Most people I know who live truly healthy and balanced lives do not buy into the calorie counting phenomenon. Instead of focusing on calories, they instead seek out real and whole foods that are minimally processed with ingredients they can pronounce. And while balance in life necessitates the occasional anti-real food (I for example am a complete sucker for Reese’s mini peanut butter cups), it is astounding to me just how many people don’t know what this highly processed food does to their body, and as a result eat it unknowingly and constantly. There are hundreds of studies currently on the internet about the effect of processed food-processed here meaning the addition of chemicals, salt, and sugar. Here, here, and here are some examples. What I think a lot of these studies don’t provide, however, are actual workable solutions.
For a lot of people, it is the chaos of daily life that leads them to highly processed foods. They run out the door in the morning with their kids munching on pop tarts (one pop tart has 16 grams of added sugar…and who only has one of those) and then stop at Starbucks for their coffee fix in the form of a Mocha Frappucino (a medium size contains 61 grams of added sugar, or almost three times the daily recommended amount). Or maybe they grab a flavored yogurt from the fridge and top it with granola…which sounds healthy but still contains 20 grams of added sugar (bumping up against the daily suggested dose).
And while I can’t pretend to understand the stress of two working parents with kids, I want to believe I can still provide some solutions that will fit seamlessly into the busy lives of most Americans. On this site I try to provide real food recipes that won’t blow the budget. Even more so, I hope that these recipes don’t feel like a “sufficient substitution” but instead are things people are genuinely excited to make and eat.
These carrot cake overnight oats fit every part of this bill. They manage to taste sweet despite having only a teaspoon of maple syrup added (only 5 grams of sugar), plus are filling thanks to the greek yogurt, rolled oats and nut butter. Further you sneak a vegetable (that also adds some natural sweetness) into your day right away for some satiating fiber, and the whole thing comes together the night before. So take five minutes (tops) to make a jar for just you or each member of your family, and wake up knowing a portable, low mess and low stress (but still so delicious) breakfast is just waiting in your fridge.
Carrot Cake Overnight Oats
Serves one, but is easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled…
A sealable container (bell jars work well here, or any old nut butter jars are great too!)
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (important not to use quick cooking or steel cut)
1/2 cup unsweetened milk of choice (normal dairy, almond, oat, hemp, coconut)
1/8 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 to 1 medium carrot finely grated
1 tablespoon chia seeds (easy to omit if these aren’t your thing!)
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup (depending on your sweetness preference- I went with one teaspoon and was quite happy)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon EACH cinnamon and nutmeg
The smallest pinch of sea salt
Any toppings…One tablespoon nut butter, unsweetened coconut flakes, raisins, additional greek yogurt…the possibilities are endless!
Combine all ingredients (minus the toppings) in a sealable jar and stir well. Cover tightly and let sit in fridge overnight. When you’re heading out the door simply add your toppings, grab a spoon and get going! If hot oats are more your thing, just pop in the microwave until desired temperature is reached.