As you peak through your squinted eyes in an attempt to press snooze, you discover you’ve got 15 minutes to shower, dress, and defrost your car. Somehow you are suppose to fit breakfast into that routine… but how? Then, a wave of relief rolls over you as you recall the over night oats sitting in your fridge. Today, breakfast is not worth stressing.
What are overnight oats? They are exactly as they sound- oatmeal created overnight. Simply pour dry whole rolled oats into a jar, add a liquid, protein, perhaps fruit or something crunchy, shake it, and let it sit in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. The liquid will penetrate the oat bran and soak through the grain creating a lightly sweet and soft texture. No need for the stove top!
Overnight oats are not only easy, but also filling, affordable, and versatile. If cold oats are not your jam, just pop them in the microwave for a minute! This balanced breakfast will make your morning routine a breeze.
Let’s break it down by ingredient.
Your milk of choice should completely cover the oats. I repeat, make sure they are submerged! Dry oats will absorb almost all the liquid. There should also be enough liquid to coat all ingredients once mixed. If not, just add a splash more. Less milk makes for a thicker consistency. This may make it too tough though if you plan to eat them hot. If that happens, just add a bit more milk and take note for next time. If allergies aren’t a concern, choose organic soy or cow milk as they contain complete protein compared to alternatives. For a lower calorie option use water or try unsweetened chai tea for some extra spice!
This is an important part of the meal to create a balanced breakfast! Researched shows that starting the day off with protein improves satiety and blood sugar. Nut butters mix well with oatmeal, add tons of flavor and are easy to find. If protein powder is your choice, I recommend cutting back on the oats by 25% and increasing the liquid. The powder, if not dissolved well, may make your oats gritty and even too sweet. Another protein option is yogurt. Using plain is best to decrease added sugar content, however if that is too tart for your taste buds try a flavored Greek style or strained yogurt. Flavored yogurt can serve as a two-for-one, meaning you won't need to add fruit or honey.
If you want a crunch, add a sprinkle of sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds). They can be mixed in or placed on top. Seeds increase both fiber and healthy fats leaving you full longer. Chia seeds can be placed in raw since they will absorb the milk and swell up. Flax seeds work well when ground - since the whole seeds pass right through you.
I almost never make ONO without a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon, a splash of extract, and a dash of salt. Any additional spice will elevate your oatmeal game though. From allspice, cocoa powder, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla extract, or cardamom - endless flavor combinations are possible! If you choose all unsweetened items, add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup for a sweet touch.
Check out the handout for a quick “How -To” Infographic as well as the recipes below for ideas.
Created by Taelin Lanier, RD
The other week, I was chatting with someone who has been reading these blog posts. When I asked this person, “What vegetable do you next want to read about?” the request was fennel. I think fennel is one of the most overlooked vegetables in the produce aisle. And I think you are missing out by avoiding it.
Fennel is in the parsley/carrot family, so you will see many recipes, including the one below, pairing carrots and fennel. Other vegetables in this family include parsnips, and spices such as anise, celery seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, dill, cumin and parsley.
It is most abundant in the winter months, but you will generally find it year-round in the grocery store. The price may vary more than its availability.
It’s texture is similar to celery – think of that fresh, crisp crunch. When cut into, fennel is in segments, like a whole celery “bunch” is. It’s easiest to cut it when you halve it first from top to bottom, so you have a flat edge to lay down on the cutting board. Some folks will use the entire vegetable; others will only use the white part, with maybe a sprinkling of chopped fronds for decoration.
How do you eat fennel?
Fennel can be prepared in some of the similar ways as carrots and celery and provide “texture” to a dish, like carrots and celery do. Raw, you can add thinly sliced fennel to salads and slaws. The licorice flavor is milder if you roast, braise, sauté or grill it. You can use fennel in soups or stews; as part of a stir-fry; roasted alone or with other mixed vegetables; or chopped and sautéed with some potatoes for a morning breakfast hash with eggs.
How healthy is fennel?
One cup of raw, sliced fennel has only 27 calories and it is a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber and potassium. Fennel contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals that can provide a number of health benefits, such as bone health, blood pressure, heart health, digestive regularity, and more.
I hope you enjoy the colorful recipe below, as well as try out some of the recipes in the links provided. Comment below with some of your favorite dishes.
~ Nancy Miller, MS, RDN
Options: If you don’t eat all of this within a day or two, cook it at 350°F in the oven for 30 minutes You will then have a whole different version of this dish to enjoy for another few meals.
Adapted from: https://steamykitchen.com/20939-french-carrot-fennel-salad-recipe.html
Check out these links for additional fennel recipes:
Having been in India for over a week now, I can assuredly say that I have developed a habit for afternoon chai. There is something respectable about this common daily ritual that is enjoyed by all demographics....a sophistication in simplicity.
From a practical sense, it helps to bridge the hunger gap between lunch and the late dinners that are typical here. Cookies or sweet crackers may be an accompaniment. It is also a social time to share a cup and a chat.
Fresh spice aromas and the warm, slightly caffeinated pick-me-up are especially comforting on days like today, which we spent tromping around in the heavy snowfall in Shimla.
