Three months ago I carved out one morning a week for myself and volunteered as a chef’s assistant at the Boston Public Market. The kids were up, fed and dressed by 7am; bright-eyed, sort of, for our saint or, rather, sitter who agreed to come at such an ungodly hour.
Showered and caffeinated by the time our sitter walked into the house, I was ready for my morning. Bubba and I drove into the city together, alone. Sometimes we chatted. Other times there was nothing left to say so we just sat, quietly, listening to the radio, his hand reaching for mine while I stared out the window. The traffic which normally would stress me didn’t phase me at all. We were together and still. Nothing left to do but wait..for the next part of our day to start. A quick kiss and we parted for the day. He off to his world I know nothing of and me running to the kitchen.
I spent my time at the market prepping food, discussing recipes and chatting with other volunteers. I didn’t reach for my phone or check the clock. I was present, in the moment, happy to be away from favorites, my one and only(s) for just a few hours.
When my shift ended I walked straight to my favorite vendor: Mother Juice. Every week, without fail I ordered the same damn thing: overnight oats with almond milk, banana and dates, topped with almond butter, granola and fresh fruit. Being someone who likes food, you would think I would try something new each week. Nope. I craved the oats. Licked the spoon when I was done. I couldn’t get enough of them. If someone offered me an another bowl, I would say yes without a bit of hesitation in my gut.
The banana and dates made the oats slightly sweet. And then a surprise as I swirled my spoon around: bits of almond butter covered oats! I was as delighted as a child who finds the hidden marzipan in the holiday cranberry stollen. Yet, the texture blast that followed is what really sold me on the oats: crunchy granola topped with fresh, bright berries. Amazing!
My weekly shift in the Kitchen ended two weeks ago, but my craving for overnight oats remains strong, just as my need for some time away. The delicious, creamy oats satisfied my hunger. But the time just sitting with Bubba and then, alone soothed and sustained my soul. I made my version of overnight oats with some inspiration from a few fellow food bloggers. It’s a start, it’s a step, it’s something.
Overnight Oats with Pumpkin Granola and Apple Crunch
Oats recipe from Oh She Glows
Apple Crunch adapted from Green Kitchen Stories
Pumpkin Granola adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen
Serves 4, 2 generously
Ingredients for Oats:
2 large bananas, mashed until smooth
4 tablespoons of chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup old-fashion rolled oats
1 + 1/2 cup milk of your choice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using a small bowl, mash the bananas until smooth. Add the chia seeds and cinnamon and stir until well combined.
Add the oats, milk and vanilla. Stir. Store in an air-tight container and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.
When ready to use, stir the oat mixture. If the mixture is too thick, add a little milk. If it is too soupy, add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and refrigerate until it is thicker. Oats, stored in an air-tight container and refrigerated, will last up to 2 days.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Granola:
2 + 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 pumpkin puree
2 cups old-fashion oats
1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds or pepitas
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
Pre-heat oven to 325F. Using a large mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, maple syrup and pumpkin puree. Add the oats, almonds and pumpkin seeds and stir until well coated.
Spread the oats on a baking sheet, leaving some of the clusters intact, so you will end up with yummy, crunchy clusters. Bake granola for until golden brown, about 40-45 minutes. **Be sure to stir the granola once or twice during baking time.** Remove from the oven and allow the granola to cool completely. Add cranberries and a sprinkle of sea salt. Mix and store in air-tight container for 2 weeks.
Ingredients for Apple Crunch:
1 large apple, small dice
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of ginger
pinch of cardamom
sprinkle of sea salt
Chop apple and set aside. Heat coconut oil and maple syrup in a skillet. Add apple, pumpkin seeds, almonds and spices. Cook, stirring often, until the apple are soft and the nuts and seeds crunchy, about 8 minutes. Remove apple crunch from pan and store in an air-tight container at room temperature until ready to use.
Grab a jar or bowl, whatever suits you and add the oats. Next add a dollop of almond butter (optional, but yummy) followed by a handful of granola. Lastly, top this bowl health with heaping spoonful or two of apple crunch. Sit down and enjoy!
*I like my oats at room temperature. They taste great cold, room temperature or warm. You decide!*
5 Overnight Oats Links!
New to overnight oats for breakfast? Head to the Food Network’s blog for a tutorial by Min Kwon of the food blog The Adventures of MJ and Hungryman.
Peanut butter lovers everywhere must check out Minimalist Baker’s recipe for peanut butter overnight oats. Yum! Have a nut allergy? Use Sunbutter instead!
Steel cut oats can also be made the night before for a healthy and hearty breakfast. Head to the Lemon Bowl for overnight refrigerator steel-cut oats.
The kitchn’s recipe for blueberry pie overnight oats is on my must make list. Pie crust topping, fresh blueberries, oatmeal? Yes, please!
If you don’t want to follow a recipe, head to Food 52 for their tips on how to make overnight oats without a recipe.