Until recently, it had been a while since I’d made overnight oats. Last week, though, New York City gave me the perfect invitation to make them. There was a hint of fall in the air, but temperatures reached the 80’s and 90’s for a couple days straight. Stovetop oats, warm drinks, baking projects, and the other autumnal goodies I’ve been enjoying suddenly lost their appeal.
The thing about pumpkin, though, is that it’s pretty delicious cold, just as it is warm (something that was proven to me the first time I had pumpkin soft serve). With that in mind, I thought that these vanilla spice pumpkin overnight oats would be a perfect way to enjoy the goodness of morning oats without the stovetop.
These aren’t your average overnight oats. They’re made extra nutrient-dense with the addition of Abbott’s new Ensure® Plant-Based Protein shake.
Many of us, and especially my fellow dietitians, know the Ensure name because the brand’s supplements are used in clinical settings. I became very familiar with them during my internship year!
I’m so glad that Ensure is now introducing a ready-to-drink protein shake for vegans (as well as those who are lactose-free, or simply interested in seeking out plant-based foods). The shake is 100% plant based as well as gluten-free, has non-GMO ingredients, and it’s free of artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors. The protein it uses is a blend of fava bean and pea, and it also includes vitamins and minerals for nutrition support. It’s a perfect snack or boost for busy folks, no matter the circumstances: students, professionals and frequent travelers, busy parents, and more.
The shake comes in tasty chocolate and vanilla flavors. It’s easy enough to drink as it is, or to pour it over ice: part of what makes it so convenient is that you don’t have to mix it with anything! I tasted stevia and pea protein—ingredients I’m not used to having—in both flavors, but I enjoyed the shakes, especially the vanilla, and I was happily surprised at how smooth the texture was.
Aside from drinking the shakes as they are, you can use them to enhance the nutrition of drinks, smoothies, chia puddings, or overnight oats, and that’s the possibility that really spoke to me. When I was an exhausted post-bacc student, I often mixed a scoop of protein powder into overnight oats for extra nourishment. As it turns out, using a liquid is much more convenient and better-tasting.
I whisked together the vanilla flavor with pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree, making a perfect creamy base for the oats. Then I poured it over rolled oats, chia seeds, and chopped, pitted medjool dates. The shake is lightly sweetened and has some stevia and monk fruit extract to keep the sugar moderate, so the oats don’t need any additional sweetener, but I love the caramel flavor of the dates here, not to mention how they melt into the oats once they’ve sat for a little while.
You can prep these overnight oats the evening before you need them if you need them to work on-the-go. You can also prep them when you wake up if you’re an early rise who likes to wait a little while before breakfast; so long as they have an hour to thicken up, they’ll be ready to eat. And if it’s not an unseasonable 90 degrees where you are, you can also heat the oats up before serving 🙂
The recipe makes two breakfast servings (each with nearly 20 grams protein), or three-ish snack servings.
As a plant-based nutrition professional, I get asked about protein about as often as you’d expect. I’m always quick to note that most Americans consume an excess of protein, and that protein deficiency is very unlikely within a calorically adequate diet, under normal circumstances.
That said, I do think it’s possible to consume insufficient protein for one’s own needs, and those needs vary with circumstance: illness and wound healing make needs higher. Protein is one of many nutrients that’s needed in greater amounts during pregnancy, and older folks need a little extra, too, because of the muscle loss associated with aging. I’ve also worked with many clients who simply feel better and have better immune function when they get more protein; it’s not a question of deficiency so much as optimization.
For all of these reasons, I welcome products that make it easy for plant-based eaters to meet protein needs easily. The more convenient, the better, because it’s not always easy to find snacks that are both high in protein and easy to transport! I’m glad that the Ensure Plant-Based Protein shake exists as a new option for those who need it. You can read more about it here, if you’re curious, and you can try it for yourself on Amazon. Use the promo code 30Gena at checkout if you’d like to sample it at a 30% discount.
In the meantime, here’s the overnight oat recipe!
I’m wishing you all a great remainder of this week—temperatures are back to normal for October, now, and I’m continuing to savor fall. See you for weekend reading.
This post is sponsored by Abbott. All opinions are my own, and I’m glad to welcome a new source of on-the-go vegan nutrition. Thanks for your support!
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I’ve worked in health care for my entire career and in terms of supplements the one question I’ve been asked most frequently is “What can I use in place of Ensure?” Seems that most people I’ve spoken with (and me too btw) find Ensure unpalatable. Any suggestions on how to up the nutrition wi5out using Ensure?
Good question! I think if liquid supplements are needed—for ease, poor appetite, etc.—then blended soups with silken tofu are a gentle and good option. Fruit smoothies with nut butters or silken tofu and/or oats can also work. Of course this presumes use of a blender, which is good for when patients are discharged but doesn’t really work for clinical settings. I’m afraid I don’t have brilliant ideas for those. There are sweets and puddings, which can be helpful for increasing calories and pleasure, but not necessarily helpful for nutrient-density. Bars can be helpful for those who enjoy them, as they’re also concentrated in terms of volume and many are nutritious. I hope that’s a little helpful.
I’ve never tried overnight oats so this will be my first time. Do you think replacing the pumpkin pie spice with cinnamon and cloves would work?
Definitely! Even just a pinch of cinnamon would work well.
Thanks Gena–positive development on Ensure’s part! And the oats look delicious! xo