How I do mornings + chocolate protein oats


This post was created in partnership with OXO.

Unless you’re new around here, you’re well aware that I’m an up-by-6AM kinda morning person. I live for mornings and the quite, dark hours before everything starts to stir. It’s my time to sit with my thoughts and my coffee and just chill the F out before I start the day.

So it should come as no surprise that the first thing I do when I get out of bed each morning is walk downstairs, fill the electric kettle (I’m not one to promote unnecessary consumption but if you haven’t upgraded your stovetop kettle to the adjustable temperature pour-over kettle— WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?) (not only do you get to control the water temperature (!) but the body and handle design make for a super smooth pour), and drink a big glass of room temperature water while I wait for the other water to boil. Once the water is ready, I make my favorite cup of pour-over and savor it from the comfort of our couch (or bed). I do this every single morning of every single day and it’s been my routine for as long as I can remember. Even on days when we have to be out of the house by 6AM, I’ll wake up an hour before Thom just to ensure I get that little chunk of quiet time to myself.

Depending on the day, I might go to the gym. But probably not because lately I’ve been really good at talking myself into doubling up on workouts which means I only lift weights ~*two days a week*~ and yes it’s basically the best idea I’ve ever had (but I don’t think it’s something I can sustain much longer because bodies are weird). So maybe I’m going to the gym. Or maybe I’m whipping up a protein-heavy breakfast and eating it across from my handsome husband (who actually never makes my coffee, despite what these photos convey). Or maybe I’m packing up breakfast (and second coffee) (and Thom’s first and only tea) and eating it from the heated passenger seat of our car because, if it’s a weekday, chances are we’re leaving our place. Which not only means we’re probably taking breakfast and warm beverages to-go (beverages that actually stay warm thanks to our handy travel mugs), but it also means I’ve got to tidy up before we head out for the day. Cleaning before we leave is a really weird habit I developed over the course of however many months (nine?) we’ve been living in our tiny loft. When we get home at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is run the vacuum or wash a bunch of dishes, so I take the extra 15-20 minutes each morning to give our place a quick clean. And you know what? It makes a huge difference in our ability to come home and unwind at the end of a long day.

Oddly enough, weekend mornings aren’t that much different from the weekdays. I still wake up at the same time but try to stay in bed until 7AM, if I can. I’ll sneak downstairs to make my first mug of pour-0ver then head back to our bed to catch up on the news (lately I’ve been avoiding it throughout the week) (#mentalhealth) or answer emails. Or, you know, just mindlessly scroll through that reaaally addictive photo sharing app. When Thom finally wakes up (he’s a night owl and definitely not a morning person), we make breakfast together and eat it at the dining table. Sometimes he makes blueberry pancakes. Sometimes I’ll make (not protein) waffles. And sometimes we go the no-fuss route and he’ll heat up a pastry from one of his favorite bakeries and I’ll whip up a quick breakfast to match.

Speaking of breakfast! Mine are almost always heavy on the protein. I try to eat 130+ grams of protein each day and it makes it really easy to hit that goal when I start my day with a solid 40 grams. Some mornings I guzzle a protein shake and other mornings I make a single-serving vanilla protein waffle, but lately I’ve been on an oatmeal kick because the protein powder burnout is real and I need to use every trick in the book to mask the flavor of that nasty stuff: extra cacao, lots of tangy yogurt, fruit, and nut butter are pretty good at that. The thing I love most about the oatmeal recipe is that it literally comes together in minutes and can easily be taken on the go. It’s got a good mix of protein and carbs and fat and it keeps me satisfied for hours. Like, so many hours that some days I’ll forget to eat lunch (guess who hates when I forget to eat lunch?) because I’m still so satisfied FROM A SERVING OF OATMEAL.

So, tell me, how do you do mornings? I wanna know.

Our mornings wouldn’t be complete without many of the items you see in this post: the adjustable temperature pour-over kettle (I will never go back to a stovetop kettle), 11 pound food scale, glass pour-over dripper, plastic creamer, twisting tea ball (it actually twists and is a game-changer for those of you who are tea drinkers.. or those of you who prepare tea for your tea drinkers). Or our single serve travel mugs, conical burr grinder, and 9-cup coffee maker – all three of which make mornings at the office a little more tolerable.

