October already….and it’s obvious to me because of nature’s beauty lining the sidewalks and streets in a colorful pattern. I love the transition of seasons and not just because there is an abundance of new produce waiting for us, or a bunch of clothes we haven’t worn in far too long begging to get out. I see the change of seasons as an opportunity to shed habits that are no longer serving me. Just as the leaves know that it’s time to let go, we need a gentle reminder that it’s OK to let go of emotions or habits or relationships or whatever it is that is holding us back from living our best and most vibrant lives. And, just like the leaves, sometimes the transition is easy and filled with beauty and other times it’s a struggle with colors that are dull.
I try to stay away from processed foods. Yeah, I know they are often convenient, but cooking from scratch with wholesome and unrefined ingredients is the best bet if you are looking to reduce inflammation and susceptibility to disease. If you’re interested in improving your health, this is the place to start: learning to cook with real ingredients and finding the time to do it.
Meal prep has saved me numerous times from having to skip a meal or go to an unhealthy restaurant, because I just didn’t have time in the moment, or from having to eat something packaged and processed. Meal prep—-when you can put aside a bit of time—-is the answer for busy individuals. It enables you to have food—fast—when you need it, rather than resorting to fast food or take out. Meal prep lets YOU be the one in control of your time. You get to do it when it works well for you rather than when you need food right away.
I often make these pumpkin overnight oats in the evening while I’m cleaning up from dinner. Or, I make these gingerbread overnight oats or even overnight oatmeal parfaits. But I also set aside time on Sunday to think through my week and meal prep for those days I know will be super busy. Often Sunday meal prep is about making lunches and dinners go more smoothly, but I try not to forget breakfast because the morning is one of the most hectic times of the day as everyone tries to get out of the house on time.
Pumpkin overnight oats are a great way to begin your day. Complex and healthy carbs that are full of fiber and slow release energy all morning, mixed with healthy fats and protein from the addition of seeds and nuts assures that you have the energy—-both physically and mentally to power through your day. My check list to get the day off to a great start: adequate amounts of protein, healthy fats and fiber without any refined sugar and modest amounts of natural sugar. Making this yourself also means that YOU are the one in control of how much maple syrup (even natural sugar is still sugar) to include.
One of the great things about this recipe for pumpkin overnight oats is that you can make a big bowl of it and let everyone serve themselves in the morning, OR you can portion it out into “to go” vessels ahead of time for a grab and go option. I use small mason jars and divvy it up before putting in the fridge for the night. Honestly, don’t let lack of time in the morning stop you from providing yourself with a nutritious start to the day. If oatmeal isn’t your thing, then make some blueberry crumble bars, a healthy banana bread, chocolate chia pudding, or maybe you’d prefer a pumpkin loaf—-which can all be made in advance, or whip up a green smoothie.
Most of the time I am an advocate for slowing down and enjoying your meal with some quiet time for digestion and reflection from the fast-moving lives we all lead. In fact it’s the perfect time to take stock of where you’re at and brainstorm parts of your life that it may be time to let go of. However, life doesn’t always stop for us and I love the grab and go option of these pumpkin overnight oats. I have been known to take this on the road in the morning, or mid-day, or the afternoon when that’s my only option. These overnight oats are so nutrient dense and so tasty, they are perfect any time of day.
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup**
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 Tablespoon hemp seeds
- 1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- Pinch sea salt
- 1 medium apple, small diced (about 1 ½ cups)
- In a large bowl, combine milk, pumpkin, maple syrup and vanilla.
- Stir in dry ingredients and spices and mix until well incorporated.
- Add apple and mix well.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 3 hours.
- Alternately, fill “to go” jars and then refrigerate until ready to eat.
- Stir before serving and add toppings.
Golden raisins, chopped pecans, raw cacao nibs, additional sprinkle of cinnamon, shredded coconut, unsweetened and unsulfured dried fruit.
Sweetener: ** Use what you need for it to taste good TO YOU. If you used a flavored milk that was already sweetened, you may not need to add any maple syrup. If you’re trying to cut back on added sugar, start with 1 teaspoon maple syrup and taste before you put it in the fridge for the night.
Amount Per Serving Calories 257Total Fat 8gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 0mgSodium 53mgCarbohydrates 41gFiber 10gSugar 12gProtein 8g