I tend to skip the grains; I love basing my meals in a protein and unlimited nutrient-dense veggies, as I find it fuels me optimally and makes me feel my best. I'm not alone, with most of my patients feeling better eating closer to paleo style, as well, or at least gluten-free. That being said, I certainly have my grainy moments, and there is a special place in my heart for (gluten-free) oats.
What's So Great About Oats?
Oats are nourishing, comforting, filling. They have decent soluble and insoluble fiber content, and are rich in minerals. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, oats have the properties of being warming and soothing, and they strengthen digestive, nervous, and reproductive systems. If you're a patient of mine that I have told has "dampness" (and oh is it rampant, since sugar/gluten/dairy/alcohol/fried foods will all contribute to this state!), oats are "drying" so they can help balance said dampness.
How To Choose Your Oats
You will see below that I mentioned to NOT use quick or instant oats for this recipe- the reason is twofold. For one, the oats will be a pile of mush by morning. Secondly, much of the beta-glucan, the awesome cholesterol-binding, blood sugar-stabilizing soluble fiber component of oats, is removed from these types. Don't miss out on that beauty!
Steel-cut oats are less processed than old-fashioned/rolled oats, thus will affect blood sugar less, as they take longer to digest. Though both are appropriate for use in the recipe, steel-cut will be chewier than rolled oats, and might need longer soaking.
Quick note about oats' gluten content: Oats don't actually contain gluten. They are just always grown with, and always processed with, wheat, to the point that they're considered a gluten-containing grain! That's why it's possible to buy gluten-free oats. Which I would recommend.
Organic is obviously always a plus, to avoid the pesticide use on all crops.
Why Pump Up Your Oats?
My only qualm with patients having just oats for breakfast is that they're high in carbs and fiber, but contain minimal protein and fat. In order to stabilize blood sugar, and provide a balanced meal, I like the meals to have those latter two macros, so enter: Protein-Packed Overnight Oats! For more details on why protein is so important and how much you need, click here.
In the below recipe, the protein powder pumps it up, and the hemp hearts and/or chia seeds add dense fiber, healthy fat, and some extra protein (along with beautiful micronutrients). If you need any guidance on how to choose your protein powder, see my blog on Protein Procurement.
Essentially the protein powder acts as the tasty "milk" to the oats, so make sure you really enjoy your protein powder! You can choose hemp or chia, or both, but I would recommend using about 2 tbsp of whatever you choose.
Protein-Packed Overnight Oats Recipe:
- 2/3 cup water (adjust amount to desired consistency)
- 1 scoop of tasty protein powder
- 1/3 cup (gluten-free) oats- any type except quick/instant
Optional additions to the blending stage:
- ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg
- pumpkin puree
- any nut butters
- tasty greens powder
Optional additions to post-blending stage, mixed in or topping the oats:
- chia seeds, hemp hearts (2 tbsp total)
- any nuts/seeds
- any fruits (especially berries for their low glycemic index and high antioxidant value- if you're buying strawberries try to buy organic as they're extremely high in pesticide residues)
- Blend the protein powder with the water (and any other "blending" additions mentioned above).
Add the oats and any other "post-blending" additions mentioned above.
- Refrigerate overnight. Tada! You can try to heat it up the next day if you'd like, but I cannot predict how your protein powder will react with heat. Store in fridge up to 5 days.
You could also make a large batch in a bowl then divide it up into the mason jars, to save time.
Let me know how this goes for you!