Protein Oatmeal v2.0: Mush Reloaded

Finally explaining, in one place, all the ways I get 35-40g of protein in for breakfast.

As of earlier this week, we at She's A Beast LLC crossed 1,000 paid subscribers. Displays of emotion are not my thing but

WOOOOOOOOOOO

Going indie is a nail-biting process. I feel naked out here. So I'm relieved, surprised, humbled, AND flattered to receive so much support, not just from my subscribers but everyone on the free list. I want to bring you all the best newsletter that I can, and you all are helping me do that. I have so many plans that I'm excited about, and while the past month has been crazy for a lot of reasons I can't talk about, seeing your enthusiasm for this little operation has helped so much.

So as a thank you, at the top here I'm going to finally reveal the theory and practice of the much-requested recipe for my breakfast overnight oats (a.k.a Swoalts v2.0 a.k.a "mush").

I've been eating overnight oats probably 95% of my mornings for, embarrassingly, close to a decade at this point, so I have not only refined the process a lot but also have a lot of ideas as to how the recipe can be modified to fit different tastes or dietary needs. But this is not the aesthetic overnight oats of your Pinterest; it's ever so much closer to a military ration. This is a perfect food for people who neither want to think very much about what to have for breakfast, nor have to mount a lot of effort in the morning. You scoop some gloop in a bowl, put fruit or something on it, the end. I even consider myself a morning person, and anything more than this is usually too much. It is also a perfect food for people who want to start their day off with a nice dose of protein and a bunch of ingredients that will help keep them full til lunch (a problem I have).

As a bonus, I'm including the recipe for Grandma Johnston's Mushy Apple Pie Oats Topping, which will betide a cozy autumn morning.

To begin with, let's look at the protein content of a "regular" overnight oat, in particular one I saw at a cafe that made me mad a couple years ago:

1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup oat milk (oat milk is just........ oat water. Already there are oats in here. I'm....)
2 tbsp cashew yogurt
maple syrup drizzle

Protein content: 8g

or if you double the serving because that's a teensy meal: 16g

We can do better than this. When you're training to build strength and trying to get 100-180g of protein in a day (or more, maybe!) a little 16g protein in your breakfast does not gains make. But what does make gains is:

Swoalts v2.0: Mush Reloaded

These are the building blocks of a good overnight oat:

Oats. Lately I use more oats than I used to for satiety/mush-consistency purposes. I only use whole rolled oats, and see no reason to use anything else.

Yogurt. My weapon of choice has always been Fage 2%. It has the best macros. I have no qualm with full-fat yogurt, but strongly recommend against fat-free here, because it is AGGRESSIVELY sour, which then has to be offset by other elements in the yogurt. Not worth it. However, the hint of sour from Greek yogurt, and the thickness, and the protein, matter a lot here to reaching the status of "swoalt." The sour element will help cut some of the artificial sweetness of protein powder; I don't know about you, but my nightmare morning scenario is having to eat a bowl of thin gruel that tastes like a packet of Equal.

Many non-dairy yogurt alternatives do NOT have this sour element, and have only about half as much protein per serving as Greek yogurt does (some even less), so substitute with caution.

If you can't eat dairy but can eat eggs, egg whites from a box are a nice way of beefing up the protein content in hot oatmeal, which I will cover below. Not to dairysplain everyone, but my understanding is that Greek yogurt is less triggering to a lactose intolerance than, say, milk (protein powder too! Especially whey isolate or hydrolysate) . Which brings me to:

Milk. I know, everyone hates milk. Too bad; I love it. Really here you only have to use "something wet"; it could be any alternative milk. Substitutes here will also harsh your protein content a bit; almond milk, for instance, has one eighth the protein content of dairy milk. It's basically water.

Protein powder. You might not like protein powder or protein shakes, but protein powder mixed into stuff is way less offensive, trust me. Also, how well it mixes or its texture don't really matter. After years of testing (and editing the Wirecutter guide on it), I keep returning to Optimum Gold Standard Vanilla Ice Cream. They don't know me, and I'm only saying this for truth. That said, I know many other things can work here. There are plenty of vegan protein alternatives that will probably work equally well, but if you have to elide the Greek yogurt or milk above, you might want to use slightly more protein powder.

Sweetener of some kind. As I've mentioned before, cutting protein powder with some real sugar helps offset the artificial flavor. My favorite is brown sugar, but you could use agave, maple syrup, whatever. This is your best alternative to offsetting the protein powder taste if you aren't using Greek yog, but there's also another hack I will explain below.