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Notes: You might be thinking, why not just use chocolate protein powder? But it’s not the same (trust me, I’ve tried it). Adding the cacao powder yourself ensures there’s enough of it to mask the flavor of the protein powder. And as someone who’s reached peak protein powder burnout, masking the flavor is crucial. But since you can’t mask it entirely, adding a boatload of toppings helps considerably. This bowl packs 40+ grams of protein and while there’s debate about how much your body can absorb at once, the excess protein will aid in keeping you satisfied much longer than a regular bowl of oatmeal. I use this protein powder and love it. I’ve tried every vegan protein powder under the sun and it’s the only one I can recommend; especially if your goal is to build muscle. If you’re not into quick oats, here’s a recipe for hearty protein oats that uses the steel-cut variety.

This post is sponsored by OXO, maker of some of the smartest gadgets and kitchen tools available on the market. All opinions are my own (and I think OXO rules).


1/2 cup (45g) quick cooking rolled oats
1 scoop (45g) vanilla protein powder
1 tablespoon (10g) chia seeds

1 tablespoon (5g) cacao powder
Pinch of vanilla bean powder
Pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 cups (270g) boiling water

You’ll also need
Homemade coconut yogurt
Banana slices
Roasted almond butter
Almonds, roughly chopped
Toasted coconut flakes

Combine the oats, protein powder, chia seeds, cacao powder, vanilla bean powder, and sea salt in a bowl or jar; mix to combine. Stir in 1 cup of the boiling water (this is where the electric kettle comes in clutch – HOT WATER IN <2 MINUTES!), just enough to ensure everything is smooth and combined, then stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of water to thin things out. Let the oatmeal sit for 2-3 minutes then add more water if a thinner consistency is desired. If eating immediately, top with yogurt, banana slices, almond butter, coconut flakes, and almonds. If stashing in your fridge overnight (heads up: I prefer overnight protein muesli to overnight oats), add all the toppings except for the banana slices.

Yield: 1 serving




  • Reply Carlina 25 January 2018 at 7:07 AM

    Oh man that sounds amazing. I was wondering what the rest of your day food wise looks like, I’m not vegan or veg, but I find if I eat oats in the morning with fruit that’s like so much of my carbs for the day lol

    • Reply Ashlae 26 January 2018 at 6:11 AM

      Hi Carlina –

      The only thing I keep track of is my protein intake but if I had to guess I’d say I eat a good chunk of carbs each day. Yesterday’s breakfast was a bowl of protein oats, lunch was coconut tortillas with eggs, kraut, and avocado, my midday snack was a protein bar followed by some almond flour tortillas, then I had roasted fingerlings, roasted carrots, white beans, and steamed kale for dinner. And before I went to bed I ate a couple servings of chips and half a chocolate bar (I’ve been so snacky lately). I wound up squeezing in 135 grams of protein and I feel good about that. Though I probably could have eaten another veggie or two. ;)

  • Reply Allie 25 January 2018 at 9:17 AM

    I’m trying this today (with a half-portion)!

    I love the quiet of mornings as well. I usually clean the kitchen as I make coffee and then read a bit or plan my day while I drink my coffee. I often work from home and unless I’m exercising in the a.m., I shower and get dressed which helps put a start to my day.

  • Reply Scully 25 January 2018 at 9:47 AM

    I split my meals equally throughout the day (with carbs being higher around my exercise), and try to have a steady intake of 20-25g of protein per meal, but as a fellow morning person, I’m intrigued by the notion of upping my protein in the morning. I’m most hungry in the morning and afternoon, and couldn’t care less about dinner, so this is something I might try. (Vega Sport is tasty, but I prefer super clean, unflavored whey. Especially when I’m going to flavor it myself. :) )

    • Reply Ashlae 26 January 2018 at 6:16 AM

      Hi Scully –

      Upping my protein in the morning has been huge for me; both in terms of weight gain (I’m a slooow gainer) and overall mood, energy level, etc. Highly recommend you give it a try! It’s not for everyone so if it doesn’t work for you, DON’T SWEAT IT. I wish I could do whey but dairy gives me such a hard time. :| Vega isn’t the best tasting (the stevia.. UGH), but it’s the protein that’s given me the best results so I’m sticking with it. :)

  • Reply Clem 25 January 2018 at 11:21 AM

    Ashlae, where is all your beautiful crockery from?? I NEED IT. Seriously I have been eyeing that kind of crockery and dinnerware and finding it nowhere in the UK. *sob*

    I need that me time in the mornings too and I’m trying so hard to tidy in the mornings before I go (it’s not really my husband’s strong suit).

