Breakfasts have been a big topic of conversation in my world recently. Between running a workshop on it last week and multiple conversations with clients about the importance of a healthy start to the day with breakfast, it seems like people just feel stuck with breakfast.
People tell me that they just don’t have time, that they need it on the go, that they are sick of eating the same thing every day, that they can’t bear the thought of food first thing in the morning. Sound familiar?
I’m sympathetic, I really am. When I was a kid, I hated breakfast. My poor mother was constantly struggling to find protein-rich foods that I would be willing to eat, because if I didn’t eat a breakfast with protein in it, I was a complete and utter mess. She discovered this as an issue when I started Kindergarten and the teachers reported that at 9:30am I would completely meltdown. Why? Because I was hungry. I needed that protein to get me through the morning. She tried everything and anything, and we often resorted to leftovers. To this day, I am a mess without breakfast, and I often eat unconventional things. But I do know that if I don’t start the day off right, I’ll make bad food choices later, I’ll be grumpy, I’ll be tired, and I won’t be able to concentrate.
Study after study has showed that breakfast is incredibly important for concentration, energy, weight loss, cholesterol levels, the list goes on and on. But it is also true that breakfasts can be a challenge. So in an effort to take some of that frustration away, I try to make breakfasts ahead of time and stock the freezer: pumpkin waffles, baked goods (sweet potato and carrot muffins, scones, and muffones are often go-tos), spinach popouts, granola bars, etc. The other favorite in my house is oatmeal, and not to the instant package junk, real oatmeal. How do we have 20 minutes of extra time? We don’t. We do overnight slow cooker oatmeal in a huge batch and then freeze (a huge thank you to the kitchn for sharing this inspired idea!) the leftovers. The outcome: creamy, delicious oatmeal any morning we want it in only 3 minutes! Here’s how:
- Unsalted butter
- 8 cups water
- 2 cups steel-cut oats (it is essential that these be steel cut oats and not regular oats, as the regular kind would just turn into mush)
- 1 ¾ cups whole milk or 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup brown sugar (optional)
- Optional toppings:
- Chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, etc.)
- Dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, apricots, mango, apples, etc.)
- Frozen organic berries
- Honey or Maple Syrup
- In the evening, before you go to bed, coat the inside of the slow cooker with a light coating of butter. Combine the water, oats, milk, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar (if using) in the pot and stir until combined. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. In the morning, serve with toppings of your choice.
- To freeze the leftovers, spray the inside of muffin tins with cooking spray. Distribute the oatmeal in the muffin tins and put into the freezer for three hours. After three hours, remove the muffin tins and pop the frozen oatmeal out of the cups (you may need to use a butter knife to do this or allow it to thaw for a few minutes). Return the frozen oatmeal to the freezer in a container or Ziploc bag.
- To reheat the frozen oatmeal, for one serving, place two pieces of the frozen oatmeal into a small saucepan with a little milk and heat on medium until warm, about three minutes. Or reheat in the microwave. Serve with toppings of your choice.