OK, now this is getting weird. Veggies for breakfast, oatmeal for lunch – what?
If packing lunch is difficult, try wholesome and satisfying overnight soaked oats. Prepare a whole week’s worth in the fridge, ready to grab and go. This is also a great option if you prefer to eat a later breakfast at school or work. Grab it and go!
There are endless variations to preparing oats…. let’s take a look.
OLD FASHIONED vs. STEEL CUT vs. QUICK vs. INSTANT
Old fashion oats are hulled into “groats”, bran layer removed. Then steamed, rolled and lightly toasted. They have a hearty and creamy texture and cook down like your classic oats.
Steel cut oats are cut differently whereas the whole groat is chopped with the bran layer included. This creates a chewier texture and a nuttier flavor. They take longer to cook but, in my opinion, are worth the extra time. They also take longer to digest, leaving you satisfied longer and even further stabilizing blood sugar as your body works through the tough bran layer.
Quick oats are pressed down even thinner than old fashioned, bringing the cook time down, but also the flavor. They are also toasted longer in order to lengthen shelf life. Instant oats take that even one step further. These 2 options are both a more processed form of oats, which as you know, is unfavorable to me. In addition, the instant oats are packed with sugars and additives that we can do without.
POWER PACK IT!
Oats are a powerhouse on their own. They are super high in fiber which will help to stabilize blood sugar, reduce cholesterol and fill you up. They also act as a perfect carrier food for many superfoods that I love to incorporate into my daily life. Superfoods are foods that are nutrient dense, meaning they are low in macronutrients (fat, protein, carbs) in comparison to the micronutrients (essential minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients) that they deliver.
To amp up your oatmeal stir in chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, flax oil, coconut oil, cinnamon, goji berries, cacoa powder, nuts, coconut… the opportunities are endless.
COOK VS. SOAK
Sometimes we don’t have time to sit over our stove in the morning cooking oats. There are many options around this:
1. Cook a large batch at night, store in the refrigerator, simply reheat 1 portion in the morning. Will last a few days.
2. Cook in a slow cooker or rice cooker with porridge setting. Simply set up your oats before bed and cook on low in the crock pot. Or, if you have a fancy rice cooker like me, set it all up and set the timer for it to be ready in the morning. When using this method it is best to add in fruit and flavors afterward. Apples or blueberries do well overnight, but hold off on bananas and walnuts as they will get mushy.
3. Soak overnight. This is the cold version of oatmeal. Simply layer the ingredients in a jar or plastic container and let soak overnight. They do not necessarily have to soak overnight. I sometimes throw these together in the morning and pack in my daughter’s lunch. Start with oats, wet ingredients and seeds. Layer up the fruit and nuts. Here is my favorite soaked oats recipe – Apple Pie Overnight Oats.
FLAVOR THEM UP
Add a pinch of mineral rich salt such as Himalayan Pink Salt to add flavor and essential minerals. Sweetness is personal preference- no added sweeteners is best. The fruit and flavors like cinnamon and vanilla give it a great sweet flavor. But if you are not to that point yet, some healthier alternatives to sweeten your oatmeal are maple syrup or coconut sugar.
-Blueberries, coconut, walnuts/pecans
-Fresh berries, raw cacao
-Pumpkin puree, cinnamon, walnuts/pecans
-Apples, raisins, cinnamon, vanilla, walnuts
Learn more about alternative natural sugars at my upcoming class, “Taking Cara Sugar” on December 6th!
Details coming soon…