I love making this quick, filling breakfast with zero sweetener added and ingredients that are wholesome and mostly raw. These oats are perfect for when you’re on the go and need something quick to grab and take with you. These make ahead oats are meant to be made the night before and will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. This recipe is super simple, everything is mixed in one bowl and takes under 10 minutes to prepare. I love using mini mason jars to store the oats, which are the perfect size and super portable.
The chocolatey goodness in these oats is created by using raw cacao powder. Cacao is not to be confused with cocoa or any other chocolate product. The recent craze around eating dark chocolate is really in reference to raw cacao, which provides all of health benefits without added dairy, emulsifiers (think soy lecithin) and other preservatives and additives that are best to be avoided.
Cacao is chocolate in the most unrefined, raw form. You may be surprised to learn that cacao is created by fermenting cacao beans and then sun-drying them. It should be noted that while the process includes fermentation and sun-drying, when we refer to raw cacao what this means is sun dried. The addition of raw cacao in your breakfast is a terrific way to get your morning started as it is rich in magnesium which enhances energy levels (and interestingly will also help with sleeping too). Cacao contains the highest source of antioxidants in the world and is exceptionally rich in: chromium, iron, theobromine, copper, vitamin C, omega-6 fatty acids, and natural phenylethylamine (PEA).*
I have found that old fashion rolled oats work really well when making overnight oats. There have been numerous studies which have documented the various health benefits of oats. It has been found that consuming oats helps lower LDL "bad" cholesterol and may help reduce the risk of heart disease. They also help feel you fuller longer which is why incorporating oats into your breakfast is are a great way to start your day. Oats contain soluble fiber which helps control blood sugar levels and are high in beta-glucans, which is a type of of starch that stimulates the immune system. Additionally, they are are higher in protein and healthy fats, and lower in carbohydrates compared to the majority other whole grains and contain more soluble fiber than any other grain. To top off the list, oats contain more than 20 unique polyphenols called avenanthramides, which have strong anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-itching activity and have the best amino acid balance of all the cereal grains out there.**
If you are concerned about gluten it should be highlighted that you should be sure to read labels when purchasing oats and look for oats that have a “gluten-free” label on the packaging. I attended a cooking demo at Gluten Free Garage in the fall of 2014, which was hosted by Ashley Wittig who is the owner of local Toronto Bunner’s Vegan and Gluten-Free Bake Shop. During the demo Ashley explained that oats are gluten-free by nature but are sometimes contaminated during processing or even in the field during production.
This recipe also includes chia and hemp which are both excellent plant-based sources of protein and full of Omega-3 and 6, which are essential fatty acids that have heart health and anti- inflammatory benefits. Sun-dried organic raw goji berries make a healthy and vibrant topping for these oats. Goji berries have been used in Asian herbal medicine for over 5,000 years and are one of the most nutrient rich foods in existence. It is also an excellent plant-based source of iron, protein, contains essential amino acids and is rich in vitamins A and C.*** The addition of raw coconut flakes is a healthful source of fat and tastes pretty great too!
Now for the recipe..
For 3 servings you will need:
1 cup rolled oats
1 mashed banana
1 + 1/2 cups rice milk (or other milk alternative)
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
dash Himalayan pink salt
2 - 3 tbsp Hemp hearts (plus extra for garnish)
1/8 cup shredded raw coconut
3 tsp goji berries
1. Mash banana in a medium mixing bowl.
2. Add milk, oats, chia, raw cacao powder, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and hemp into bowl and mix well.
3. Divide oats equally into 3 small jars or glass containers and top with raw coconut, hemp and goji berries. Cover with lids and place into the refrigerator overnight. These will keep for a couple of days.
* Milson, Shane T. "From the Cacao Tree to Your Mouth: The Wild Journey of Chocolate." The Raw Naked Truth. N.p., 19 Nov. 2014. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://therawnakedtruth.me/from-the-cacao-tree-to-your-mouth-the-wild-journey-of-chocolate/>.
**”ORGANIC THICK ROLLED OATS." Bob's Red Mill. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. <http://www.bobsredmill.com/organic-thick-rolled-oats.html>.
*** Navitas Naturals. Goji Berries. N.p.: Navitas Naturals, n.d. Print.