Overnight Oatmeal Parfait
Grab-and-go nutritious breakfast
One barrier to eating a nutritious breakfast is having the time to make one. This is especially true for teenagers in school. Athens Drive High School, right across the street from my home, starts their first period at 7:25 a.m. Who has time to make breakfast AND get to your first class by 7:25 in the morning?
Overnight oatmeal parfaits provide a solution. Oatmeal and other ingredients are allowed to soak in milk or another liquid, topped with yogurt, overnight. No cooking is involved and the result is portable, tasty, and nutritious.
Eating Breakfast Is Important (Or Is It?)
There have been many studies associating higher weight and increased fat mass with skipping breakfast, but they never proved that skipping breakfast would cause weight gain. It could just be that breakfast eaters have an overall healthier lifestyle.
A recent meta-analysis of studies "found no evidence to support the notion that breakfast consumption promotes weight loss or that skipping breakfast leads to weight gain." (1) Even the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has backed off telling people skipping breakfast leads to weight gain.
But for me, eating breakfast is important. If I don't eat breakfast I'm so hungry at lunchtime I can't think straight, and I'm much more likely to make poor food choices for lunch. I just want to eat whatever I can get my hands on the fastest.
These parfaits contain 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup oat milk, 1 T chia seeds, 1 T raw pumpkin seeds, 1 T chopped dried apricots, 1/4 c dried blueberries, 1 heaping T unsweetened coconut, a couple grinds of black pepper, and are topped with either strawberry or peach Activia yogurt.
A Good Mix of Macros and Fiber
The acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges (AMDR) set forth by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommend that people get:
45–65% of their calories from carbs
10–35% of their calories from proteins
20–35% of their calories from fats
So how does an overnight oatmeal parfait stack up? Here's one example:
These overnight oatmeal parfaits start your day off within the acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges and give you a nice start on your dietary fiber intake for the day, too!
The combination of protein, fat, and the soluble oat fiber β-glucan work together to keep you feeling full for an extended period of time.
Three or more grams of oat β-glucan each day lowers total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (aka LDL or "bad" cholesterol) levels by 5 to 10% in people with normal or elevated blood cholesterol levels (2).
So, How Do You Make Them?
Easy-peasy, that's how. You don't really need a recipe, just put some oatmeal in a jar with an equal amount of milk, almond milk, oatmilk, soymilk, or whatever you like. Add seeds, nuts, fresh or dried fruits, and coconut. Top it off with your favorite yogurt. Let it sit in the fridge overnight and up to several days (it gets better over time).
I used to mix all the ingredients together before topping it with yogurt, but I've found I like it even more when I don't mix it up. Then each bite tastes a little different.
1. Sievert K, Hussain SM, Page MJ, et al. Effect of breakfast on weight and energy intake: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ. 2019;364:l42. Published 2019 Jan 30. doi:10.1136/bmj.l42
2. Anne Whitehead, Eleanor J Beck, Susan Tosh, Thomas MS Wolever, Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 100, Issue 6, December 2014, Pages 1413–1421, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.114.086108