Thursday, May 22, 2014

Refrigerator Oatmeal

A few weeks ago, I tried out a new idea (new to us, not really a new idea at all) for breakfast, called Refrigerator Oatmeal (or Overnight Oats).  When the girls were still in school, our mornings were so rushed, and trying to get a healthy breakfast ready for them before we had to head out the door was a challenge.  The kids love oatmeal, and though it's easy to make in the mornings, preparing it, waiting for it to cool, and finally eating it, was just taking too much time.  So when I saw the recipes for Refrigerator Oatmeal on Pinterest, I thought it was worth a try.  And after our first attempt, I wished I had tried it so much earlier!  The kids loved it, and even I liked it, though I am only lukewarm about traditional oatmeal.  I thought I would share the recipe I used with y'all, so even though it's summer, you can feed your kids a filling and very nutritious breakfast all summer long, and be ready for easy mornings come fall!

I used this as a general guideline for the basic recipe.

1 cup old fashioned oats (you can also do 3/4 cup old fashioned oats and 1/4 cup steel cut oats, or one full cup of steel cut oats)
2 tablespoons milled flax seed
1 cup Greek yogurt (I used vanilla flavored, but you can use plain or really any other flavor)

You start with the oats, and scoop them into a large mason jar, then the flax, then the yogurt.  Then, the fun begins!  The flavor combinations are pretty much endless, and you can find lots of options on Pinterest.  I kept our first round pretty simple.  To the first jar, I added a cup of diced peaches and a teaspoon of vanilla.  To the second jar, I added a cup of blackberries, and to the third, I added a cup of applesauce and a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.  

Then, once you have added the good stuff to each jar, fill the jar to the lip with milk.  Put the lid on the jar, make sure it's closed tightly, and SHAKE!  Shake to combine all the ingredients, and make sure everything is well combined, and certainly that the milk is getting to the oats beginning to absorb.  Place in the fridge overnight, and you are good until morning!  It's that easy!

In the morning, scoop the Refrigerator Oatmeal into a bowl, and you can heat it or leave it cold (I actually like it better cold!).  I tried the blackberry, and drizzled honey and more fresh blackberries over the top.  It was GREAT!  I thought the sweet vanilla yogurt was going to be sweet enough, but it needed the sweetness of the honey.  The kids really liked the peach and gobbled it up!  

There are sooooo many variations on the recipe, and you can really personalize it and make it to fit your diet and tastes.  A few people on Instagram suggested adding chia seeds (adds fiber and omega-3's), using almond milk, and then of course, the fruit additions are endless.  Here are a few more fruit combinations that I am anxious to try:

Mango with vanilla and honey
Blueberries with lemon extract and blueberry yogurt
Applesauce and Chai tea
Bananas, cinnamon, vanilla and maple syrup (YUM!)
Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries with mixed berry yogurt

I am so glad I went out on a limb and tried something new for breakfast.  Have you made Refrigerator Oatmeal before??  What are your favorite recipes?  I would love to hear the combinations your family likes the best!

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