With this being my first post I thought I should start with something I love and have pretty much everyday which is oats! One of the reasons I love oats is they are so versatile and can be kept simple with some berries and a drizzle of honey or you can load it up with nuts, seeds, dried and raw fruit, nut butters… the list is endless! I have a few regulars that find their way in each morning such as ground flax seeds, sultanas, blueberries and raw cacao powder.
If the first and last ingredients are something you are unfamiliar with, don’t worry, I will be writing a more in-depth post about these very soon!
Oats are an excellent choice for breakfast as they provide you will slow release energy which means you won’t be starving by 10 am and eyeing up the vending machine at work. Also, they are cheap! 1kg bag of oats is under £1 in most supermarkets, which will last you a lot longer than a box of cereal and can be used for a number of different recipes.
Overnight oats are usually made the night before (secrets in the name) and means you can have it on the go or take it to work but best of all it gives you that extra ten minute snooze.
The basic ingredients are the same though which are:
½ cup of oats
1/3 cup of greek/natural yoghurt
¼ cup of milk of your choice
Dairy and non-dairy work just as well for both the milk and the yoghurt if you wanted to substitute either. If you want a more dense consistency then use less milk but if you want it runnier then use more. Mix all ingredients together and then you can add whatever you want to flavour… I’ve put some that I use in the list below, plus an optional sweetener and then put a lid on and leave in the fridge overnight for the oats to swell and soak up all the goodness. Due to their thick creamy consistency if you didn’t fancy the full portion, you can keep it in the fridge and have the rest of it as an afternoon snack!
You can put whatever you want in this to flavour it but I would advise that if you are wanting to add nuts/seeds you are better adding these in the morning otherwise they can go a bit soggy.
||Nuts, Seeds & Nut Butters
|Sultanas Cranberries Figs
Dates Prunes Apricots (3 = 1 of your 5 a day!)
|Almond Peanut Cashew Hazelnuts Walnuts Macadamia Pecans Desiccated coconut Sunflower seeds Pumpkin seeds
||Blueberries Strawberries Raspberries Bananas Mango Cranberries Grapes
||Raw cacao powder Bee pollen
Ground flaxseeds/Linseeds Coconut oil
Date syrup Cinnamon (this satisfies a sweet tooth and also helps to regulate blood sugar levels whilst suppressing your sugar cravings).
Nuts & Dried Fruit
Nuts and dried fruit are a cheap and easy way to make oats interesting and delish! (A more in depth post is coming soon). Nuts are a great source of protein, healthy fat and contain loads of vitamins and minerals. There are so many to choose from which work with different flavour combinations but the main three, which I always have in, are almonds, brazils and walnuts.
Almonds are definitely my favourite and are an excellent source of antioxidants; they are also one of the highest sources of vitamin E, which is used to protect the fat that surrounds each of the cells on our bodies. Protecting cells in this way helps prevent them from being modified and reduces the risk of cancer.
Brazil nuts have high levels of selenium that fight against heart and liver disease as well as some cancers. You only need 2 a day to get your recommended daily allowance and to have a significant impact on your immune system and thyroid function.
Walnuts not only do these pair beautifully with honey and cinnamon but they are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which are so important for brain function and help cut the risk of stroke and a number of cancers such as breast and colon.
Another tip is to look in the baking isle of supermarkets for nuts as so many can be roasted and salted, you want to look for raw unprocessed nuts as these will still have all the goodness in them. Having nuts in your overnight oats adds a nice crunch but you can also have them in the form of nut butters. Be very cautious though and check the label when buying them as many have hidden sugars and additives, which nobody wants. Many health food stores and even some supermarkets now do nut butters that don’t have all the nasties and are 100% nuts! I always have peanut and almond butter in but cashew is something I want to try next and there are new ones being created all the time.
Now you might be thinking peanut butter is not the best way to start your day due to it being high in fat but the fat is good for you! Your body needs fat to function and it also signals to the brain when you are full so is great for breakfast! Many vitamins such as the ones in nuts are fat-soluble which means they need to be consumed along with the fat in order for them to be absorbed into the body. Dried fruit can be very cheap and easy to buy in bulk. I would say most supermarkets sell their own brand version of your everyday dried fruit such as sultanas, apricots, figs, prunes and dates. These are my go to’s which I use for so many different things, not just for breakfast, as they last ages so you have can them in your cupboards for weeks and they will still be fine to use… that is, if you can leave them for that long! The other brilliant thing is that eating three dates, apricots or prunes = 1 of your 5 a day, when chopped up into overnight oats you can easily have 2 of your 5 a day for breakfast!
If dried fruit isn’t your usual thing then don’t worry! It may sound boring at first but believe me putting sultanas into your overnight oats and allowing them to plump up with all the juicy flavour’s adds such a nice chewy element to breakfast and they really do satisfy a sweet tooth. Soon you will be using dried fruit in things you never thought of and they are a great alternative to a sugar laden cereal bar. The above list is a guide of some of the things I use for porridge and overnight oats, most of them are cheap and easy to find. The superfoods are more expensive and not as easy to find but you can get them all online and usually in health food stores such as Holland and Barrett. I will be writing about these in more detail soon but if you had to pick one I would definitely go with Raw Cacao Powder! It’s chocolate in its most natural form ground into a powder and turns your overnight oats into a chocolaty pudding!
One of my fave’s is ½ chopped banana in with the overnight oats plus a sprinkling of cinnamon and then topped with the remaining banana in the morning and a spoonful of peanut butter! It’s simple but so delicious. Honestly, once you have tried these and played around with different ingredients they really do taste like dessert!
I have absolutely fallen in love with overnight oats and think they are especially brilliant for anyone who doesn’t have much time in the morning so make, snooze and enjoy!