Overnight Oats

Have you made overnight oats yet? I’ve been making it for years, but noticed it’s been gaining popularity online recently.

Oats are high in fiber and can help lower cholesterol. They also contain protein as well as vitamins and minerals like iron and magnesium. And they are gluten-free too, provided you buy the right ones. Many brands of oats possibly come into contact with wheat, so if you need to eat GF, look for oats that have GF marked right on the package. Bob’s Red Mill and Trader Joes both sell GF-certified oats.

The overnight oats concept is really simple and customizable. The night before (or several hours before you plan to eat it) you mix your rolled oats with milk (or another liquid) and let it all sit. The oats soak up the liquid, soften, and expand, without any cooking involved.

Before adding almond milk

You can take it to the next level by adding in yogurt, fruit, and spices like cinnamon or vanilla extract. It may take you a couple times to decide how much of each ingredient you want to use. For my overnight oats, I like to use a cup of rolled oats, half a banana (sliced),1 tablespoon of honey, and about a 1/2 cup of plain yogurt.

Whatever ingredients you choose, I recommend stirring the mixture well before letting it sit, and again before you eat it.

All ready to eat the next morning

A tupperware-type container with a lid will work for overnight oatmeal, but I like to use my mason jars for as much as possible, including these oats. Why? Because they look cool and are fun, obviously! 😉

Eat your oats straight from the jar…
or spoon/pour them into a bowl.
How do you eat your oats?
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“Eat Your Oats”- Four delicious, easy oatmeal recipes #healthy #glutenfree

My co-writer, Ruth, is back today, bringing some of her yummy oats recipes! For those of you who don’t eat gluten, oats are themselves gluten-free but often cross-contaminated with wheat, barley, or rye before they reach your table. Several companies like GF Harvest, Holly’s Oatmeal, and Bob’s Red Mill sell oatmeal that is tested to be uncontaminated. The oatmeal should be labeled as “gluten-free.” If you’re a diagnosed celiac or suspect you may be, always consult with your doctor first. – Elisebet 

Oats, or at least oatmeal, is one of those comfort foods that should bring to mind family breakfasts around the table on winter mornings. In some cultures today, as well as earlier history in others, it’s considered a holiday treat or dessert!

Regardless of your memories or experience with this “hearty” grain, it is one of the heart-healthy foods. That means it’s low in saturated fats, low in cholesterol and sodium, and has no trans-fats. Plus, oats are high in dietary fiber and valuable minerals. This grain has been cultivated on our North American shores since the time of the Puritans.

Oats have always been a staple in my home. Cookies and muffins are well-known favorites—both make great breakfasts for the family on-the-go. There are a myriad of other possibilities, however, so try some of the recipes we’ve provided. Experiment and create variations that fit your family’s tastes. Get more of this valuable grain in your diet. Eat your oats!

Basic Baked Oatmeal

  • 6 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 t. salt (optional)
  • 1 t. vanilla extract (optional)

Beat the eggs, add the oil and milk; stir the baking powder into the sugar and then add to the wet ingredients with the oats.  Mix together well and pour into a greased 9×13 inch pan and bake for about 25 minutes (toothpick should come out clean) at 350 degrees. Spoon into dishes (or cut into squares first); add milk or yogurt and fresh fruit, as desired.

Once you’ve got the basics down—start experimenting with what your family likes best. Replace part of the oil with applesauce. Reduce the sugar or try honey or maple syrup instead as a sweetener. Add raisins, nuts, blueberries or other fruit to the mix before baking.

Granola Yogurt Parfaits

Kids love making these, but I’ve also found them my favorite company breakfast dish served alongside a quiche. If you can find mini-trifle glasses (I purchased mine from Walmart), everyone can make their own and include as much or as little of any ingredient that they desire. Alternatively, layer the ingredients in a glass bowl and let everyone dig in. It’s a fun, tasty dessert or breakfast that is pleasing to the eye.

  • 2 cups of granola (recipe included)
  • 2 cups yogurt (I like to purchase non-fat, plain Greek yogurt with live cultures)
  • 2 cups berries (fresh or thawed frozen)
  • Honey for sweetening the yogurt layer (optional)
  • Applesauce (alternative to the fruit layer)

Makes four mini-trifle dish servings. Double the ingredients for a regular size trifle and make six layers instead of three.

Basic Homemade Granola (or Muesli*)

At least 5 cups of oats plus a total of 2 cups from the following:

  • chopped nuts
  • wheat bran
  • wheat germ
  • seeds (sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, flax)
  • wheat or barley-based purchased cereals such as a shredded wheat or wheat berry
  • spices (cinnamon, nutmeg)

At least 1/3 cup of oil plus a total of 2/3 cup from the following:

  • honey
  • molasses
  • maple syrup
  • peanut butter
  • brown sugar (2 T. fruit juice with ½ c. sugar)

After baked and cooled, add any dried fruits desired.