Chai literally translates as "tea", so saying "chai tea" (like we do in the States) is redundant. The recipes for chai vary by region, by household and by cook. Here is Lalu's version that he kindly prepares for us every afternoon:
Since chai is boiled, it is a safe way to hydrate for Americans with sensitive GI tracts. We have enjoyed chai in rural villages, at the Golden Temple, at road-side dhabas and in the coziness of our Shimla home. It has been an enjoyable experience every single cup. Namaste.
The past few months I’ve been writing about various cruciferous vegetables, such as kohlrabi and rutabaga. The next logical vegetable to write about is turnips. I have always avoided them, saying to myself that I didn’t like them. When, in reality, I had never had a turnip. Have you? How often do we dismiss vegetables because of their reputation or because of their unfamiliarity, saying we don’t like them, when we have never actually eaten them?
Turnips, like rutabagas, are root vegetables in the cruciferous vegetable category (Brassica rapa genus). Turnips in the U.S. have purple “shoulders” and a white “body” (rutabagas are creamy colored and have a different color of purple “shoulders”). In other parts of the world, turnips and rutabagas are considered similar (rutabagas are also called yellow turnips or wax turnips).
Similar to other root vegetables (like beets and rutabagas), they have a skin that needs peeling to remove a possible wax coating. And, like most root vegetables, their peek season is from late fall through the end of winter.
What does a turnip taste like?
Similar to other cruciferous vegetables, most turnips have a substance that makes them taste bitter when raw, but mellows when cooked (like Brussels sprouts). Some say that turnips taste like a cross between cabbage and a radish; others say they taste more like a cross between a carrot and a potato. When cooked, they have a smooth texture. Give them a try and leave a comment below to let us know what you think!
As a side note, turnip greens are related to mustard greens, so they have a similar flavor. Wikipedia states that rapini (broccoli rabe), bok choy, and Chinese cabbage are all varieties of turnip developed specifically for their leaves instead of the root underneath.
How do you eat a turnip?
How nutritious are turnips?
Turnip roots are high in vitamin C and are a good source of dietary fiber, folate, copper, potassium, manganese, and vitamin B6.
Turnip greens are an excellent source of folate and vitamins A, K and C and are a good source of calcium, Vitamin E, vitamin B6, fiber, potassium, and manganese.
There are many different turnip varieties available to grow in your own garden, including heirloom varieties. These come in all shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. Let us know in the comment box below if you have ever tried any non-supermarket varieties!
I hope you enjoy the recipe below as much as my family has. In the recipe, I used a mix of cauliflower and turnip as an introduction to this powerhouse of a vegetable. I look forward to cooking with it more in the future.
White Bean and Bacon with Greens and Turnips
Recipe adapted from Naturally Ella
What’s great about this recipe is that the amounts don’t have to be exact. And you can use canned beans and tomatoes for a quick weeknight dinner.
~Nancy Miller, MS, RDN
In the spirit of giving, I thought I would share a new lightened-up version of one of my favorite comfort food dishes, Nacho Salad. This recipe flips the standard nacho dish on its head. Instead of tortilla chips and cheese acting in starring roles, vegetables and beans get their moment in the spotlight. This recipe is colorful and nutrient dense. What makes the recipe even more attractive, is the amount of time it takes to create the dish from start to finish and the cost to prepare it. You can be ready to eat in no more than 10-minutes if you have all the ingredients on hand and the dish is extremely low-cost by utilizing store-brand and canned products. Follow the steps below and you will have a deliciously simple, quick, nutritious, cost-conscious, "go-to" recipe for lunch or dinner!
The ingredients in this salad can be purchased at any grocery store. Though, I think it is always nice to provide you with the ingredients I used to make the recipe so you can easily find what you need at the grocery store. I bought all my ingredients at Trader Joe’s.
~Sara Mussa, RDN, CD
What does a rutabaga taste like?
Some folks may find rutabagas slightly bitter, however their sweetness comes out when roasted, particularly when combined with other vegetables, such as in the dish below. The sweetness is not overpowering, but more like a delicious, less-starchy potato.
How do you eat rutabaga?
Rutabagas are most delicious roasted or puréed, where their sweetness comes out. However, they can also be enjoyed raw, like jicama or celeriac.
Ideas for using a rutabaga:
How nutritious are rutabagas?
Raw rutabagas are rich in vitamin C (58% DV) and are a good source of fiber (14% DV), manganese (12%), and potassium (13%). One cup of sliced raw rutabagas contain almost two grams of protein. (2)
The dish below is a colorful addition to your holiday celebrations. My extended family enjoyed it immensely this past weekend. And if you want to “geek out” over more information about this delicious vegetable, click here.
Roasted Mixed Vegetables with Sour Cherries
~Nancy Miller, MA, MS, RDN
Since we are well into the holiday season, we've rounded up 12 healthier holiday recipes that are perfect to bring to a party or simply to enjoy at home! All recipes are Dietitian created!
What does a sunchoke taste like?
Choose sunchokes that are very firm and smooth. Some say they taste like artichoke hearts. Others say they are rather sweet and nutty. They have a texture like a potato and are creamy when cooked.
