Mornings can be hectic. Between the early rise, getting yourself ready, prepping backpacks, making sure the kids are dressed, tending to pets, and sometimes even throwing in an early phone call or video conference, breakfast can quickly fall through the cracks for the entire family.
Not only does that mean everybody is hungry, but you’re then more likely to grab for anything to satisfy that hunger- pastries, breads, fast food, or a giant coffee drink or smoothie loaded with sugar, unnecessary fats, and calories. One way to ensure everybody starts their day on a healthy note is to prep breakfast the night before. Overnight oats are great for a variety of reasons, including that they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Many studies show that oats and oatmeal benefit health by helping lower blood sugar levels, promote weight loss, and reduce the risk of heart disease. The fiber helps you feel full for longer. And the best part? They’re super easy to prepare.
Today we’ll share 6 recipes for overnight oats. If you prepare portions in small containers (like these plastic-free containers), they are easy to enjoy on the road, to the office, or wherever the day takes you.
Several recipes also suggest to use old-fashioned oats- Denisse, a personal chef and owner of Le Petit Eats!, explains, “Old-fashioned rolled oats are generally the best choice when it comes to overnight oats as they give you that creamy, smooth texture with just the perfect amount of chew. [avoid] instant oats as they end up almost dissolving in the liquid. Steel-cut oats, on the other hand, might not soften up enough and be a lot chewier and denser than rolled.”
Strawberries and chocolate are a classic combination. This recipe calls for a dash of honey, but you can skip that since the chocolate shavings already add a bit of sweetness and you don’t want to start off the day loading up on sugar. If you’re a chocolate lover, you’ll be happy to hear that cocoa powder is rich in polyphenols, which are naturally occurring antioxidants that have been found to reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Pick a cocoa powder that is unsweetened, (often labeled as natural, or pure- try this option), that way you’re getting the highest amount of cocoa and no fillers or sugar.
Pecans, raisins, apples all bring fall flavors to the table. Pecans provide many benefits, including being a source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which can help lower blood sugar. Pecans also contain a healthy dietary fat, monounsaturated fat, which can help lower levels of LDL cholesterol. Raisins are loaded with antioxidants, and have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing blood pressure and blood sugar. But, they are relatively high in calories, so don’t go overboard.
If you love carrot cake, this is a delicious healthy alternative. The fiber in carrots can help regulate blood sugar, and they also contain Vitamin A and beta-carotene which can help reduce your risk of diabetes. This recipe calls for a bit of Greek yogurt, which helps provide protein (make sure it’s plain, to cut down on the sugar often packed into yogurt), and you can add pecans and raisins for crunch and sweetness, while also adding in antioxidants, calcium, and more vitamins and minerals. Chia seeds are used to thicken this recipe, but they also provide a protein boost and are loaded with vitamins and minerals like B1, B2, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.
This recipe has so many layers of flavors and textures, it’s bound to become a favorite. It includes pumpkin purée (plain, not spiced), pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, pecans, and cranberries. Pumpkin seeds are a superfood, and eating only a small amount of them can provide you with a substantial quantity of healthy fats, magnesium and zinc. Pumpkin seeds have been found to improve heart health, prostate health and protect against certain cancers. Pretty good for a small seed. Pumpkin also has high levels of vitamin A which helps support vision, the immune system, and reproduction, as well as several organs like the heart, lungs and kidneys.
Apples and cinnamon always call to mind apple pie, and this recipe is no different. This recipe also has chia seeds, which are loaded with vitamins and minerals. One of the main components of cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde, is known to inhibit certain proteins that are factors in causing inflammation. Cinnameldehyde also prevents blood from clumping, which protects against other inflammation related diseases. Add nuts for crunch and an extra boost of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Not to mention nuts have been found to help with weight loss.
Peanut Butter Banana
Peanut butter and banana is another combination that just never goes wrong. With this recipe, make sure you select a peanut butter that isn’t loaded with sodium and sugar. The fiber and protein in peanut butter helps keep you full for longer, so along with the oats, you’ll be less prone to reach for foods that will throw your healthy eating off track. Peanut butter also contains the healthy fat, oleic acid. which has been shown to help maintain good cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. You can add in mini chocolate chips, or opt for cocoa nuts for an unsweetened option that still packs that delicious chocolate flavor.
There are limitless options when it comes to preparing your own version of overnight oats. You can modify how much liquid you use, even what liquids you use- try different milk substitutes like almond milk, rice milk, or even just water. Add some plain Greek yogurt for a more custardy consistency. Vary the textures by including whole nuts and crushed ones. Purée fruits or chop them.
Denisse, owner of Le Petit Eats! also shares these tips when creating your own combinations:
- Oats love salt! In term of seasoning, that 1/4 tsp of salt is as important as ingredients like cinnamon and maple syrup, if not more important, so don’t skip it.
- Chia seeds and any dried fruit can be added at night, as they need time to absorb liquid and plump up overnight.
- Fresh fruit would add too much liquid to the oats and should be added in the morning.
- Give your overnight oats a good stir after taking them out of the fridge to ensure everything is well-combined.
These are just a few ideas, but the possibilities are endless. Make it fun for the whole family and have everybody choose their own toppings and do the prep work together the night before. Experiment with different combinations of fruits, nuts, seeds, spices, and you’re sure to never grow tired of this healthy option.