Gut Experts LOVE This Easy, Summer-Ready Breakfast
There's one summer breakfast that rises above the rest according to gut health experts, and that's overnight oats made from a blend of oats and chia seeds. "Chia seeds are rich in fiber and help clean out your digestive tract," explains Robyn Youkilis, gut health expert and author of Go With Your Gut. "The oats are rich in prebiotic fiber, which feed your good gut bacteria." You combine all of the ingredients and stick it in the fridge, creating a cooling breakfast that's perfect for hot summer days.
Swirling the chia seeds into the liquid and letting them soak overnight (instead of, say, sprinkling them dry on your cereal) is also key to the gut-healing benefits. It all comes down to a substance called mucilage, which is created when soaking the chia seeds in water and evidenced by a gelatinous coating that forms over the seed. Mucilage has a number of health benefits (including fighting inflammation!), but in terms of gut health and digestion, it's incredibly rich in soluble fiber, which helps stabilize blood sugar, create a healthy microbiome, and more. "It also adds bulk to the 'end result' of your digestive process," says Carlene Thomas, a registered dietitian (read: more comfortable, regular bathroom visits).
Beyond that, chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. "These help fight inflammation and fuel your brain to produce more happy hormones like serotonin," says Youkilis. They also contain a fair amount of protein (4.7 grams per ounce), which, combined with the healthy fat and fiber, increase satiety and turn off hunger hormones, ensuring you'll stay full until lunch.
Overnight oats are also endlessly customizable and super easy to make. You'll need about ½ cup of a creamy liquid of your choice (you can use any type of milk, or even kefir!), 1 tablespoon or so of sweetener (or to taste), a pinch of fine-grain sea salt, ½ cup of rolled oats (gluten-free if necessary), and 3 teaspoons of chia seeds.
On top of the base ratios, you can add whatever flavorings you'd like: vanilla extract and orange zest make a creamsicle vibe, while some cacao powder and sliced strawberries creates a chocolate-covered strawberry treat. You can add rose water, some crunchy pistachios, and use honey as your sweetener to channel baklava, or use pineapple juice and coconut milk as your liquid for a piña-colada-like trip to the tropics.
Best of all? You make the breakfast the night before, letting the mucilage activate overnight as you sleep, so you have a grab-and-go breakfast ready for you when you wake up. You can even make it in batches, so you'll have something prepped for every day of the week.
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