Chia & Oat Breakfast Jars

If left to my own circadian devices, I would sleep every morning until 7am–maybe a little later if it is cold and dark outside, or earlier when it is summer and the sun comes screaming through your windows–but 7am is generally the time my body prefers to wake up.

This was all well and good when I used to live by myself and didn’t have to be at work until 9am.  I had no pets, my commute to work was only 10 minutes, and I almost always had the time to come home and make myself lunch.  Back then, my free time in the morning stretched out to nearly two hours. I had time to read every section of the newspaper (well, except for the sports, blegh!), eat a leisurely breakfast, have a second cup of tea, water my garden, read a book, get ready for work, and maybe even think about what I was going to have for dinner that night.

Nowadays, however, my commute is much longer and I have to be at work at 8.  I don’t have time to go home for lunch, and the water at work is undrinkable (Castle Hayne aquifer, holla!).  I leave for work as though I’m preparing for battle; the bag I bring weighs about 12 pounds (I try to eat and drink out of glass containers) and is laden with coffee, breakfast, water, lunch, utensils, herbal tea, and sometimes maybe even a snack. (Update: I wrote this last part over 2 months ago; I have since found and started a new job, where the water does not come directly from the Castle Hayne aquifer. But I do, however, still bring my own water to work because we have a really fancy filter at home).

Some people have a morning routine; I have a morning ordeal.  The ordeal involves preparing and packing all of the above; taking the dog out; feeding the dog; making a lunch for Andy (if I am feeling charitable and loving); and remembering whether anything needs to be taken out of the freezer or picked up from the store for dinner.  Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I also have time to read a paragraph from whatever open magazine happens to be sitting on the kitchen table.

Obviously, the more of this I can do the night before, the less panic will ensue in the morning, and the better my chances are of getting to work on time.

Which is why I’m a newly-converted devotee of overnight oats.

I used to make smoothies for breakfast, but this involved way too much in-the-moment prepwork (clawing through the freezer for fruit; peeling a banana; chopping an apple; scooping out protein powder; tending to the blender while it blends and fixing it when the frozen fruit seizes up into one giant mass; pouring the smoothies and screwing lids on; and then cleaning the blender) and usually left me freaking out.

Now, I prep a whole week’s worth of breakfast in about 5 minutes on Sunday, and all I have to do in the morning is grab a jar from the fridge and remember to pack a spoon.  Blammo! Breakfast in a jar.

You can jazz these up however you’d like to, and experiment with different fruits and spices, and use whatever kind of milk you have on hand (or water if you prefer).  This summer I did a peaches-and-cream version and a wild blueberry one, and I bet an apple-walnut-and cinnamon version would be delicious, too.

You can eat these straight from the fridge, or if you prefer a hot breakfast, pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes and put a freaker on the jar to keep from burning your hand.

Chia & Oat Overnight Breakfast Jars (recipe amount is per jar)
~1/4 c. rolled oats
1 scant Tablespoon chia seeds (optional; these add a lot of bulk after soaking so if not using, double the amount of oats)
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed (optional)
~2/3 c. milk of your choice (I prefer coconut milk or almond/coconut blend)
dash of salt
~1/2 c. fruit, cut into bite-sized chunks if needed
a pinch or two of spice (optional) (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, vanilla, cocoa, etc.)
sweetener of your choice, if desired (I usually don’t sweeten mine, but good options might be honey, maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, stevia, etc.)
Nuts, if desired (walnuts, pecans, slivered almonds, etc.)
In a pint mason jar, add the oats, chia seeds, salt, and ground flax, if using.  Give the jar a little shake or stir to distribute the ingredients a bit (otherwise your chia and flax may clump together).

Add the milk to the oats/chia, adding enough to generously cover the dry ingredients (if using chia seeds, err on the side of adding more liquid than you think–cover everything by about an inch).  Top with fruit, sweetener, and spices if using.  Screw on a lid and keep in the refrigerator until needed.

If you are planning to microwave these, you may want to wait until after microwaving to add your fruit (depending on what kind of fruit you’re using); berries tend to get obliterated after that long in the microwave, but diced apples/pears will hold up better.

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