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Because this is a make-ahead recipe, overnight oats make it easier to rise and shine by taking some stress out of the morning rush. That benefit continues because they keep up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Here’s how you make overnight oats while you sleep

• Layer food in Mason jar.

• Place in fridge.

• Wake up.

• Grab spoon.

More specifically, start with grains on the bottom so the milk and yogurt soften the grain. Mix and match from each section. To keep portions in check, I use a pint-size jar and half-pints for kids.

1. 1/3 cup raw whole grains: rolled oats, bulgur, steel-cut oats.

2. Pinch to 1/4 teaspoon spice: ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, pepper.

3. 1-2 tablespoons nuts or seeds: quinoa, almond butter, peanut butter, hemp seeds, flax meal, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.

4. 1/3 cup yogurt. Mix plain with flavored to keep sugar levels reasonable. If you don’t want yogurt, replace with more milk.

5. 1/3 cup milk.

6. 1-3 teaspoons flavor: honey, cocoa powder, instant coffee, maple syrup, jam, apple butter, orange juice, chai, crystallized ginger, coconut, orange zest.

7. 1/2 -1 cup fruit: strawberries, mango, peaches, blueberries, bananas, pumpkin, cranberries, or cherries (fresh, frozen canned, dried, they all work).  Vegetable ideas are shredded carrots or chopped spinach.

8. Save crunchy toppings for last minute toppers. Crumbled graham crackers, granola or toasted nuts or coconut.

Registered dietitian Judy Barbe specializes in realistic food solutions. She is author of Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest: Simple Solutions for Fresh Food & Well-Being. Visit her website www.LiveBest.info.

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