I can’t believe we are already this far into April. How did that happen? I hear myself say it again and again, I sound like a broken record. But time…where does it go? Well, you know what they say about time flyin’ and havin’ fun. And since I seem to be starting out this fine April day with broken records and flying time, I may as well toss in another classic cliché while I’m at it – the mason jar. It’s a little overdone in the foodie realm, I get that. But I do love my jars. You can store just about anything in a mason jar. Grains and beans, buttons or ribbons. Nuts and bolts, cotton balls or caterpillars. Salads, smoothies, water or cocktails. But my favorite of late, has to be breakfast. Breakfast in a jar.
I have never been a breakfast girl, though my mama never failed to leave a big pot of hot oatmeal on the stovetop to fuel our days at school or play. I have always been a morning girl, but never one for breakfast. Well, as I grow and mature, I am beginning to see the wisdom in some of those old clichés, like that one about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. So, lately I have been making an honest effort to fuel my body with something nutritious before I go running into my day. Because (as I’m sure it is true for you, too) once the day begins, it doesn’t stop for anything. Certainly not breakfast.
That being said, I have no interest in food in the early a.m. hours. That quiet morning time is exclusively reserved for the coffee mug. Homework and journals, blogs and photos, sunrises and cloudscapes…these things I enjoy peacefully, leisurely, with my favorite cup and my favorite brew while the rest of the world continues to sleep.
Then it is suddenly time for work and my pace changes considerably as I run about in a not-so-organized way, grabbing this, fetching that, throwing it all in the work bag, hoping nothing spills, leaks or scatters about. Lately, I have been trying to be sure to include some sort of healthy breakfast in my frantic morning swoops. And this is where, I have found, a jar of breakfast comes in very handy.
It all started one morning with an impromptu parfait that I threw together as a means of using up some coconut milk yogurt and berries that were sitting in the fridge, begging not to be wasted. I arranged the fresh blueberries, raspberries, coconut yogurt and some homemade granola in lovely layers in a mason jar (of course). I tossed it in my bag and headed to work. And just before my day went into full-swing, I opened up my little jar and was delighted to find this pretty parfait smiling back at me!
How could you not take the time to grab a spoon and indulge in a healthy breakfast such as this! It’s picture perfect, light, nutritious and completely satisfying. Not to mention it travels well.
This got me thinking about other fun breakfast foods I might be able to prepare in a jar. My favorite Superberry Chia Cereal (or pudding, if you prefer) is a natural fit for this grab-your-jar-and-go lifestyle. Those tiny little chia seeds are packed with nutrients. Mix them with any type of milk, set them in the fridge to gel and you have a simple base to play with. Toss in your favorite add-ins, fill up a jar, store it in the fridge and tomorrow’s breakfast will be ready and waiting for you as you are flying out the door.
I also discovered a small jar of chia pudding is a delicious and delightful addition to that sneak-away workday picnic. I was so enamored with this little jar of coconut mango chia pudding during a recent playground picnic, I couldn’t resist snapping some photos. Until a small voice suddenly directed me to stop taking pictures of my food and eat my lunch! Touché, wee one.
I was enjoying my traveling breakfast so much I decided to set out on an Overnight Oats adventure. I’ve read about this method of preparing oats for tomorrow’s breakfast on a number of food blogs, but never actually tried it. This is a great oatmeal option for those raw foodies out there, as it does not require cooking. I used Angela Liddon’s recipe as a base and made some tiny adjustments to suit my own tastes. (You can find several recipes for different flavors on her vegan food blog, Oh She Glows). Apparently, these oats will keep in the fridge for several days, so why not prepare a few to have on stand-by and play around with different flavor combinations.
First, I tripled the basic recipe (though I used a tad less milk to make mine a little thicker) and divided it up into three jars. Then, I chose three different flavors to play with: superberry, banana-walnut and chocolate-cherry.
For the sake of convenience, I mixed in my flavor ingredients before I put them in the fridge. Perhaps it works better to add them in the morning, jut before you enjoy your oats…I leave that up to you. The flavor possibilities are endless. How fun! I love versatile recipes that allow you to switch things up. They never get old. I added the following ingredients to my own overnight oats:
Chocolate-Cherry: 2 tablespoons dried cherries, 1 1/2 teaspoons cacao powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons raw cacao nibs
Superberry: 1 tablespoon acai powder, 2 tablespoons dried goji berries, a small handful of fresh blueberries and raspberries
Banana-Walnut: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 banana (sliced), a small handful of chopped walnuts
*These measurements were totally random, but they worked for me. You can easily add more or less of whatever makes you smile and delights your day…that’s the beauty of it, after all ;)
After mixing my add-ins and oatmeal base, I sealed them up and set them in the fridge for tomorrow’s traveling breakfast…and the next day’s…and the next. After an overnighter in the fridge, they were all dressed and ready to go. That’s all there is to it. A little forethought and a few minutes of time and you have yourself three days of healthy morning meals all packed up and ready for that mad morning grab.
And last, but certainly not least, on my list of convenient jar breakfasts is the smoothie. A classic, can never go wrong, always a welcome treat, make it anyway you like, super fuel breakfast. Sometimes, when I am in leisure mode and making myself a weekend smoothie, I like to double or triple the amount and stick a couple extra jars in the freezer for those busy weekday grabs. And you know how I love variety, so I also enjoy having a colorful array of smoothies available to choose from.
There are so many smoothie recipes out there to use for inspiration, there is no end to the possibilities. Among my list of favorites is the Orange and Green one, of course. This Blueberry Pomegranate guy is so refreshing, especially when the temperature starts to rise. I have taken a liking lately to this Goldenberry smoothie, though I prefer my own altered version of the recipe. And this Berries and Cream is a dreamy treat to enjoy in the midst of a busy day. (I can’t remember where the inspiration for this one originated, but I believe it was here.)
Berries and Cream Smoothie
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries
- 1 tablespoon maqui berry powder
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 cup almond milk (or your favorite nut milk)
- 1/2 cup coconut milk yogurt
- 1 cup ice cubes
- Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender. Add more ice or liquid to create a consistency to your own liking. If you like it creamier, add more yogurt. If you like it fruiter, add more berries. Make it your own.
- 1 frozen banana
- 1/c cup frozen mango pieces
- 1 orange, peeled
- 1/4 cup dried goldenberries
- 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon camu powder
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 cup ice cubes
- Sweetener to taste (stevia, maple syrup, agave or coconut palm sugar)
- Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender. If you do not have a high speed blender, you can soften the goldenberries by soaking them overnight making them a little easier to blend. You can add more or less liquid or ice to reach your preferred consistency.
It is important to note that the frozen smoothie does require a little forethought and planning. I have found that if I am grabbing a smoothie from the freezer at the last minute on my way out the door, it is most likely going to be fueling my afternoon rather than my morning. They require a bit of time to thaw, you see. So, if I am thinking ahead, I will try to set a smoothie out a few hours before my work day starts.
These are just a few ideas that lend themselves well to a grab-n-dash sort of lifestyle. I am certainly not done exploring, but I now have a few make-ahead morning meals that are nutritious and easy to eat on the go. Have fun with your food, try something new. Every day is a new adventure and it is important to be prepared. For I have found, that if you are prepared, there will always be time for breakfast.