Thanks to the direction of my Fat Camp instructress D I have a renewed interest in food labels and sugar content and quite frankly this has ruined my breakfast.
My current plan involves avoiding anything processed with a sugar content of over 5%. I say ‘current’, this is something I should have maintained since my brush with pre-diabetes some years ago. Food manufacturers put sugar in EVERYTHING. Well almost everything because it’s cheap and arguably addictive and it tastes nice so then we want to eat more of it so we buy more of it. No rocket science here today, kids. I’m not going to get into an argument on the virtues and pitfalls of dietary sugar but I am going to go out on a limb and say that there isn’t a credible source out there for eating more of it.
So we get healthy, we lose weight, we cut sugar, we are On A Diet. So obviously: bran flakes. Dieters eat bran flakes because they are high fibre and unenjoyable enough to give you a good dose of smug self righteousness in the morning, correct?
Only your average bran flake is coming in at around 20% sugar. Huh.
Ok then I used to have Special K so maybe I’ll go back to that. Special K is super healthy ask the woman in the ads in the foxy red dress, right? Special K packs about 17% sugar with more fat and less fibre than the abandoned branflakes. Huh.
We went through several more options and just at my weakest, most disappointed point D hit me with her finishing move – the short and painful list of cereals that fall under the 5% threshold:
Cornflakes (pointless unless you eat a kilo at a time).
Oats (I have no time to cook in the morning and porridge without a ton of jam or syrup is boring).
Shredded Wheat. The big ones.
That was it.
I managed the shredded wheat for about ten days before it made me want to cry into my semi skimmed. I dont like to be in tears before midday but I still don’t have the time to mess around cooking porridge first thing (I already get up early enough TVM) which presented something of an issue. Oats really are the ryvitas of the cereal world in that they have a pretty righteous nutritional profile on their own but no one ever eats them on their own because they are boring! The challenge to overnight oats is to not make them slimy and to not eat them with a massive crunchy pile of sugary fat on top. They are certainly an acquired taste, gloopy and, the way I’ve done them, with a noticeable sour tang stronger than the average yoghurt fan might expect. This is easily covered with some additions just be sensible if you are on a trim mission.
The very basic recipe, which I can confirm should not be monkeyed with, should be equal volumes (not weight!) of oats, milk and natural yoghurt plus a pinch of sea salt. Mix it, cover it, refrigerate over night. Stick it in a mason jar and take photos for your instagram.
Working this to a serving of 5tbspns of each with whole milk and low fat yoghurt will yield you a breakfast of about 350 calories before additions. It does need additions though- either a strong flavour or contrasting texture. Nuts are an obvious choice, dried fruit or a sprinkling of granola all work and if you aren’t trying to watch your sugar or lose weight then have all of these and some jam on top! If you want the benefits of oats without a calorie tax, try the below variations saving the splurge for once a week or very high activity days.
Saintly- add half a tsp of cinnamon to the mix then half a grated apple just before eating for a clean sweet hit. Alternatively you can sweeten with some agave nectar or soft fruits but no more than a small handful.
Luxe- add a teaspoon of a quality cocoa powder and a drop of vanilla extract when mixing. This transforms it into a yummy fake liquidy cake breakfast. A breakfast worth getting up for with negligible calorie addition. Just use a good cocoa, not some crappy hot chocolate. Add a few crushed hazelnuts on serving if you are a devil.
Splurge- for guilt free weekends or treat days mix with Greek yoghurt or even a splash of cream then top with almonds and raisins. Or macadamia nuts and dried cranberries. Banana chips, cocoa nibs, honey, brown sugar, half a smashed up dime bar, play around until you find something you like that doesn’t destroy your calorie intake and don’t do it every day.
Oats, like many boring things, are actually awesome, providing a low slow energy release, tummy filling fibre and immune system buddy beta glucans. Try to eat some and if you have some good over night mixes to share I’d love to know.