One of the things I regularly struggle is food. Not in a sense, that I struggle to eat, but in a sense, that it's difficult for me to find a balance between nutritious and [relatively] healthy food, its price and the amount of effort I need to put into preparing it. I also need at least some diversity to it, not just for nutrition's' sake. Oh, and I also need to fit into certain amount of calories at the same time, which may not always be that easy, as one would think. At least, if we are still talking about [relatively] healthy food.
Probably the most important food for me is breakfast. It does give me energy for most of my day, and mixed with overall morning routine it properly winds me up to be able to do the things I do, whatever they are. My usual go-to food when I am not on a meal-plan (where all meals are ready-made by someone) was muesli, ideally only with natural sugars, that is with fruits and/or berries.
Somehow it's been difficult to find a balanced one, that would fit all my needs: ones were too expensive, others were not as calory dense or not as filling. An alternative would be to make your own porridge or something similar, which can be much more filling, would be cheaper, but may take more time in preparation. And can theoretically become a bit boring after some time.
But a found a really good alternative in overnight oats. This is not something new, there are hundreds of recipes out there, but I still want to share the recipe I use, with a little bit of explanation of why for each ingredient. It will definitely not be for everyone, but maybe it will be interesting for some. What recipe can exist without the list of ingredients, though? None, so here it goes:
- 50g of oats
- ~50g of peanut butter
- 100-125g of frozen berries/fruits
- 20g of cocoa powder
- 200ml of water
Firstly, the base of the oats - oats themselves. Everyone knows that oats are good for you. They are filling, since they absorb water well with their fiber, they have slow carbs and some protein, which sate you for longer periods. Personally I prefer not just oats but mixes of grains, you know like 4-grains or 5-grains or even 7-grains if I am lucky. Not only because it allows you to have a bit more diverse set of nutrients, but also because they to provide a bit more viscous result.
Secondly, peanut butter. Yes, 50g of it. For some it may seem a lot. But it will be sating due to high count of protein, and it does have healthy fats. For me it is also very helpful to hit my caloric goals, since it becomes the main power source in the breakfast with ~300kcal. I prefer the crunchy kind in this case, due to the texture and crunch it provides in the end result. It also usually has just a little bit of salt, which is actually good for you, if eaten in moderation.
Thirdly, berries or fruits. I use frozen berries, since they are cheaper (usually) and easier to store, and it's quite easy for me to switch them through the week by buying different kinds. Or mixes, if I want. Basically whatever is available. I sometimes also use frozen fruits, too. In these cases I use 100g, but if I get my hands on a smoothie mix, which sometimes has 125g per portion - I use 125g. Berries are also good for you, even frozen: vitamins, more fiber, natural sugars, which still do take some time to get absorbed. This also counts as a portion towards "5 a day" rule, which is recommended by most doctors.
Fourthly, cocoa powder. This can arguably be the most unhealthy ingredient here, since most of powders do come with sugar and even 20g of powder will be around 70-80kcal, which is considerable amount. But it actually works perfect with everything else in terms energy and blood sugar levels. Think about it: first the sugar from the cocoa powder kicks in, then more complex sugars from the berries, and then even more complex sugars from the oats. So you get a quick surge of energy, which then lasts for quite some time. Cocoa itself also can raise your energies much like caffeine, but in a more balanced way. It also has magnesium, which helps with the nerves and is beneficial to heart, and it just tastes good, since it's chocolate.
Lastly - water. Not milk, since we already have enough calories and fats. Just warm water. I use warm one (not hot) so that it helps get frozen berries get unstuck, if required, and it also makes peanut butter dissolve better. Why that matters? Because I mix all of these ingredients. Yes, that's right. I do not use berries or peanut butter as toppings, I mix everything in. Doing this results in creamy texture from the oats, tint of peanut taste along with small pieces of actual nuts that give the crunch, chocolate taste from cocoa and then berries give me the juiciness and freshness.
Once everything is mixed nicely, I put the mixture in a container (or rather I mix in container from the get-go), and then put container into the fridge till next morning. It's enough time for oats to absorb water nicely, although, as alluded to before, the level of absorption can vary from, and in my experience mixes work best. If regular oats are used, the result may be more watery unless you reduce the amount of water. But I digress: in the morning I do not eat the oats as is. No-no-no, I put it into the microwave for 2 minutes on maximum (does anyone use lower power, really?). And then I eat quite a hearty meal.
This meal has ~618kcal made up of ~19.4g of protein, ~69.3g of carbs (~17.12g of fiber and ~29.68g of sugars) and ~26.2g of fats on average (will vary slightly depending on berries/fruits used). It may be a lot for some, but I need ~2100kcal to lose weight at the time of writing, and I try to have 4 meals per day with other meals being 400-500kcal each, so it helps me get right into the needed zone. It is filling, and raises energy levels nicely and it is overall quite a healthy meal, even with cocoa's sugar, which can be avoided, of course. Due to its texture and ability to easily switch berries/fruits I get enough diversity. It also takes me like 10 minutes to prepare 2 portions, and most time I am just weighting the ingredients. After that it cooks itself, which is another win for me.
Not for everyone, obviously, but you can try adjusting ingredients a bit, for example use less peanut butter or remove cocoa powder, and maybe you will like it. At the least, I think it may be worth a try. Even if it won't look like the banner I chose for this article.