I was never very into breakfast. As a kid, I would wolf down some cereal before rushing out the door. It was probably twice the recommended serving size and nothing particularly healthy. As I got older, the cereal stopped and was replaced by … nothing. Breakfast became a luxury — something to be enjoyed on lazy weekend mornings or while on vacation. Most weekdays, my first meal was lunch. It was like that for about 10 years.
THE COMMITMENT TO BREAKFAST
In recent years, I’ve made more of an effort to eat breakfast. Instant oatmeal became a go-to, and I would occasionally make eggs or avocado toast if I was feeling mildly ambitious. Then, after reading a dietitian’s preference for overnight oats, I decided to give them a whirl.
Overnight oats are exactly what they sound like, provided you think they sound like oats you make overnight. The exact recipe can be customized to your taste, but the two basic ingredients are the same as always — oats and liquid. Instead of relying on hot water or heated milk, you keep things cold, allowing the oats to form overnight in the fridge.
If you want to spruce things up from there — and, trust me, you do — you can add other ingredients like yogurt, nut butters, chia and flax seeds, and other oat-friendly items. Berries are a smart addition that can be added in the morning before eating to freshen things up. Depending on how you make your overnight oats, the end result can be delicious, nutritious and filling — exactly what you need to start your day.
THE GREAT OAT EXPERIMENT
I resolved to make overnight oats for five straight days. I kept it up, regularly experimenting with ingredients and wound up exceeding those five days … by about 25 days. Yes, I ate overnight oats every day for a month. Not only did they provide me with much-needed morning fuel, but they got me on the breakfast train — and I haven’t gotten off since.
Breakfast is often touted as the most important meal of the day. Whether that’s true is debatable, but, for me, skipping breakfast meant I would often make poor lunchtime decisions. Because, come midday, I was starving. And when you’re starving, it’s common to overeat, or to grab the first thing in front of you, even if it’s unhealthy.
Now, whether it’s overnight oats or egg-topped avocado toast, breakfast is an everyday occurrence. And that means I can opt for a lighter midday meal. Throw in a healthy dinner, and I’ve accomplished something: an entire day of good food choices. That was a lot more difficult when breakfast wasn’t on the table.
So, thanks, overnight oats; you’ve treated me right. I will continue to eat you 3–4 times per week. And when I don’t, I will eat something else. Because I’m a breakfast person now.
If you want to make your own overnight oats, recipes abound. But I’m partial to the below.
Overnight Oats Recipe
1/4 cup whole rolled oats
1/3 cup milk (or milk alternative of your choice)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 banana, finely diced
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon chia seeds
Cinnamon to taste
Add all ingredients except berries to a Mason jar and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight; in the morning, top with fresh blueberries and enjoy.