Stir the liquid ingredients together, add to the dry and mix thoroughly. Bake at 300 degrees on a large greased cookie sheet (or two 15×10 inch), stirring frequently, for 30 minutes or so until oats are dry and just golden—don’t burn them; though if you prefer a crispier granola, baking will be slightly longer. Allow the mixture to cool, add dried fruit, and store in a covered container. You may be able to leave your granola at room temperature depending upon your liquid ingredients and how crispy; otherwise, store in the refrigerator.

*For muesli (uncooked oat cereal), use the dry ingredient proportions listed for the granola, then add 1 cup of dried fruit and ¼ cup brown sugar (no liquids and no baking). Store in a sealed container in the fridge or keep at room temperature for a month.

Overnight Oatmeal

Usually the overnight oatmeal recipes that you find are for steel cut oats which work for a Crock-Pot make-the-night-before breakfast. Regular oats, however, generally cook too fast for overnight Crock-Pot cooking. Of course, instant oats can be cooked in a microwave for a quick meal, but I like to use regular oats, and neither family-size nor single portion regular oats are that easy to microwave. I  have to keep turning on and off the microwave to get a creamy porridge consistency without the oats boiling over.

So, try this trick. Place ½ cup oats for each portion you desire in a bowl and pour an equal amount of milk over; cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning add your flavoring. I like to use raisins and cinnamon without any sweetener. No additional milk or cooking is needed. The oatmeal has a lovely, creamy texture and, if you like, may be warmed up briefly in the microwave.

How do you like your oatmeal? What’s your favorite hot or cold breakfast?
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Make your own breadcrumbs- It’s healthier!

Breadcrumbs or panko are a staple in my kitchen. I should point out that the two aren’t exactly the same. Panko is a Japanese style of bread crumbs, made from crustless bread. But I use both panko and regular breadcrumbs for the same purposes, so I’m going to talk about them interchangeably in this post.

How do I use them in my kitchen? Well, tiny breadcrumbs are great as a binding agent for veggie burgers, quinoa burgers, sweet potato burgers, meatballs, and so on. They also work well as a breading for fish or chicken. In the past, I just kept a shelf-stable container in my pantry and would reach for it as needed.

This last October, I participated in an Unprocessed Food Challenge. Since I already eat mostly unprocessed* foods, I initially didn’t believe it would be much of a challenge for me. I went about my daily cooking, without giving the challenge much thought (I know; I was being cocky).

But then one day, I was cooking dinner and decided to peek out of curiosity at the back label on my Progresso Plain Bread Crumbs before using. I figured it couldn’t be that bad…it’s just breadcrumbs…but I had better check just in case, since I was participating in the challenge.

I was shocked!

In my mind, breadcrumbs shouldn’t have over 30 ingredients (many of which I can’t pronounce), including high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup and honey and molasses and sugar. I get that preservatives are used for shelf-life. I understand that we need to have foods that are shelf-stable for a number of serious reasons (like natural disasters). I also realize that some of the “chemical-sounding” words in the ingredient list are actually (synthetic) vitamins that have been added back into the flour to enrich it. But really? That’s the best they could do for breadcrumb ingredients?

Before buying a container of food that logically should contain minimal ingredients, check the back. In most circumstances, fewer ingredients is better, so how many are there? What are they?

Another option is to make your own breadcrumbs. If you have bread that’s going stale, use your food processor to grind the bread up into breadcrumbs (and homemade bread is the best choice in this case, otherwise you run the risk of your breadcrumbs still being full of junk). Just tear up your bread into chunks, toss into the food processor, and pulse for about a minute, until they all have a fine consistency.

These homemade bread crumbs can be frozen in a sealed container. Just reach right in and dig out what you need, when you need it. Making your own breadcrumbs is also a great way to use up stale bread and save some money!

My bread crumb experience was a wakeup call to me, that I hadn’t been eating as well as I’d thought. I do occasionally use a can of soup, gravy mix packet, pre-made pie crust, etc., in my cooking, but when I do so, I know that I’m using processed foods. The shock was realizing that unhealthy foods could be hiding in my kitchen. What do I reach for, thinking it’s a healthy choice for my family, when it’s really not?

This year I challenge you to read those labels more often. Don’t assume something must be healthy. Check and know for sure!

Have you ever been surprised after reading ingredient labels? What foods do you try to make from scratch rather than buy prepackaged and processed?

*When I’m talking about “processed” foods being unhealthy, I don’t include foods like nuts, milk, oats, olive oil, cheese, etc. All of these foods are processed to some extent, but are still healthy, at least in moderate quantities. When I say “processed” foods, I’m generally talking about your prepackaged meals like Hamburger Helper, sugary cereals, hot dogs, pre-formed burgers, french fries, etc. These foods are heavily processed, and the ingredient lists are usually a little scary.

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