    • Reply Ashlae 26 January 2018 at 6:18 AM

      Hi Clem –

      The white plates and bowls are part of the organic dinnerware line at West Elm. The colorful bowls are the latte bowls from Anthropologie. :) Hopefully they can ship to you? :) I hope you’re well, lady! HUGS.

      • Reply Clem 26 January 2018 at 8:05 AM

        Anthropologie I can find in the UK! West Elm I’m gonna have to Google. The husband is going to roll his eyes when he sees me bringing this stuff home. (I love pretty crockery and am well on my way to being a crockery hoarder. Oh well.)

        I am well and hope you are too! Have moved from Scotland to London (only for a few years). Come see me if you’re ever here! x

  • Reply Loril 25 January 2018 at 1:19 PM

    This recipe comes at a perfect time! For medical reasons, I need to consume 67-100 grams of protein per day. As a vegan, I’m finding it extremely difficult to meet let alone exceed the minimum goal each day. Consuming 40 grams with my first meal is a great start to the day, but like Carlina, I’m really curious what the rest of your days’ meals look like to reach such a high protein goal each day!

    • Reply Ashlae 26 January 2018 at 6:22 AM

      Hi Loril –

      My response to Carlina is above! I don’t follow a vegan diet anymore but I do eat plant-based 90% of the time. Protein powder and beans should make it pretty easy to meet at least your minimum requirement. <3

  • Reply Hannah 25 January 2018 at 1:46 PM

    Love hearing about morning routines. They are so different and personal for everyone. My husband and I wake up together around 6:15 (our New Year’s resolution to stop hitting the snooze is *sorta* being followed). We then quickly dress, split a piece of fruit, and either lift weights, ride our indoor bike trainers, do yoga, or go for a walk. Then he prepares coffee while I do breakfast and pack up lunches. Finally, we carpool to our separate places of employment. This routine keeps us both on track and is cherished for its consistency. Getting up early to exercise, whether light or strenuous, isn’t something I view as a chore or a burden; it’s just what we do.

    Starting this past fall, I’ve been preparing hot oatmeal 2-3 times a week to replace some of our smoothies/overnight oats/muesli, and it’s been a game changer. As a habitual giant-lunch-salad eater, it’s great to get some warm food in my belly before nightfall, especially in the cooler months. Typically i throw in a handful of hemp hearts and then top them up with PB or AB, but I’ve never tried adding protein powder. DEF going to give that a go.

    Also, I’ve probably commented this before, but NuZest (vanilla) remains my forever protein powder. I used to use Vega One, and I recently tried a serving of it and found it borderline gross in comparison to NuZest. I’ve tried every flavor and find them all to be palatable, but vanilla is by far the most versatile. Just a PSA ;-) Speaking of, love your insta stories PSAs. xoxo

    • Reply Ashlae 26 January 2018 at 6:26 AM

      Hi Hannah –

      Were you the one who originally recommend NuZest to me forever ago? I did give it a try for a couple of weeks but my performance wasn’t as good as when I supplement with Vega. I, admittedly, don’t love Vega but I LOVE the results I get from their formulation. Just wish they’d ditch the damn stevia. OOOOF.

      Happy my texting while driving and stretch marks PSAs aren’t annoying you yet. ;) XO

      PS – Love your commitment to your morning routine. <3

      • Reply Hannah 30 January 2018 at 11:49 AM

        Yes I’m sure I did, as I love NuZest. I’m not specifically using it and tracking my performance (though admittedly I really should), but I just find the flavor so pleasant and neutral.

  • Reply Abby 25 January 2018 at 1:54 PM

    I am so impresssed that you eat 130 grams of protein each day! Have you been supplementing with meat or eggs much? I know your diet and exercise routine have changed a lot in the past year or two and I’m really hoping you’ll talk about it. Long runs need to be a thing of my past!

