Quick Bites: On the Go Healthy Breakfast with Overnight Oatmeal

Problem: Brushing your hair in the morning is hit or miss, depending on your time crunch. Breakfast? Even less likely. If you do find the time, it will probably be an English muffin that will leave you feeling hungry long before the lunch hour arrives.

Solution: Make your breakfast the night before.  Overnight oatmeal!

Why is oatmeal the wonder breakfast food? Of all the whole grains, oats have the highest amount of soluble fiber. Oatmeal also contains insoluble fiber, which stays in the stomach longer, which means you feel fuller for longer.

Fiber also offers health benefits. The fiber in oatmeal may be able to decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol,” by 10 to 15%. Fiber may also decrease the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Another big plus is the low cost of oats, especially when you buy them in bulk. Individual servings of oats can cost more, so look for a larger bag, box or bin. Unopened or resealed oatmeal can last in your pantry for as long as two to three years.

There are three popular types of oats. Here’s the scoop on making your selection:

  • Steel-cut oats contain the whole oat grain, including the oat bran. They are passed through steel cutters, which chop them into pieces.
  • Rolled oats are de-hulled then steamed, which partially cooks the oat, and then flattened between two rollers. They are sometimes referred to as old fashioned oats.
  • Instant oats are produced the same way as rolled oats, but they are steamed for a longer period of time to completely cook them before the drying process. Instant oats often have sweeteners or flavors added to them. If you choose instant oats try to find them plain and you can control the amount of flavor or sweeteners, like honey, maple syrup, agave syrup or others.

As a general rule, the less processed the oats are, the more fiber they contain and the more health benefits can be gained from eating them.

When you’re ready for a healthy breakfast, this recipe makes four breakfast- or snack-sized servings.

2 cups rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)
2 cups low-fat milk or unsweetened soy, almond or coconut milk  
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
2 sliced apples or bananas and/or your choice of a sprinkling of dried, chopped apricots, cherries, blueberries or cranberries
Dash of cinnamon

Combine oats, milk, lemon zest and vanilla in a medium bowl. You can leave the mixture in the bowl or scoop it out into four individual portions or containers. You can either add your fruit on top now or wait until you are ready to eat.

Cover your prepared oatmeal and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight (next to all your other healthy fridge foods, of course!). When you’re ready to eat it in the morning, unwrap it and add the cinnamon, fruit, nuts and/or other garnishes for more flavor and texture (no heating required!).

Try using different milks and fruit and nut combinations to switch up the flavor. You can even drizzle with almond or peanut butter or add a dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt  for extra protein.

Don’t want to miss a crumb of Quick Bites? Check out our Quick Bites archive for extra servings of our healthy cooking videos and articles.


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