How do you eat sunchokes?
Keep in mind, the flesh of the sunchoke turns brown, like apples or pears, when exposed to air. Mix with chopped raw vegetables and a tiny bit of lemon juice, should you plan on them sitting out for awhile. Like kohlrabi and jicama, you can eat this vegetable either raw or cooked.
Ideas for using these include:
How nutritious are sunchokes?
Sunchokes are rich in iron, potassium and thiamine. One cup of sliced sunchokes contains three grams of protein. They are also a good source of copper, niacin and vitamin C. (1) This vegetable is high in inulin, a “prebiotic” soluble fiber, which may help control your blood sugar. (2) This inulin can also cause gas. To avoid this, some say to use sunchokes that have been through a frost and others say to be sure to use lemon juice when you cook them. (3) Try each method and let me know what works for you!
Since we have eaten them, in the dish highlighted below, we are now discussing where to plant them in our garden in the spring.
The recipe below may seem lengthy, but it’s fairly straightforward and full of flavor. See notes after recipe.
Lentil Stew with Steamed Rock Fish and Sunchokes
Recipe adapted from Cancer Lifeline Cookbook by Kimberly Mathai, MS, RD
~Nancy Miller, MA, MS, RDN
Turkey day is right around the corner. Just saying that makes most of us salivate. We can’t help but think of the nostalgic comfort foods unique to our family table. For myself, it would be melt-in-your-mouth turkey, buttery mash potatoes, sweet and savory stuffing, green bean casserole, Brussel sprouts, soft rolls with butter, and pumpkin or apple pie with a scoop of ice cream (because you must have both options, right?). If you weren’t salivating before, you have to be now.
All this delicious food usually takes front and center stage on Thanksgiving. However, we shouldn’t forget to practice an essential skill, mindfulness. The very mission of Thanksgiving (in the 21st century) is to acknowledge all that we are thankful for. Our family and friends, the roof over our heads, the success we’ve experienced professionally, and the list goes on. By doing this, we are, in a way, practicing mindfulness. So this year, let’s try to be thankful for our meal by being mindful about how we consume it.
How do we practice mindful eating? Though there are no universal standards, we should try implementing practices during our eating times that allow us to appreciate the food we eat. For myself, that means turning on smooth jazz, sitting down at a table, slowing down my eating speed, and enjoying all the sensory perceptions I have during a meal (sight, sound, smell, taste, and feel). It is also important to acknowledge and embrace the environment around us, whether alone or around a crowded table.
There are many different ways to practice mindful eating. Here are a few tips for you to try this Thanksgiving:
3. Balance your plate. Use your eyes to create a well-rounded meal that is nutrient-dense. Instead of filling up your entire plate with mash potatoes and stuffing, have, for example, turkey, mash potatoes, stuffing, and Brussel sprouts each take up ¼ of your plate. Ensuring you get enough carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber will help you feel more satisfied with your meal.
4. Slow down and eat with all your senses. Once you have balanced your plate, make sure to slow down and take time to be thankful for the meal in front of you. Look at the food, smell the lovely aromas mixing together, take a bite and pay attention to how it feels in your mouth. Try to remember the ingredients that went into making each recipe as you taste it.
One of the reasons to try new vegetables you may or may not have noticed at the grocery story is to get out of the rut that mealtimes can bring over time. There’s an tan-colored, oval, root vegetable you maybe have seen at the store and not known what it is or how to pronounce its name. It’s called jicama (pronounced “hee-kah-mah”). Some may call it a yam bean or a Mexican water chestnut. It is part of the legume (bean) family. This is a tuber like a potato, but it is less starchy. However, the tough skin on a jicama needs to be peeled with a knife (not a vegetable peeler – the skin is too tough) because it contains a toxin (that is NOT found in the fleshy part of the tuber).
What does a jicama taste like?
A jicama is sweet like a pear or apple, but it is starchier. When eaten raw, it is quite crunchy, making it ideal for nut butters, hummus and other dips.
How do you chose a jicama?
Choose smaller jicamas because they are less fibrous. Choose ones with smooth skins because shriveled skin is a sign of an older tuber. They do not need to be refrigerated until they are cut open. If you find a jicama that is too large, ask the produce worker to cut into half or fourths.
How do you eat a jicama?
You can eat a jicama either raw or cooked, as you would eat an apple, pear, or kohlrabi. Some ideas for using it are:
How nutritious is jicama?
Jicama is low in calories (46 calories for one cup of sliced, raw jicama) and high in soluble dietary fiber. Soluble fiber can help lower your blood LDL levels and can normalize blood glucose levels. Jicama is also very high in vitamin C (40% of your daily needs). Vitamin C supports your immune system and provides powerful antioxidants to aid your body’s cells.
Mealtimes don’t need to be boring if you add new vegetables into the rotation. Drop us a comment and tell us about your adventures with vegetables you haven’t tried before, such as jicama, celeriac, or kohlrabi.
For a quick tutorial in how to prepare a jicama, click here.
~Nancy Miller, MS, RDN
A place for our consultant Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to share nutrition science, yummy and healthy recipes, tips on seasonal ingredients, and other nutritional musings. Enjoy!