Mornings are a busy time for most people, and there’s nothing more hindering to making healthy meal choices than feeling rushed. While many people are still happy to grab a donut and coffee and call it breakfast, many more are realizing the benefits of fuelling properly in the morning, both for one’s physical and one’s psychological well-being. And the best way to do this consistently is to prepare. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but you’d be surprised by how much time a little meal prep saves throughout the week, and how much stress it reduces in the process.
You might be wondering why I don’t just make myself some instant oats, but if you’ve ever had oatmeal cooked properly on the stove, you’ll know it’s like asking why I don’t have a bag of cherry blasters when I’m craving fruit. That analogy might be on the extreme side, but you get what I’m saying. The texture is all wrong, the portion sizes too small, and don’t even get me started on those weird sugary flavourings. Even plain instant oats just fall flat when compared to their thickly cut, slow-cooked cousins.
These oatmeal cups are a total breakfast game-changer, and a freezer staple in my house. Every couple of weeks I put aside half an hour in the evening or on the weekend to prepare, and then I get to enjoy real oatmeal on any morning of the week, which feels super indulgent. The great thing about this recipe too is that you can customize it endlessly. Don’t like pumpkin? Ditch it! Allergic to nuts? Add seeds. Or change things up each time you make a batch and see where your creativity takes you. This version reflects what flavours and textures I’m currently digging, but I’m sure in a few weeks I’ll try something new, perhaps with some different seeds and dried fruits in the mix.
Did I mention there’s no sugar added to this recipe?
A note on preparation:
I take mine out of the freezer the night before, since I already know what mornings I’ll be heading to the gym and therefore more rushed than usual, but you could just as easily throw a couple of pucks into a ziplock bag and bring them to work with you. They’ll defrost a little on the way and you can then enjoy them whenever you’re ready for breakfast. Just warm up on a stove (or a microwave, though I don’t advocate its use) with a touch of water or milk, and then top with some nut butter (this one is PERFECT for this recipe) or sliced banana. At home I reheat them over the stove while I’m getting dressed for work.
2-3 cups make one serving.
Do yourself and your mornings a favour, and stock your freezer with these beauties!
Pumpkin Pecan Freezer Oatmeal Cups (makes about 20 cups, or 6-7 servings)
Inspired by The Kitchn’s Frozen Single-Serve Oatmeal with Almonds and Dried Cherries. Originally posted on my blog.
~ gluten free, vegan, no added sugar, soy free, nut free option ~
- 3 cups gluten free rolled oats
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- unsweetened shredded coconut (1/3 cup or so)
- a handful of pitted dates (around 8-10), quartered
- a handful of cacao nibs
- a handful of chopped pecans
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat on the stove, then add your oats. Stir them frequently for a few minutes, until they’ve just started to brown and have developed a nice, nutty aroma.
- Add your coconut milk, water, and pumpkin puree, and bring to a low boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10-12 minutes, or until just cooked. It’s okay if they’re slightly underdone because they will soften in the freezer and then again during the reheating process.
- Now add your sea salt, vanilla, and cinnamon, and stir well to combine. Let cool.
- Thoroughly grease two standard muffin tins with coconut oil. Once the oatmeal has cooled, spoon it into each cavity and fill just to the top.
- Now add your toppings, and press down slightly into the oatmeal so that they stick (and won’t come loose in the freezer).
- Place your muffin tins in the freezer overnight (or over the course of a day), and then remove from the freezer and let defrost for a few minutes – just long enough that you can pull the pucks out, but not so long that they become soft.
- Place the pucks in a freezer-proof ziplock bag or tupperware and store until ready to eat.