. shredded coconut (Use coconut milk for the base mixture for stronger coconut flavor.)