Toppings. I like to make a relatively plain but sweet swoalts base, usually in bulk, and add fruit (fresh or frozen) in the morning. I used to include chia seeds, which added a bit of fiber and protein, but stopped because I decided what was better was a tablespoon of peanut butter. Roughly the same benefits and nutritional content, way better taste. Then I like blueberries, strawberries, the occasional banana, and specifically in the fall, apples, as I will explain below.

But first: a single serving Swoalts Mush recipe. To me this is texturally perfect, though some may like it thicker (add less milk/wet element) or thinner (add more milk/wet element). I'm giving the amounts in grams too, because making this with a kitchen scale (Wirecutter-endorsed brand on sale here) is SO MUCH EASIER and worth the money, and there's no fussing with various measuring cups. It also helps particular if you are making and then portioning out a big batch, which we'll get to in a moment.

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Swoalts Mush

5/8 cup (50g) rolled oats
2/3 cup (110g) Greek yogurt
1/3 cup (80g) milk
1 tbsp (12g) brown sugar
1/2 scoop (12g) protein powder
1/3-1/2 cup of topping of your choice (berries, banana, nuts, peanut butter, etc)

Protein content (before toppings): 36g (1-2tbsp of peanut butter, for instance, will add another 3-6g)

Combine all ingredients except toppings and stir until well-incorporated. Put in the refrigerator and let sit at least 3 hours but ideally overnight for best results. Stir again in the morning, top with desired ingredients, and serve.

Big batch version (makes 5 servings):

3 1/8 cup (250g) rolled oats
3 cups (500g) Greek yogurt
1 2/3 (400g) cup milk
5 tbsp (60g) brown sugar
2 1/2 scoops (62g) protein powder

Combine all ingredients in the most giant food storage container you have and stir until well-incorporated. Put in the refrigerator and let sit at least 3 hours but ideally overnight for best results. Stir again in the morning, portion one serving (about one fifth of the whole thing, which is, you know, slightly less than a quarter of the whole thing), top with desired ingredients, and serve.

Non-dairy version:

1/2 cup (40g) rolled oats
1/2 cup nondairy yogurt (you could look for something like this, with added protein)
1/3 cup (80g) alternative milk
1/2 tbsp (6g) brown sugar (adjust according to taste/whether yogurt is sweetened or not)
1/2 scoop (12g) protein powder (more if desired/the eater can bear it)
A pinch of salt. TRUST ME1
1/3-1/2 cup of topping of your choice (berries, banana, nuts, peanut butter, etc)

Protein content: 23g

Combine all ingredients except toppings and stir until well-incorporated. Put in the refrigerator and let sit at least 3 hours but ideally overnight for best results. Stir again in the morning, top with desired ingredients, and serve.

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Hot egg white version:

1/2 cup (50g) rolled oats
1/2 cup egg whites
3/4 cup alternative milk/water (can adjust to consistency desired)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 scoop/12g protein powder (more if desired/the eater can bear it)
A pinch of salt. TRUST ME* do not do the pinch of salt in the Greek yogurt version it will be disgusting
1/3-1/2 cup of topping of your choice (berries, banana, nuts, peanut butter, etc)

Protein content: 32g

STOVE. Combine oats, alternative milk, egg whites, and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes until oats are cooked through. Add more water/milk if needed. Add the protein powder and stir until incorporated. Top with everything else.

MICROWAVE. Combine oats, alternative milk, egg whites, and salt in a bowl. Microwave 1.5 minutes, stir, add more water/milk if needed, then microwave another 1.5 minutes. Add the protein powder and stir until incorporated. Top with everything else.


And finally, Grandma Johnston's Mushy Apple Pie Oats Topping. If you, like me, read multiple different books in your youth where warm apples were some kid's absolute nemesis, the favorite dessert of their most hated old person, you also might have been missing out on the glory of being only minutes away at anytime from a nice, hot, mushy apple. The effect is apple-pie-like, and to me goes great with the creamy oatmeal.

I am a filthy casual and like my mushy apples plain, but you could add spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, brown sugar) for a more specifically pie-like experience. I’m most of the way through a canister of Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice coffee so I’m good on the flavor of allspice for the rest of my life.

(You might be wondering if this is my grandma's recipe; absolutely not. I'm the grandma now.)

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Grandma Johnston's Mushy Apple Pie Oats Topping

1 apple, sliced away from the core and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Pinches of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice (optional)
1-2 teaspoons of brown sugar (optional)

Put the apple pieces and other ingredients, if using, in a microwave-safe dish with a splash (1 teaspoon-ish) of water. Heat 1 minute 30 seconds, stir, then heat another minute. If there are extra juices, let it sit a minute; the apples will resorb them. Pour over your oats.

