There’s definitely a point every semester in college where I’ve given up on waking up early enough to make myself a healthy breakfast and instead opt for a sugar-filled granola bar to get me through the morning. Or even worse, when I still had a meal plan, I’d head over to Einstein’s and grab a blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese. Considering the fact I did that on almost a daily basis, I now see why I gained 10+ pounds my freshman year.
But then I found the world of meal prepping. More specifically, I found the world of overnight oats. Overnight oats have been gaining popularity over the past year and a half-ish, and there’s solid reasoning behind that. They’re easy, nutritious, and delicious. Spend five minutes at night throwing your favorite oatmeal ingredients into a jar, and you’ll never have to reach for anything unhealthy in the morning again.
Just like most healthy dishes, it can become unhealthy relatively quick when you start adding in the extras. You know how the concept of salads are healthy, but in reality people drench their lettuce in dressing, sprinkle on three servings of cheese, and top it all off with handfuls of bacon bits and croutons?
The same concept applies to overnight oats. Sure the idea of oatmeal is healthy. It’s a solid source of complex carbs which will keep you full for longer. Add some nuts on top of it and the healthy fats will really keep you full. But where people go wrong is when they start adding tons of dried fruits and tablespoons of sweeteners like maple syrup. Now there’s nothing wrong with dried fruit or maple syrup, but when you add dried fruit, maple syrup, nuts, and chia seeds in one serving of oatmeal, the caloric content skyrockets.
In today’s oatmeal, I tried to balance the carbs from the oatmeal and raisins with quality fat sources from nuts and seeds. I track all of my foods in MyFitnessPal just to make sure I’m hitting my macro nutrient goals for the day. Even if you don’t track your calories or macro nutrients, keeping a quality ratio of healthy carbs, fats, and protein in every meal will really help you be more mindful of what you’re consuming.
- 1/2 cup (40 grams) old-fashioned oats
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- a few raisins
- 15 grams chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
In a jar with a sealable lid (think mason jar or in my case, an old jam jar), add in 40 grams of oats.
Why do I weigh out my foods?
Weighing out foods is a much more accurate way of calculating calories and macros. I’m a very number oriented person, and weighing things out just satisfies me way more than using measuring cups and spoons. LOL. But anyways, learning what actual serving sizes look like will really help you with your heath and fitness goals. As long as you’re consistent in the way you measure out your food, whether that be weighing it out or using the same set of measuring cups and spoons, you’ll be good.
Add in the remainder of your ingredients to the jar.
I probably added in 6 or 7 raisins in total to this jar. While I do love dried fruit in my oats, I don’t want all of the extra carbohydrates. So instead of using a full serving or even half a serving, I just toss in a few so I still get the flavors but it’s with minimal carbs.
Healthy fats? Yes please!
Pecans, or any kind of nut really, are great sources of healthy fats. I always struggle to hit my fats for the day, so if I focus getting in a serving of nuts in my morning oats, it helps me out for the remainder of the day.
If you don’t add anything else into your morning oats, please add chia seeds. Chia seeds are magical little beings that are extremely healthy and full of amazing benefits. Don’t believe me? Believe WebMD.
Okay finally on to the best part: cinnamon. I sprinkle cinnamon on to my oats on a regular basis because just like chia seeds, cinnamon also has amazing health benefits. A little bit goes a long way, so be careful and don’t add too much.
The final step is to add your liquid of choice. You can add water, milk, almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, or a combination of all of the above.
What liquid should I add?
I opt for unsweetened almond milk because dairy and I aren’t the best of friends, and I really love almond milk. When choosing an almond milk, I avoid the ones with added sugars. I much rather prefer getting my carbs from other sources throughout the day instead of mindlessly consuming them in my almond milk. Plus I find that the sweetened almond milk is almost too sweet for me.
If you already use almond milk, try switching to the unsweetened versions. It’s a simple switch that will help you cut out added sugars from your diet. Little changes add up over time.
Once you’ve constructed your overnight oats, screw the lid on the jar and place it in the fridge. It’s best if left overnight, but you can eat it after a few hours.
in the morning
The beauty of overnight oats is that you can eat them hot or cold. I am not one for cold oatmeal because the texture is just a no-go for me. But if cold overnight oats are your thing, by all means go for it.
I throw my oats in the microwave for a minute or so to heat it up, and then I add some form of sweetener. If I’m feeling crazy, I’ll add a splash of maple syrup. I don’t do this all the time because maple syrup is very high in calories and I don’t want that on a daily basis. Most times I opt for some form of stevia sweetener. Truvia is my tried and true, and I add it to almost everything.
The best part about overnight oats is that they’re portable. I am totally that person that eats full meals while walking to class.
Overnight oats? 100% yes.
I barely have time to eat as it is while in school, so those 20 minute walks to class have to be put to good use.
Never again can you say you didn’t have time to make a healthy breakfast because let’s face it. We all have 10 minutes at night to prep overnight oats. No excuses.