I love oats! Ask my family and coworkers, and they will all attest to the fact that I eat oats 6-7 days per week! Why? Well, oats are like a creamy white canvas waiting to be filled in with a multitude of vibrant colors and all varieties of yummy flavors. Plus, oats happen to benefit the body, and your budget, in a multitude of ways. Due to the versatility of oats, and its low cost per day (about .45 cents per ½ cup rolled oats), you, like me, might consider making delicious and nutritious oats part of your daily menu rotation.
If your idea of oatmeal is cooked plain with a smattering of brown sugar and cinnamon, you are missing out on the full potentiality of oats. Think of the ingredients of your favorite quick bread varieties, such as banana nut, peanut butter chocolate chip, strawberry pecan, to name a few, that can easily be stirred into oats. However, it doesn’t have to end there.
One of my favorite steel cut oats recipes is made with spinach, mushrooms, and a few key spices cooked which is then cooked to savory perfection. Then, there is another recipe for tropical rolled oats that includes coconut milk, mango, banana, and pineapple that make your taste buds want to tango. And, that’s just the tip of the, well, oat bowl.
In addition to oats’ versatility, oats benefit your health in a number of ways as demonstrated in numerous studies and a wide array of articles. In fact, due to oats’ high nutritional value, the Food and Drug Administration permits the use of health claims on oat food-labels, boasting its ability to reduce coronary disease. However, the regular consumption of oats does more than benefit your heart. It can also:
- Manage type II diabetes
- Lower LDL cholesterol
- Offer high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties
- Help manage a healthy weight
- Maintain a healthy gut bacteria
- Reduce/ease constipation
- Reduce colon cancer risk
Are you someone who practices intermittent fasting?
Oats can be a healthy part of that protocol as well! For example, I mostly eat two meals a day at this point in my life. My first meal of the day occurs around a typical lunch time, so I make it brunch! I start with a cup of veggie sticks, followed by some sort of fresh fruit, and end with a bowl of warm, creamy oats. This meal is incredibly tasty, oh-so-satisfying, and keeps me energized until dinner.
Does making oats daily seem like too much of a time commitment?
I understand! I also lead a fairly busy and active life. Therefore, I set aside one day per week for food prep, which is usually Sunday afternoon, but it can be any other day of the week as long as it works for your schedule.
On Sunday afternoon, I clean, cut, divide into containers, and stow away all my veggies in the crisper for the week. I keep it simple, usually a mix of carrots, celery, and sugar snap peas, but it can honestly be any veggies you like that will remain fresh. Then, I typically take bags of frozen fruits and divvy them up into lunch containers, and also store them in the fridge.
Next, I set out six containers for oats, and I begin filling them–first, with dry ingredients, followed by liquids. After liquids are added to each container, I give it a good shake, ensuring all ingredients are mixed well. If using nut butter, I add a dollop of it to the top of the oat mixture after shaking, and reseal the lid. All six oat containers then get stored in the fridge. The entire prep process, from veggies to fruit to oats, typically takes less than an hour, and I have a daily lunch ready to go for Monday through Saturday, which can often be a hectic day.
Consider my recipe for Overnight Work Week Oats as scaffolding, and begin to experiment with building your own oat-bowl variations. Typically, I try to have steel cut three days per week and old-fashioned rolled oats the other three. My preferred oat bowl variations are mostly sweet, but I do branch out with other tasty profiles on occasion.
I hope my approach to oats, and even weekly food prep, encourages and inspires you to create your own quick and easy formula for healthy workday meals that will scrumptiously nourish your body and benefit your budget too!
From my home to yours, I wish you health and vitality!
Overnight, Work Week Oatmeal cups, with optional protein boost
Be sure to use certified gluten-free oats if you have a gluten intolerance/allergy or have celiac disease
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats or ¼ cup steel cut oats
1-2 tablespoon seeds, such as, chia, flax, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds . . .
1-2 tablespoons nuts or nut butter, such as walnuts, slivered almonds, pecans, peanut butter, almond butter, and so forth
½-1 scoop protein powder, optional
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoon maple syrup; or, for less sugar, ½ teaspoon maple extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon as well as ¼ teaspoon other desired spice(s)
1 cup favorite milk or water, add more or less, depending upon how thick you like your oatmeal
Optional toppings: Fresh fruits, such as, blueberries, strawberries, sliced banana, to name a few; dried fruits, such as, raisins, dried cranberries, goji berries; or sweet touches, such as, chocolate chips, honey drizzle, sprinkles, or any other sweet tastes you prefer
In a single serving bowl, add in all ingredients, adjusting milk as needed. (I prefer one cup, but you may like less or more.)
Stir or shake well.
Store in the fridge until ready to eat for up to a week. (The longer it is stored in the fridge, the creamier it gets.)
Can be eaten cold or heated in a microwave for 2-4 minutes.
Cover with lid or an inverted plate for 3+ minutes to allow absorption of liquid.
Remove and add any desired toppings.
(Can be doubled or tripled or made ahead of time as described above.)
Note: For my photographs below, my oatmeal was made with: oats, ¼ cup frozen riced cauliflower, ¼ cup pumpkin puree, ½ cup blueberries, chia seed, vanilla protein powder, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla & maple extracts, soy milk, and topped with peanut butter & chocolate chips for a weekend treat