For less than a tub of Fage...


And now, we have to run through the week's links super quickly, because I'm running out of space:

Eat

Beasties Discord Pick of the Week~

A lot of people have become attached to working out at home after all our pandemic time, and the product I find myself most frequently recommending for strength training at home are adjustable dumbbells. They can be expensive as hell but less money and more compact than an equivalent set of individual dumbbells, and still much cheaper than a whole plates/barbell/rack setup (and extremely not the same, but a more than decent stopgap). (That said: I'm also a fan of getting the cheaper version of something you're not sure you'll use and selling it again when you are ready to upgrade, or discover this is not your bag.)

But I would like to settle the question of “which adjustable dumbbells,” a question I’m often asked (this is a mini-advice column within the free newsletter). Recently, the good people of our Discord community were going back and forth over adjustable dumbbells, and specifically, comparing the two dominant products in this space: the Bowflex adjustable dumbbells, and Powerblocks. As one of our members and this extensive Garage Gym Reviews review notes, though, the Bowflex dumbbells are awkwardly giant. I had to stop and laugh at how funny this is, to make Thanos-size dumbbells in order to make someone feel like a big boy. But anyway, if you're going to get adjustable dumbbells, the people agree: Powerblocks. In the vein of “buying the cheap version and selling it when ready to upgrade,” you can almost certainly find someone’s second-hand Powerblocks (or another type!) for cheap out there, so don’t forget about eBay, Facebook Marketplace, garage sales, etc.

(And I'm personally begging you not to get the kind with changeable plates and screw-on clips; particularly if you need to work up to a weight with warm-up sets, they are a huge pain in the ass. )

Do you have a favorite piece of at-home workout equipment? Tell me about it—

Leave a comment

I was on Brad and Will Made a Tech Pod this week, talking about fitness myths and learning to take care of your body! You should give it a listen.

People, this is why we stay jacked and strong: to save a beautiful sheep from a wire fence and then hoist him bodily back into the pasture whence he came.

I would get a tattoo in exchange for free tacos for life in a heartbeat.

I must reiterate re: bodyweight workouts, and specifically “Chris Hemsworth’s bodyweight workout”: no.

I love this little mini guide from @deadlifts_and_redlips on Hiring a Personal Trainer Who Is Less Likely to Eff You Up.

Drink

Facebook was shocked, shocked to hear the "deliberate mischaracterizations" and "false motives" ascribed to it in response to the Wall Street Journal report on its internal data, including, as I covered, that Instagram materially makes people's lives worse. Come off it!!! Out of interest, I looked up what the top hashtags are on Instagram, because I was curious just how much of the IG pie fitness is. Many are generic meaningless follow4follow type audience-building ones (#photoofheday, #picoftheday, #followme, #instagood etc). A clutch are friend/loved ones-related (#friends, #love, #repost), fashion/travel-related (#fashion, #style, #travel, #photography). #fitness, though still makes the top 25, just above #food (#27) and way above #sunset and #beach, if that tells you anything.

A reader turned me onto this personal trainer on Instagram, James Smith, who is bringing Gordon Ramsey energy to the fitness and personal training space. Would I say everything in exactly his turns of phrase, if it were me? No. But he is mostly a breath of fresh air. I loved this rant on V-Shred (if you haven't heard of it, cover your ears and run, sweet child) and why he doesn't have a six pack/why that's probably a bad goal for... everybody. Here is the thing, as I'm often saying: you can probably get a six-pack, and for a very rare genetically gifted individual, it might even be not too hard. But for the rest of us, it makes our lives shit, and for what?

Rest

Because strength content can be so trend-focused, it can be easy to lose sight of what matters big picture: Train with enough volume, frequency, and intensity using progressive overload; be consistent; eat; and rest. Remember this when you're caught up about not being able to eat exactly the right pre-workout meal, or some such.

Apropos of nothing, because I don’t get tired of saying it: the fat-burning zone is a myth.

I'm a sucker for Brad Stulberg's writing on some of the touchy-feely aspects of personal growth, and GQ had a nice chat with him. (I also read every single one of these How to Build a Life articles, murmuring under my breath "so true, bestie,” against my better judgment.)

And finally, it's been a real week in crime news. Apropos of nothing, Why Does He Do That? should be required reading. This book unlocked a lot of things for me.


That's everything for this week! May your gains be steady, and may your weights be light.

I love you, thank you, let's go—

1

Do not put salt in the Greek yogurt version; it will be terrible.