Overnight Oats – Your Next Best Breakfast!
Mornings can be a tricky thing. First off, there is the problem that most of us are tired, groggy, and slow moving. For a lot of folks, morning is the hardest part of the day because being a night owl is just too much fun! (Although every time we stay up too late and then want to cry when that early alarm goes off, we say we are vowing to get into bed from here on out at a decent hour… only to turn around that very evening and stay up too late again.) Mom always told you that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, and it you probably are aware of the many ways eating first thing in the morning can benefit you. (For starters, it is fuel to get your engines running, your metabolism boosted and provides energy for your active running lifestyle. But there are many studies that have linked breakfast to weight and fat loss as well, as it helps prevent overeating and overindulging later on in the day.) However, often times most folks choose the snooze button over leaping out of bed and preparing ourselves a home cooked, hearty, healthy breakfast. Breakfasts that are quick and easy, and that can be eaten on the way to work or school is really helpful in making sure you are providing your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. You need something that you can prep and assemble the night before, that requires minimal effort in the morning. You need overnights oats!
More Than Just a Pretty Picture (Though That’s Definitely a Bonus!)
If you have been on social media (especially Instagram) at all over the past couple years, you have probably noticed an uptick in the number of health and wellness accounts, which are filled with workout ideas, tricks for staying motivated in the gym and in the kitchen, and tons of healthy meal ideas. Overnight oats are one of those Pinterest-heavy recipes, and tons of healthy bloggers and fitness influencers are spreading awareness that overnight oats are not only nutritious but can be styled beautifully and plated in such a way that is totally #instaworthy. But don’t let lack of aesthetics and the ability to make your food look good enough for a camera scare you from jumping on the bandwagon! (Contrary to popular opinion, you do not actually HAVE to document every meal you eat.) The beauty of a good, hearty bowl of overnight oats really lies in its simplicity.
The basic recipe for overnight oats is quite simple. Each recipe calls for oats (obviously) and some form of dairy (or nut or soy-based milk or yogurt). From there, it comes down to your personal preferences on taste, texture, ease of preparation, and nutritional and/or dietary needs and restraints. Before you go to bed at night, grab a bowl or coffee mug (or some form of a to-go cup, if you plan to eat your oats on the run) and measure out however much oats you want. Most recipes call for ½ a cup of steel-cut oats but you can really use as much or as little as you want, and they do not have to be the steel-cut variety either. Any oat will do. Then mix in your yogurt or milk. If you stick strictly with tossing in a single-serving cup of yogurt, you might find that it is too thick. It is best to either use yogurt from a bigger tub (so that you can spoon out more) or mix the two and top of your single-serving yogurt with milk. The next ingredient is chia seeds or flax seeds, and while I don’t think they are absolutely necessary to make overnight oats, others might disagree. I will concur that adding these seeds helps thicken the yogurt overnight and give it a creamier texture than if they were left out… but oftentimes, it thickens it so much to the point that you have to add additional milk or yogurt in the morning (which ain’t really a bad thing!)
After you have the basics, you can start to get creative. If you want to pump up the protein to help keep you fuller longer, or if you want to eat your bowl after a strength training workout, feel free to add in some protein powder. (Pro tip: mix your protein powder with a few tablespoons of water or milk so that it forms more of a paste or a peanut butter-like consistency, before adding it into your oats. This gives even more of a creamy, rich, and satisfying texture!) Nut butter – either swirled directly into the oats or as a topping – are delicious ways to get in some healthy fats. You can also mix in nuts, fruits (dried or fresh), and seasonal flavors (like canned pumpkin and maple syrup in the fall, ginger and cinnamon spices in the winter, and coconut flakes and rum extract during the warmer months) to keep things fun!
Overnight oats are a great option for eaters and dieters of all shapes and sizes. They can be kept vegan (and obviously vegetarian) with just a few simple vegan swaps, they can be as sweet or fruity or nutty or chunky or smooth as you want them, and they can be kept small if your hunger is lower or they can be packed full of goodness for those with a heartier appetite. They’re also versatile in how they can be eaten. You can eat them in Tupperware on your morning commute (though we do NOT condone eating while driving! Take spoonfuls at the red lights!), as a slower breakfast alongside a fresh cup of coffee (you can even stick your oats in the microwave for a bit to warm them up when it gets cold), as an afternoon snack, and even throw in some chocolate chips or chocolate topping for a more indulgent post-meal dessert.
Why You Need OO’s In Your Life
Let’s recap the high points: overnight oats are simple to make, allow you to get as creative as you want to fit your schedule, resources, and palette, they are healthy and nutritious and provide you with a hearty serving of all three macronutrients to keep you full and focused, and they can be eaten just about anywhere at anytime! As a runner, they are a fantastic option for keeping your breakfasts simple and healthy and require minimal prep time to help keep your “runger” at bay. What’s not to love?!