I am a morning person. An early riser who is on an achiever mode in the first few hours of her waking up.
The rested mind and body, exercise routine and having a planned to-do list for the day sounds like the perfect recipe to make each day its productive best.
I thought so too.
Until I realised the results I’d been receiving weren’t extraordinary in any way. Instead, by the time I sat down to analyse my progress. I’d be left shocked at how cranky, dissatisfied I felt despite toiling religiously at the times I knew I was at my best. The mornings.
Around a year ago, while discussing this problem with a dear friend, I received a startling query.
She asked me, “When do you have your breakfast and what do you eat?”
“I eat my breakfast after I’ve sent the kid to school. I usually fix myself a glass of milk or a sandwich that’s quick to prepare and fast to eat.”
“That’s it!” my friend exclaimed as if she’d just had a Eureka moment.
“What?” I was all confused wondering what was she getting at.
That’s when she went ahead to describe her findings at length.
“You wake up at 5 am every day?”
“What time do you eat your breakfast?
“That makes it F-O-U-R hours since you woke up on an empty stomach. Can you now see what I’m getting at?” my friend was confident I had by now got the point she was making.
Comprehension evades me just in time when I’m counting on it as the last straw of hope to prove that am not as big a cuckoo I sometimes act like.
To my defence, I was armed with my time-tested excuse. “But I don’t get time to prepare something for myself and eat in the chaos of school days.”
My friend wasn’t ready to be convinced by any of my excuses and after a discussion lasting another fifteen minutes, I was convinced that I must put to practice what I’d grown up learning.
Eat your breakfast within the first hour (if not within 30 minutes, which is the best strategy) of waking up to have an energetic start to your day.
While I could now clearly see the logic behind this advice, the biggest hurdle, making time to eat the breakfast and trying to keep it as healthy as possible (given the alarm bells in my recent medical tests) was quite an ask.
In the days that followed, I test tried a number of breakfast options (being constantly pushed by my friend).
Starting with keeping my breakfast in line with what I packed in Pari’s lunchbox to trying to go on an experimental spree.
The early results were favourable enough to keep me motivated to stick to my bestie’s advice.
My current challenge was, I wanted to finalise on a breakfast recipe that was healthy, filling (kept me feeling fuller for longer), had an almost zero prep time but was tasty, fresh, warm and quick to eat.
Finally, I zeroed in on oats.
Initially, I was amazed at why I had not thought about them any sooner because of the fact that oats in breakfast had been my breakfast of choice for years when I was working full time. Though at that time I was hooked on to the instant oats, this time I was hoping to cut off the added flavours by stirring up a simple recipe that suited my palate.
A quick Google search landed me with tons of oats recipes. While weighing in on how technique sensitive or time consuming they were, I finally have two staple recipes that work like a charm. Not only for me but for my whole family.
Before I share the two super simple recipes, that I have now stuck to for over 14 months, let me share with you a little secret.
All the while I was experimenting with the various recipes Google showed me, my parents (especially mom) got really curious why was I hell-bent on keeping oats as the core ingredient. My father, who is a healthcare professional already knew the answer, but he wanted mom to find things out on her own.
This is because my mom is NEVER too happy if you recommend a recipe pointing out its “Good for Diabetic patients” potential.
If you’re not already aware, my mom has a number of chronic illnesses of which hypertension and diabetes (though under control with medications) have been a constant cause of our worry.
Anyway, I digress.
The following are the two recipes (one sweet and one savoury) that have finally been approved by my mom’s strict-for-good-taste taste buds.
And may I add, eating them regularly (around 28 to 30 days a month) have gifted us all with amazing results in our regular health checks.
With these sumptuous, healthy breakfast recipes, that I make time to eat early on, my mornings have become more productive, calmer and I have a day free of cravings, feeling happier and content than before.
Instant Almond Cinnamon Oatmeal:
Difficulty Level: Easy
Cooking Time: 2 to 3 minutes
- Oats: 1 cup (I use Quaker Oats)
- Water: 1 cup
- Milk/ Almond Milk: as per your liking
- Ground Cinnamon: 1/2 Tsp
- Honey: to drizzle
- Soaked Almonds: 5 to 10 as per your liking
- Nuts or Fruits of choice
- In a microwave-safe cereal bowl add the oats (I have used rolled oats to make this recipe but you can use steel cut oats as well) and enough water to cover them well.
- On full power microwave this mix for a minute.
- Take the bowl out of the microwave, gently stir to mix well. Add little more water (enough to allow the oats to cook through) and ground cinnamon powder. Stir well and microwave for another minute.
- Once done, remove the bowl from the microwave to test doneness. The oatmeal should be soft and mushy like porridge. If you’d like it mushier, add milk/ water to your liking and microwave for another 30 to 40 seconds.
- Once done, garnish it with peeled and chopped almonds (you can use the nuts or fruits of your choice) add milk (again the type and quantity is customizable) and serve drizzled with honey.
Tip: In the Mango season I add pureed mango or sometimes small cubes of the fruit for the added flavour and sweetness. Bananas and Apples also make great accompaniments with oatmeal.
Keeping a check on your portion size is the key to reaping long-term health benefits from this recipe.
Healthy Vegetable Oats Porridge:
Difficulty Level: Easy
Cooking Time: 8 to 9 minutes
- Oats: 1 cup
- A mix of cubes of carrots, peas and beans: 1/2 cup
- Curry Leaves: 1 sprig
- Onion: 1 medium
- Tomatoes: 1 cup (finely chopped)
- Mustard seeds: 1 Tsp
- Red Chili Powder: 1/2 Tsp
- Turmeric Powder: 1/2 Tsp
- Vegetable Oil: 1 tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Heat vegetable oil in a pressure cooker.
- Once the oil is hot, add curry leaves, mustard seeds and let them splutter for a few seconds.
- Add onion and fry until onion turns translucent.
- Add oats, carrots, beans and peas along with 3 cups of water, salt, red chilli powder (optional), turmeric powder and tomatoes.
- Pressure cook the porridge until done. (Approximately 1 whistle on high heat. Then simmer the heat and cook for 2 whistles on low heat).
- Remove the pressure cooker from heat and let the pressure release.
- Serve the porridge with yoghurt or home-set curd as an accompaniment.
Tip: The vegetables used can be modified as per personal liking. I cut and store vegetables in the fridge to save time in the morning.
If you do not like the addition of mustard seeds and curry leaves you can also replace it with a dash of fresh ginger, added along with the chopped onion.
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