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Winter Pre-Run Fuel

The great thing about early morning winter runs is that you don’t have to get up as early as you would in the summer.  You can get up at the comfortable time of 6 or 6:30 and still have breakfast before the sun is up.  Now on morning runs I don’t eat full breakfast, but I like to eat a little something.  If I leave the house on an empty stomach, I notice I run out of energy half way into the run (or sooner!).


For an early morning pre-run fuel, I’m looking for three things: carbs, fruit, and a little bit of fat.  I really avoid protein (read: eggs) because it takes longer to digest and gives me stomach issues.  All I really want is something to break the fast.   Since these winter mornings are chilly, my go to pre-run fuel these days are Steel-Cut Oats.  I love that Quaker has come out with the Quick 3 minute oats.  I cook them on the stove.  I tried it once in the microwave and they exploded all over the place.


I like my oatmeal creamy so I use half milk half water.  I’ve found if use only milk the pot is really hard to clean.  I think because of the sugars in milk.  If I use only water, I feel like I can barely choke it down, but the pot is easier to clean.  The 50/50 mix of milk and water seems to give the happy balance of creaminess and easy clean-up.  Time saver tip:  Use a 1 cup measure, fill half with water (eyeball it) then fill to the top with milk. 

Add the water and milk together with the vanilla and heat over med-high heat until it has tons of tiny bubbles.

Tiny Bubbles

Then add the oats and reduce the heat to low.  Sometimes I have to take the pot off the heat for a second or two because the milk wants to bubble over.  I just lift it off the burner a little and stir.  It settles down, but you want to watch it.  Be sure to stir the oats well at the beginning or they will lump together.  Cook until thickened about 3-5 minutes.

Oats are done -add toppings

I remove my oats from the heat when there is still quite a bit of liquid but there is some resistance with my spoon.  They thicken up even more as they cool.  You can top your oats with any fruit you like.  Frozen cherries are my go to because they are sweet and they cool the oatmeal down quickly.  I usually chop them in half straight out of the freezer. I try not to add any brown sugar or sweetener to my oatmeal which is why I lean towards fruits that are naturally sweeter.  Hence, cherries and not blueberries.  I figure this way the sugars are natural and it’s still delicious.  And then I choose my nuts based on what we have in the house – usually pecans or walnuts.


Quick Steel Cut Oats with Cherries and Pecans
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Perfect meal for a winter morning run!
Recipe type: Winter Pre-Run Fuel
Serves: 1
  • ½ c milk
  • ½ c water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ⅓ c steel cut oats
  • sliced cherries, fresh or frozen
  • pecans, chopped
  1. Heat milk, water, and vanilla in saucepan over med-high heat.
  2. When milk water mixture starts to boil (or when it starts to get lots of tiny bubbles), add the oats and stir. Reduce heat to low.
  3. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 3-5 minutes until thickened (as desired).
  4. When done, remove from heat and serve. Top with cherries and sprinkle with pecans.
  5. Enjoy!
If you would like a smaller serving, use ¼ cup of oats and ¾ cup of liquid.

One last thing: If I have this on a non-running morning, then I usually make a smaller serving (1/4 cup) and have two eggs on the side.  Either way, hope you like it!  Let me know if you try it.


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