As you know, I eat a whole food, vegan (plant-based) diet. I do this for several reasons. The major reason is that I believe it is the best way to eat to avoid chronic disease. I also want to reduce my impact on the environment. And, since animal agriculture is the most environmentally damaging industry on earth, if I can reduce that by even a little bit, that makes me feel like I’m helping my kids inherit a healthier planet.
My son also needs to avoid gluten & dairy to help with his ADHD symptoms. So, I was looking for a healthy, quick, easy breakfast recipe that both my 8 year old and I would enjoy. I wanted to do some overnight oats, but so many recipes are full of added sugar or unhealthy ingredients.
So, I started playing around in my kitchen, and I came up with a really tasty, healthy version.
I started with organic, old-fashioned rolled oats and use Bob’s Red Mill, because they are also gluten free.
I wanted to make sure there were a few key nutrients in this breakfast, including protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Those nutrients, along with the slow-burning whole grain, would give staying power, and help my son focus at school. (It’s well known that omega-3 fatty acids help kids stay focused and help improve memory).
I decided to add ground flax seeds and chia seeds to meet those requirements. I also know that chia seeds help keep you hydrated (they absorb 12 times their weight in liquid) and give a pudding-like texture.
Texture is important for kids, and they love crunchy foods, so I decided to add some walnuts. walnuts are full of health benefits (just keep your portion small, as with any nut) https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/05/19/7-walnuts-benefits.aspx
And then, of course, I needed to make my overnight oats taste good. An 8 year old (and, frankly most adults, myself included) aren’t very likely to eat something just because it’s good for them if it doesn’t taste good! But, I don’t use refined sugar. actually, I don’t use much of any added sweetener.
Sugar also makes focus difficult for a child with ADHD. And that sugar crash that comes an hour or so after eating added sugar would have most of us looking for a pick-me-up, which has a tendency to lead to poor choices when we are busy (that vending machine will start calling you).
Fresh fruit to the rescue! I went with bananas and strawberries, but you could really use any fruit. Berries are full of antioxidants, and bananas are a great source of potassium and soluble fiber.
Finally, I chose to add some natural peanut butter. Mostly because I LOVE peanut butter. But, the fat content would help me feel really satisfied too. Make sure you use a peanut butter that contains ONLY peanuts.
I used almond milk as my liquid, since my son and I don’t consume dairy. I use unsweetened, original almond milk. you could also use unsweetened vanilla almond milk, just read the label and make sure it’s unsweetened. You don’t need to add empty calories to your breakfast.
If you really feel like you need to add a sweetener, you could add a tablespoon of real maple syrup. but the fruit adds plenty of sweetness for my tastebuds.
Feel free to eliminate the peanut butter, or use another nut butter, and change up the fruits to make this recipe fun and interesting. You could go tropical, by adding mango and unsweetened coconut flakes, or try blueberries & raspberries.
You can also use almonds or pecans instead of the walnuts. Just go with the raw, unsalted version.
This recipe will fill 3 jars. I eat about 1/2 jar for breakfast, but a bigger person (like my 18 year old twin sons) would probably want the whole jar.
Healthy Overnight Oats
2 cups whole rolled oats
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1-2 Tbsp natural maple syrup (optional- I don’t use)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 banana, chopped
4-6 strawberries, chopped
Place oats, flax, chia seeds, nuts and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl. Add milk and stir to combine. Add fruit and cinnamon and stir to incorporate. fill 3 mason jars with the oat mixture. Cover, and place in refrigerator overnight.
*For those following the 21 Day Fix, half a jar is a serving. This recipe would count as 1 yellow, 1/2 red, 1 orange, a tsp and about 1/3 purple. If using maple syrup, keep it to a TBSP, and you will not have to count that as another 1/2 yellow.