Introducing: the real reason why I workout – I’m pretty sure it’s the thought of this beautiful bowl that keeps me going in those early morning HIIT workouts. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen this breakfast on repeat recently. Since going back to school, my free time has rapidly dwindled and I have had to edit my workout regime a bit. I now focus more on shorter, more intense exercise (HIIT) as it’s easier to fit into a busy lifestyle and has many proven benefits (see here). I also include a mixture of cardio (including both HIIT and running), strength-based sessions using weights, and yoga, which I find provides much-needed relief for my muscles and my mind.
With early starts thanks to school, this breakfast is a real time-saver. I make it the night before so that I have time to workout first thing before I start getting ready for school, and this recipe means I’m not dashing around as frantically in the morning! It also offers a great balance of proteins and carbs, making it an ideal post-workout choice.
Those of you who have been following me on Instagram will know that “zoats” have been a frequent breakfast of mine for quite some time now. For those of you who don’t know, “zoats” are “zucchini-oats”. It’s an absolutely brilliant way of getting extra veggies into your diet, it massively increases the volume of your porridge without adding many calories, making it more satisfying, and it also means that you use fewer oats, so your porridge will be lower in carbohydrates. I promise that you can’t taste the zucchini/courgette; it simply adds a bit of texture, which isn’t unpleasant at all. As zoats are to porridge, this version is just a lighter alternative to regular overnight oats, as well as being more nutritious. Another health bonus is that sprouting grains (by soaking them) also makes their nutrients more readily available and easier to digest.
However I would not recommend eating these uncooked as that would probably be quite unpleasant! The cooking process is what causes the ingredients to come together and thicken – without this you’ll just get a pool of almond milk with oats and courgette pieces floating in it (don’t be put off, the finished recipe is good, I promise!) Besides, it’s always much nicer having a hot, warming breakfast on darker, wintery mornings.
I’ve also included a slightly more indulgent variation for when you feel like a treat for breakfast – Chocolate Overnight Zoats. This variation is included in the ingredients list, so just add these ingredients in and follow the recipe as normal.
All you have to do is make the zoats the night before, pop them in the fridge, then heat them up for a few minutes in the morning, chuck on the toppings and they’re ready to go.
Note: I’ve linked my favourite brands for the ingredients that I’ve mentioned below.
30g porridge oats
1 small courgette, grated (about 100g)
1tsp ground cinnamon
150ml almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
150ml filtered water
1 scoop protein powder (I love The Organic Protein Company’s unsweetened whey powder – whey has the highest percentage protein content compared to alternatives, and this one gives the zoats a nice creamy consistency and has nothing nasty added to it. Unfortunately it’s pretty expensive, but it is my favourite. If you’re dairy-free, hemp, pea or brown rice protein are good alternatives)
For the chocolate variation:
- Swap (or reduce) the ground cinnamon for 1tbsp raw cacao powder and 1tsp raw honey. Alternatively, if you prefer, you can replace the protein powder with a chocolate-flavoured variety.
1 large handful mixed berries (I add these near the end so that they cook and flavour the zoats slightly)
15g nut butter (Pip & Nut peanut butter is the winner in my eyes)
Choc shot (I love a cheeky drizzle of the Orange Spice Choc Shot – it’s an amazing chocolate sauce sweetened with fruit extracts only).
1.) Add the oats, grated courgette, almond milk, water and cinnamon to a bowl and mix together. Stir in the protein powder thoroughly to avoid clumps. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight.
2.) In the morning, give the zoats a quick stir, then pour them into a saucepan. Bring them to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes until the courgette has cooked down and the mixture has thickened a bit to become creamy and slightly gloopy (sounds weird but go with it!)
3.) A few minutes before it’s ready, stir in the berries, if using, to cook them slightly. Pour the zoats into a bowl and top with your choice of toppings. (Try not to get carried away with the Choc Shot/nut butter if you’re using them – it’s quite hard not to).