Food for Thought

An Oat-y Breakfast to Power Your Brain

Sun-Jung Yum, Editor-in-Chief

Eating a nutritious breakfast on the daily has been shown to boost your metabolism, improve brain power (we’re literally breaking our brain’s fast), and prevent mindless snacking throughout the day.

Yet, I’ve come across an upsettingly small number of people who regularly do so. People “aren’t hungry,” “don’t want to wake up early,” or “don’t know how to cook.”

I, myself, used to not be a breakfast person. I didn’t necessarily like breakfast food (my go-tos were leftovers or a bowl of Special K with Red Berries), but I also didn’t think it was important enough to wake up early to put together a meal.

It’s time to push aside this laziness. Today, I’m going to give you the simplest, five-minute breakfast I know: oatmeal.

But, fear not. It’s not the mushy oatmeal that your grandparents eat every morning. No, it’s oatmeal that will keep your energy up (whole grains balance your blood sugar), motivate you to not snooze your alarm (it just tastes really, really good), and make you feel like you’re treating your body well (each spoonful is nutrient-filled). It’s oatmeal that will make you never want to skip breakfast again.

A Quick Note: Most of the ingredients here are optional, so don’t worry if you don’t have them on hand. Replace them with whatever is in your kitchen!


The Oat Base

This special process is one that has saved my life for busier mornings, taking less than five minutes in the morning!



½-1 cup rolled or old-fashioned oats (not instant, trust me!)

1 tbsp chia, flax, or hemp seeds

1-2 cups water or milk

Splash of vanilla or almond extract

Pinch of salt

Spices (my favorite is pumpkin pie spice)



Before you go to bed the night before, mix together the dry ingredients in a small saucepan and then add your choice of liquid and the vanilla or almond (or really any other kind) extract. Mix it together and let the saucepan sit, covered, on the counter overnight.

In the morning, most of the liquid will have been absorbed. Heat the mixture on medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until the liquid is fully absorbed, mixing occasionally. Now, just throw it into a bowl!


The Toppings

Now, it’s time to get creative! This is where you can put your own twist on your oats to make it something more than the boring ol’ oats you wrinkle your nose at. The key, for me, is to have fruit (frozen works really well here, too!), healthy fats (this keeps you full), and a crunch-factor. Below, I’ve put together two different topping combos (add them in the morning!) that will appeal to different tastes—but don’t be afraid to try something new!

Feel free to add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup (especially if you’re new to the oatmeal scene), as well as a dollop of yogurt or a splash of milk to any of these recipes!


Sun-Jung Yum

Tart Blueberry ’n’ Lemon

½ banana, sliced

½ cup frozen blueberries, warmed for ~1 minute in the microwave to create a “compote”

Heaping spoonful of unsweetened nut butter

Zest from ½ lemon

Handful of unsweetened coconut flakes



Sweet & Salty Chocolate

Sun-Jung Yum

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, mixed into oats the night before

1 banana, sliced (pan-frying and “caramelizing” these while you heat up your oats is worth the effort)

Heaping spoonful of unsweetened nut butter

Pinch of coarse salt

Handful of cacao nibs

This piece also appears in our March 2019 print edition.