Well, my friends, it’s officially carrot cake season. I’ve been seeing carrot cakes all over the inter-webs, and wanted to share with you my favorite way to get some carrot cake goodness in your life. I’ve been really into overnight oats lately, and this recipe is one of my favorites. In case you haven’t jumped on board yet, overnight oats are simply oats mixed with milk/ yogurt/ other fixings that you prepare and put in the fridge overnight to let the oats soften. They’re meant to be eaten cold, and are wonderfully addicting, not to mention a super easy way to have breakfast waiting for you when you wake up. I tend to prep a couple to grab throughout the week, and I try to mix up the recipes I make from week to week so I don’t get bored, but I’ll be honest, this recipe has stayed in my rotation every single week recently. What can I say? I have a thing for veggies in my oats.
Ready to nerd out? I have a spreadsheet on my computer that organizes about 12 different Overnight Oat recipes so that I can easily pick out which recipes I want to make for that week and make sure I have the necessary ingredients on hand. It’s basically breakfast prep heaven, and one of my favorite parts of making my weekly grocery list is to look through this spreadsheet first and pick out my recipes. If there’s such a thing as a cooking nerd, I 100% accept that title. Come hang out with me and I’ll show you how much fun meal prepping can be. 🙂
There are several recipes in my trusty spreadsheet that I tend to come back to over and over again. One is a blueberry muffin version (similar to this smoothie), another is strawberries & yogurt, but so far my favorite is by far this “carrot cake” version. Now, I will admit it doesn’t really taste like cake. While I fully support National Pie-for-Breakfast Day (the day after Thanksgiving, for those not in the know), I try not to eat dessert for breakfast as a regular habit. What I love about these oats, though, is they have all your favorite, familiar spices from carrot cake, plus subtle sweetness from the carrots and maple syrup and great texture from raisins and pecans. All in all it makes for a super satisfying breakfast, and one that makes you feel far more virtuous than downing cake for breakfast.
While you’d probably find several dozen slightly different recipes for this same dish if you searched, I based my recipe off the one from FitFoodieFinds, and made a few minor changes to make life easier as you’re prepping individual servings. First things first, it is not required, but highly recommended, that you eat your overnight oats from a mason jar. It will make you feel superbly trendy, and also is highly portable if you’re a breakfast at work/ school/ on-the-go type of person. I’m providing the recipe for 1 serving, but definitely recommend making at least 2 servings so you have a couple prepped ahead of time. Each jar should last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. After consulting my trusty meal-prep excel file, I usually put together 4 jars of oats on Sunday evening and eat them for breakfast Monday-Thursday. On Fridays, I like to flex my spontaneity skills and make whatever I’m feeling that morning. Usually it’s a smoothie or yogurt with granola. Fridays are wild, I tell you, wild.
Man, I really hope sarcasm comes through on the internet.
When prepping, I add my ingredients directly to each jar so that I don’t have to bother with dirtying other mixing bowls. I don’t find it makes a difference whether you mix together dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, so why not make things as simple as possible, and plop everything in the same container, right? Then, you just have to shake or stir it all up so that everything is nicely melded together before the overnight fridge resting takes place. This recipe does take a little more prep than others because you do need to grate your carrots first, but it’s worth it. I like to use the smallest holes on my box grater and use regular (not baby) carrots for optimal flavor and the easiest grating experience. Don’t worry about measuring the amount of carrot. Each serving of oats has about 1/2 of a medium whole carrot, so just grate up a whole carrot, and divide it between two jars. Voilà. No extra measuring cups dirtied. (It’s worth noting that while I’m usually all about a few shortcuts, pre-shredded carrots would not do well in this situation. They tend to be drier and not as soft, which you need for this recipe.)
To soften the oats, you’ll need some sort of milk. I usually choose unsweetened vanilla almond milk, but regular milk would work just fine if that’s what you have on hand. Bonus: since the raisins will sit in the oats overnight, they tend to soak up a bit of the milk, and become wonderfully plump and juicy (<- okay, that sounds kinda weird, but it’s delicious, I swear). Pineapple would be a fantastic addition here (or replacement for the aforementioned plump raisins if that freaks you out too much), as would coconut flakes, but I tend to top mine with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a few crushed pecans for some extra crunch factor. You can either dump everything out into a bowl (and even pop it in the microwave if you’re not feeling the cold oats vibe), or go ahead and eat it right out of the jar. I always eat it straight from the jar.
My final secret is that I like to add just a little bit of protein powder to my oats, as I find it helps tide me over until lunchtime better. I use a vanilla flavored protein powder, and add about 1/2 scoop (which in real life, measures approximately 2 tablespoons). It’s certainly not necessary, but if you have some you keep on hand, feel free to throw some in. I wouldn’t add much more than 1/2 to 1 scoop, as it tends to alter the texture and overwhelm the flavor of the oats beyond that.
Carrot Cake Overnight Oats
Time: 10 minutes prep; plus overnight resting time
Yield: 1 serving
Adapted from: Carrot Cake Overnight Oats
1/2 cup rolled oats (you can also use instant/ quick cooking oats, but do not use steel cut)
1/2 scoop (~2 T) protein powder (optional, I use a vanilla flavored powder, and don’t personally like the texture with more than 1/2 scoop included, but feel free to experiment)
1/2 medium whole carrot, grated (if you must measure, this comes out to a heaping 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon raisins
1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
1/2 cup milk of choice (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)*
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Greek yogurt, chopped pecans, or coconut flakes, optional for topping
In a mason jar or container with lid, combine all ingredients through spices (everything except toppings) and stir or shake to combine. Place in the refrigerator overnight, or up to 3 days. In the morning, top with a dollop of Greek yogurt, chopped pecans, or coconut flakes and enjoy!
*Note, I like my oats to be thick; 1/2 cup allows just enough liquid for the oats to soften without much leftover liquid. If you prefer, feel free to add a bit more milk, either when prepping or before you eat them in the morning.