Overnight Oats

Almost every other health/wellness/weight loss article in the history of the internet keeps emphasizing how important the first meal of the day is. I’ve been paying no heed to those article and have been skipping breakfast for years. Not good, I know, but I’ve always had valid (or so I say) excuses: first it was “I leave the house too early” (5am), then it became “I wake up too late and too close to lunch” (10am), and on weekends, it’s “my brothers ate all the bacon/longganisa/tapa/tocino.”

I’ve been trying to change my delinquent ways and have made an effort to have healthy breakfasts as much as I can. And that’s where overnight oats come in.

My health-freak friend J introduced them to me. The genius of it is that you’re making your breakfast while you sleep. Before hitting the sack, you soak some oats in milk and yogurt. In the morning, you have a hearty, healthy and delicious breakfast waiting for you.

Overnight Oats basic recipe (if you can even call it that)

1/3 cup rolled/old fashioned oats (not instant)
1/3 cup fresh milk
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (regular works, too)

  1. Mix all ingredients together
  2. Add any flavorings and toppings, if preferred. Dried fruit is good to include in the soak to rehydrate them, and to serve as a natural sweetener for the oats. To infuse the oats with their flavor, spices like cinnamon or nutmeg should be added prior to the soak as well.
  3. Cover and refrigerate
  4. Have a good night’s sleep

The other great thing about this is that sky’s the limit for your flavor options. You can pretty much add anything you fancy to the oats: fruits, nuts, jams, chocolate chips, peanut butter, whatever. So even if you are having oats everyday, you’re not necessarily stuck with the same breakfast seven days a week. Just make sure that you don’t negate the oats’ health benefits by going overboard with the toppings.

I like this method of making oats versus instant oats cooked in the microwave. With rolled oats, you get less of a mushy texture: it actually still feels like oats in your mouth. The yogurt and the milk also results in a creamier mixture, instead of the pasty mess of microwaved oats.

Below are some of my favorite flavor combinations for overnight oats:

  • Dried strawberries and blueberries, honey, cinnamon
  • Almond butter, almonds, pinch of brown sugar

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  • Mangoes, candied walnuts, pinch of brown sugar
  • Almond butter, bananas, maple syrup

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  • Peanut butter
  • Cookie butter, candied walnuts, cinnamon

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It’s a testament to how good these oats are (or to how pathetic my life is) that I actually look forward to breakfast in the morning if I made this the night before. I also feel better about my day knowing that I started it right with a healthy meal, instead of leaving for work with an empty stomach and attacking the first carb that I come across at the office. And, when it comes down to it, these oats are just delicious.

So really, there’s no excuse for me to be skipping breakfast anymore (except for maybe my yogurt going bad) when it’s this easy and this good. Especially when I can have those addictive candied walnuts with it.

You need to make this NOW

Ina Garten’s Herbed Baked Eggs.

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These are the best eggs I have ever had. And I say that without any exaggeration. I know it may seem a little self-serving to say that, since I made the dish myself, but really, all credit goes to the high priestess of easy, elegant food, Ina Garten. I owe Chrissy Teigen some thanks too, for coming up with the genius idea of adding BACON to the eggs. I’ve wanted to make these since I first read Chrissy’s blog post, but it took a while for me to find oven-proof ramekins that would be big enough to fit at least two eggs. I finally found them at Rustan’s two days ago and they were a steal at PHP 90 each.

I used dry rosemary and thyme as I couldn’t find fresh even after going to three stores (I swear, I always have to go to at least three stores to get everything I need for my weekend cooking) and pancetta instead of regular bacon. I also just eyeballed the parmesan, garlic and herb mixture. I was too lazy to measure figured, how could you possibly go wrong with that combination of flavors anyway? You probably can’t. And the smell that filled up our house while these babies were in the oven proves that.

I also served it with buttered toasted pan de sal:

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Garlic-Parmesan-Butter-Cream-Parsley-Thyme-Rosemary flavor party in my mouth. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. If I stare at this photo long enough, I’d probably drool all over my keyboard.

Eggy, herb-y, creamy heaven. Drooooooooooooool.

The best French toast I’ve ever had

This morning, a Sunday, I was up at 6am. I wake up at 4:30am every weekday, so you can imagine how I felt at having to wake up this early on a Sunday. A RAINY Sunday. Ugggggggh. But my father wanted to try out Breakfast at Antonio’s in Tagaytay and to avoid the Father’s Day crowd we assumed would be there, so we had an early call time. I had no right to protest, it was Father’s Day, after all, so I was up at 6am. On a Sunday. A RAINY Sunday.

But I probably would’ve woken up with a smile on my face (let’s face it, that’s never gonna happen) in less of a foul mood, if I knew that this was what awaited me at Breakfast at Antonio’s:

Breakfast at Antonio's French Toast: Rye bread dipped in vanilla cream, egg and cinnamon, topped with apple compote and whipped cream

First of all, I love breakfast fare. I could eat it even for dinner (Ina Garten did an episode of of Barefoot Contessa with a breakfast-for-dinner theme once, it made me want to offer myself up for adoption to her and Jeffrey). And one of my favorites of all breakfast food is French Toast. I will almost always order it, even if a restaurant is more knows for its pancakes or its waffles. And Breakfast at Antonio’s is the best version of it that I’ve had by a mile.

Where to begin? The use of rye bread, which is usually denser than a wheat-based bread, is quite ingenious, as it predictably holds up better than its wheatier cousins. Biting into the bread, you know that it’s soaked through with the custard, but is not soggy or mushy at all, a difficult balance to find with regular white bread.

The custard is definitely not your regular egg-milk-cinnamon mix as well. There’s definitely less egg and more dairy, the creamier taste suggests that they used cream (duh), not milk, or a mixture of both. Another thing there’s a lot more of is cinnamon. In most French toasts, there’s usually just the tiniest hint of the spice. In this version, they’re not bothering with subtle hints, the cinnamon makes itself known. That’s not to say that it was the dominant flavor in the mix, of course not. Think more apple pie level of cinnamon-ness than Cinnabon bun.

And speaking of apples, the apple compote is a delightful counterpoint against the creamy velvet of the custard and bread. While the syrup is sweet, the apple chunks themselves are tart and they do a wonderful job of balancing out the richness of the bread and the whipped cream.

Which brings me to my complaint about this dish. There wasn’t enough whipped cream. I had to ask for extra.

Other than that minor complaint (which probably shouldn’t count, as I would’ve asked for extra whipped cream anyway), I would say that Breakast at Antonio’s French Toast made the 6am wake-up call well worth it. I would very willingly wake up at 6am for it again. OK, maybe not, it’s not Father’s Day every day. So 7am… Ummm. 8am. But 9am if it’s raining.