#LetsBeRealMeals: Overnight Oats!

Hey there!

I'm here to share with you a new project that some fellow RDs and I are working on. This project was inspired by the fact that we all became Registered Dietitians for similar reasons: To help people, to prevent disease, inspire others, and to make the world a happier and healthier place. But we also aspire to do this in a realistic way. Perfectly curated smoothie bowls that get 5,000+ likes on Instagram are definitely beautiful, intriguing, and probably delicious. But they are not real life. Because not everyone has time to create perfectly organized organic produce, let alone afford it. Most of us, including myself, have 9-5s to get to. And all we want is to eat the right things that can keep us satisfied through our work day...without breaking the bank. (Smoothie bowls ARE amazing though. So if you've got time, go for it :) )

So, we are starting a hashtag series called #LetsBeRealMeals where we'll feature real-life, simple, and affordable recipe videos and blog posts that can help make healthy eating a little more convenient. Follow along on my Instagram @cynthiamiranda.rd where you'll see me sharing what we're coming up with!

In the spirit of posting first, I decided to start off with a simple breakfast recipe: Overnight Oats. (I also chose a simple recipe for the sake of this being my first iMovie attempt ever, so bare with me.)

Yes yes I know, overnight oatmeal is so 2014 but it is still one of my absolute staples. Oats are packed full of fiber which has mega staying power. If I had a bowl of cereal, a plain bagel, or a protein-less smoothie instead I'd likely be starving by the end of my 45 minute commute to Providence. But not with oatmeal!

Overnight oatmeal is awesome because you can prep it the night before, then literally grab it out of the fridge in the morning and go. The #1 excuse I hear for not eating breakfast is "I don't have any time in the morning." Well, overnight oatmeal can change it! It qualifies as "healthy fast food" in my opinion :)

The recipe I'm sharing may definitely seem like dessert, but some people just really love that sort of thing in the morning. (Hello...danishes, muffins, crepes and most breakfast "bars" are basically dessert). But the best part about overnight oatmeal is that you can make it HOWEVER you want. What's key is the consistency and adding ingredients that pack in nutrition. Here are some tips:

1. Use rolled oats instead of steel cut. Steel cut oats are great and have a lower glycemic index than quick or rolled oats (ideal for those with diabetes), but they definitely need to be cooked or soaked much longer. Rolled oats turn into that perfect oatmeal consistency when left soaking over night. Steel cut, however, tastes amazing when you're making hot oatmeal!

2. Get the consistency down. I recommend using a 1/2 cup when using minimal ingredients, and up to 3/4 cup if you've got more. If you add too much, the oatmeal will be too watery. But you definitely want to add enough for the oats to soak in. Also, water works just fine, but it won't be as creamy! I am lactose-intolerant and usually go for unsweetened vanilla cashew or almond milk.

3. Add PROTEIN and HEALTHY FATS! You can make overnight oats so much more nutritious and filling than those instant oatmeal packets that contain an excessive amount of added sugar and not much of anything else. Adding nut butters, chia/flax/hemp seeds, or Greek yogurt is an easy way to maximize the nutritional value of your breakfast.
Egg whites are an amazing way to add protein when making hot oatmeal, btw!

4. Top it off! Whatever oatmeal concoction you choose to make, fresh fruit will likely make it 10x better. My go-to's are berries, apples, bananas, and peaches. I typically stick with about half a cup of fruit toppings. You can also top with granola, nuts, seeds...whatever you like!
I usually recommend adding toppings when you're ready to have the oatmeal, but it is really up to you. I definitely prefer to mix frozen fruits in the night before when I use those, because it infuses into the oatmeal...mmmmm

5. Sweeten it up! The recipe I am posting does not have any added sugar besides 2g of cane sugar in the powdered peanut butter. The banana sweetens it enough for me. If you choose to sweeten your oatmeal, remember that a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup goes a long way. Cinnamon and coconut flakes also add a lovely little sweet taste, too!

Besides the classic Chocolate/Pb/Banana version I am sharing today, here are some of my other favorite combos:

Oats with chia seeds topped with plain Greek yogurt, raspberries, coconut flakes and cacao nibs

Oats with cinnamon, a hint of maple syrup, walnuts, topped with diced apples

Oats with chia seeds, pureed pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and Greek yogurt

Are you an overnight oats fan? What's your favorite combo?!

Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Overnight Oatmeal

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder**
2 tbsp powdered peanut butter**
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup milk of choice
1/2 banana

- For an extra nutritious punch, you can also substitute unsweetened raw cacao powder for the cocoa powder! Cacao is an amazing source of antioxidants, magnesium, and iron, and still has that delicious chocolatey taste!
- I chose to use powdered peanut butter for this recipe because it mixes more consistently. But feel free to use a heaping spoonful of regular peanut butter if you prefer. Just mix it well!

Mix ingredients (minus banana) in a mason jar, glass storage container or Tupperware container. Cover and leave in the refrigerator over night. In the morning, top with banana slices and you're good to go! For a warm option, you can just place oatmeal mixture into a bowl and heat it up in the microwave!

And that's it!

Special thanks to Jenna from Jenna Gorham Nutrition for organizing this project, and to my boyfriend for being a human tripod. Go team!