Overnight oats with chia, pumpkin, and cacao.

[Leaf Parade. Det goda livet: “Lagom” overnight oats with chia, pumpkin, and cacao nibs {gluten-free}.]

I have a tendency to be a little big-hearted about things. A little fixed. A little passionate. My family has always called it “opinionated,” which I have come to learn (through my interaction with people who aren’t required to love me, as my family is so required) is really a vehemence, a rabid and furious devotion and enthusiasm for every decision I make, every plan I forge. It’s an obsession — for everything. Being excited about things keeps me up at night. If I decide I want to make pancakes the next day, for example, I’m up all night thinking about pancakes. I think, I plan, I wonder, I make lists — so many lists. I believe that things worth doing are always worth overdoing. And so, as it goes, a lot of overdoing gets done. Also, I don’t really like to sleep.

I spent my senior year of college living in Sweden, studying as an exchange student at Uppsala Universitet. The Swedes have this deeply-ingrained cultural ideal called lagom, which means, roughly, “just enough.” To achieve lagom means to achieve composure, to have what you need and to not have what you don’t need; it is a sense of balance and moderation, and it is an important part of det goda livet, “the good life.” Lagom is a comprehensive and everyday paragon — one that, in many ways, runs counter to an American lifestyle. Particularly mine. And, even more particularly, my lifestyle in Sweden. You see, this was the view from my flat:

[Leaf Parade. Oh Uppsala.]

[Leaf Parade. Oh Uppsala.]

Is this kind of beauty really supposed to inspire moderation? Balance? Restraint and sobriety? I was William Blake at Tintern Abbey.

You should have seen me trying to navigate a Swedish grocery store those first few months. It was one small victory to figure out exactly what a product was, but it was another to sort out its costs in terms of American dollars. (35 SEK for a loaf of bread? That seemed like an awful lot.) I spent most of my time walking up and down the aisles, wringing my hands, trying to figure out how I was going to feed myself. The produce was easy, but everything else seemed so unfamiliar, so foreign. I think my first haul looked something like this: a collection of fruits and vegetables, a jar of Nutella (obviously), a pot of goat cheese, some chickpeas, a carton of eggs, “Turkisk” yogurt (sold in what can only be described as a bucket), a jar of creamed honey, and a little satchel of Euroshopper fruit muesli (because there was no granola and ohmygodCap’nCrunchdoesn’texistherewhathaveIdone).

[Leaf Parade. Det goda livet: “Lagom” overnight oats with chia, pumpkin, and cacao nibs {gluten-free}.]

These last three items — the yogurt, the honey, and the muesli — soon occupied a special place in my heart and in my life. Together they provided a type of inoculation to any hopes I ever had of achieving lagom.

I would take my spoon and thoughtfully dip it into the honey. It was the most beautiful honey I had ever seen — so luscious and smooth, a milky-white blonde. It was certainly unlike the amber-colored novelty honey that my parents sometimes bought at the Christmas Tree Shop, which was sold in little plastic bears and laced with “blueberry flavor.” It was real honey. From bees. Real bees. Next, I would dip my spoon in the yogurt. Turkish yogurt is, as it turns out (and despite the political ramifications this statement might incur), Greek-style yogurt, and Sweden was the very first place I experienced its greatness. It was creamy and thick, like sour cream. And I loved it. They sold it in buckets, and I ate it in buckets. Once my spoon was appropriately dressed with honey and a thick glop of yogurt, I would bury it deeply in the muesli bag and collect as many dry pieces of oats and fruits as I could manage. These were also my first scrapes with muesli — a European cereal of uncooked oats, sometimes mixed with nuts, seeds, and fruit, and often regarded by Americans as a little strange.

[Leaf Parade. Det goda livet: “Lagom” overnight oats with chia, pumpkin, and cacao nibs {gluten-free}.]

Once the ingredients in my spoonful were properly integrated, I would eat it. Then I would repeat the steps, over and over, my bare feet resting on the desk before me, the sunshine coming in through my big, open window, Feist’s “I Feel It All” pumping predictably from my MacBook. During these sessions, I would devour what can only be described as way too much. When I would finally tap out, I would be on a sugar high for hours, my jaw sore from chewing so many raw oats. It was an obscene habit. Unseemly. It was not very lagom of me.

I no longer buy muesli, but I’ve developed a real love for raw rolled oats. I like to eat them straight or mixed in with yogurt. Recently, I began to see recipes for “overnight oats,” a really simple breakfast that is whipped up the night before, and doctored in any which way you happen to love it. Typically, the suggestion is to use equal parts rolled oats, milk, and yogurt, but, instead of yogurt, I thicken mine with a big serving of chia seeds. I’ve topped my oats with two of my most recent superfood obsessions — pumpkin and cacao nibs. This new version of my Swedish spoon fête is a step closer in my pursuit of a more lagom life.

[Leaf Parade. Det goda livet: “Lagom” overnight oats with chia, pumpkin, and cacao nibs {gluten-free}.]

To dress up your oats you can use whatever you happen to like or have around the kitchen — berries, raisins, almonds, nut butter, etc. Kath over at Kath Eats Real Food is the queen of overnight oats — check out her page for other mix-in ideas. And, of course, feel free to sweeten up your own breakfast with some honey or agave, if you prefer it that way. Do as you do.

[Leaf Parade. Det goda livet: “Lagom” overnight oats with chia, pumpkin, and cacao nibs {gluten-free}.]


Lagom” overnight oats with chia seeds, pumpkin, and cacao nibs {gluten-free, dairy-free}.

Serves: 1


  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or whatever milk you like)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon whole chia seeds
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon cacao nibs


  1. Pour the oats, milk, seeds, and salt into a jar with an air-tight lid. Shake the contents very well to prevent the seeds from clumping and then put the jar in the fridge overnight to set.
  2. In the morning, shake some more. Top with pumpkin and cacao nibs.

Note: Overnight oats are best when shaken, not stirred. So do be sure to prepare them in a jar with an air-tight lid, for optimal shaking capability.


2 thoughts on “Overnight oats with chia, pumpkin, and cacao.

  1. Pingback: Happy little Sunday things. | Leaf Parade.

  2. Pingback: Crustless spinach + cheddar quiche. | Leaf Parade.

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