Cold Weather, Warm Belly
Baby it’s cold outside! Winter came early in Texas this year, but cold weather cooking is some of my favorite. A warm breakfast on a chilly morning starts the day out right. I know it’s hard to get out of a cozy bed and mornings can be hectic. Finding time to cook a healthy breakfast is the last thing on your mind. Most people think bacon and eggs when they want protein for breakfast. Some go for yogurt or a smoothie, but that won’t do on a frozen morning. And while it may be tempting to pop a waffle in the toaster, in under 5 minutes, you can have a weeks worth of warm breakfast ready to go that’s packed with protein and fiber- Overnight Chia Oatmeal. Top it with homemade applesauce and chopped pecans for a breakfast that tastes like dessert.
Meal Prep Made Easy
Meal prep doesn’t have to be overwhelming. One or two simple make aheads can make a big difference in your week. This one is great because kids can help make their own bowls. My two favorites are this applesauce recipe and blueberries and cream. Letting your family customize their own bowls takes some of the stress and guesswork out of breakfast as well. Kids love eating something they helped create.
I love these in smoothies. They make a great substitute for eggs in baking. But on cold winter mornings, they add protein and fiber to oatmeal that lasts all day. These tiny seeds absorb a lot of liquid and take on the flavor of whatever you add to them. Vanilla gives them a creamy goodness you’ll love.
The Night Before
On Sunday nights, I gather a few simple ingredients and in a matter of minutes a weeks worth of breakfast is ready to go. I like using small glass bowls with lids like the ones made by Anchor Hocking. They come in a variety of sizes and stack easily in the fridge. Best of all, your oatmeal can go from fridge to microwave to belly all in one dish. You can find them easily on Amazon and be ready to go by tomorrow!
Mix all the dry ingredients. Be sure to use regular rolled oats. Quick cooking oats will get too mushy and absorb less of the liquid. I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk and add a splash of vanilla extract. Cover and place in the fridge until ready to heat. These don’t need sugar because you’ll be adding the sweet applesauce later.
When ready to heat, add a pat of butter or coconut oil (the fat helps keep you feeling full longer and makes you feel more satisfied), and pop in the microwave for 1-1.5 minutes. Top with applesauce and pecan pieces and enjoy. If you are adding fruit, and frozen blueberries work great in this btw, just add your fruit on top and a teaspoon of your favorite sweetener over the fruit.
Once you master this recipe, it’s easy to get creative. Try peanut butter and banana or strawberries and cream. Any flavor you can find in a packet, you can make at home. You control the sugar and the salt. Plus these are packed with real fruit and heart healthy rolled oats and chia seeds.
If you have an Instapot or pressure cooker you can have applesauce in about 15 minutes. Aside from peeling the apples, which you can skip if you chop them up small enough, this is a dump and go recipe. It’s actually a riff on my homemade apple pie filling. You can 100% adjust the sugar up or down. If you decide to use no sugar, I suggest adding a bit more cinnamon and a squeeze of honey or maple syrup. You only need a few tablespoons on top to make this oatmeal taste like dessert.
Like I said, this is a dump and go. Chop up the apples and add them to the instapot or pressure cooker. Add dry ingredients and stir until apples are evenly coated. Add liquid and stir. Set on high and cook for 5-10 minutes depending on the size and number of apples you use. That’s it. You can mash apples further or leave chunky, but either way these are the perfect topping for your overnight chia oatmeal.
I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe. Experiment with it and make it your own. Kids who cook with their parents are much more likely to try new things. But don’t forget to make some for you too. A warm breakfast feeds the soul and nourishes the body.