    As far as mornings are concerned, I am not a morning person. I have to wake up at 7 during the week but on the weekends you can find me sleeping until at least 10. I rarely eat breakfast. I don’t drink coffee. Did I mention I’m not a morning person? ;)

    • Reply Ashlae 26 January 2018 at 6:28 AM

      Hi Abby –

      I do eat eggs a couple times a week! I developed a really strange aversion to them last year but am slowly coming out of it. I eat meat whenever my body craves it (which, thankfully, isn’t often because meat still grosses me out).

  • Reply Jenna 25 January 2018 at 2:47 PM

    Your pictures are always my favorite!

  • Reply Elizabeth Jarrard 25 January 2018 at 4:20 PM


  • Reply Aiden 25 January 2018 at 5:20 PM

    THANK YOU! I have been needing this since I saw it on insta omg.

    By the way… “quick rolled oats” = rolled oats or quick cooking oats…?

    • Reply Ashlae 26 January 2018 at 6:28 AM

      Hi Aiden –

      Quick COOKING rolled oats. ;) Fixed!

      • Reply Aiden 28 January 2018 at 6:57 PM

        Thank you! <3

  • Reply Martha 25 January 2018 at 8:44 PM

    Mine is similar to yours! My morning pour-over and warm bowl of oats are my sacred morning ritual before my little devils, I mean, beautiful children wake up. That cup of glorious coffee in the peace and quiet is almost an otherworldly experience. I’m putting that kettle on my wishlist! Right now I’m working with a very flimsy cheap one from amazon.

  • Reply Cathy 26 January 2018 at 7:36 AM

    I wake up 2 hours before work to read personal development books, read my goals/affirmations, and write in my gratitude journal. I also clean before I leave for work for about 10 min. Nothing beats coming home to a clean place :)

  • Reply Lan | MoreStomach 26 January 2018 at 9:20 AM

    i wake up every work day at 5am (on weekends it’s usually 7am) an hour before i need to, no matter what time i went to bed the night before. this gives my body time to wake up and prepare for the day. i have a lazy gut and prior to starting this habit, i could go days without going to the bathroom. i make a cup of coffee, have the local news on low volume and i just hang out. since doing this, i have gone every single morning (save for the couple of times i’m recovering from jet lag & my body is out of whack). this week i have implemented making breakfast, it was steel cut oats early in the week but i don’t think i’m cooking them correctly because my stomach has been hurting. so today i tried your method (minus the protein powder) and so far so good. i also sipped a glass of hot water with lemon juice, after reading elle mcpherson’s interview on goop.

  • Reply Chelsea | Baked Greens 29 January 2018 at 9:29 AM

    I totally feel you on the protein powder burnout…while I lift weights just for the heck of it, my husband is a pretty extreme athlete (will be on Ninja Warrior this year!!) who doesn’t like ANY of the protein powders out there, so I’m always looking for clever ways to boost the protein content of our breakfasts without eating protein powder for every meal.
    Lately I’ve been loving the combination of lentils + oats (usually just split red lentils bc they cook so much more quickly) or lentils + quinoa, cooked in big batches earlier in the week then pulsed in the food processor until a porridge-y consistency and reheated with a splash of milk to get the consistency I like. Weird and a little more time consuming, but 1/4 cup each of lentils and quinoa gives you a 20g protein boost before any seeds/nut butters/etc.

    • Reply Ashlae 7 February 2018 at 9:15 AM

      Hi Chelsea –


      Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get behind the oats + lentils combination. I’ve tried it twice and each time I’ve wound up pitching the bowl. :| A good protein powder blend packs a lot more than just protein, and I’ve found it’s a vital component to my post-workout regimen (but daaamn I wish it wasn’t).

  • Reply Edie 29 January 2018 at 2:06 PM

    Wait — that’s genius about adding the cocoa powder. I shall try that tomorrow! You’re brilliant.

  • Reply Mandi 5 February 2018 at 1:56 PM

    Vega makes an unsweetened version of their One powder (not sure whether you use One or Sport):
    I hate stevia too.

  • Reply How I Do Mornings + Chocolate Protein Oats from Oh, Ladycakes - OXO Good Tips 6 February 2018 at 3:27 PM

    […] to Oh, Ladycakes for the Chocolate Protein Oats recipe and more about her […]

  • Reply Hanna 10 February 2018 at 1:46 PM

    Thanks for the recipe! I always make oats in the morning…and I know that I can add protein powder to them to get a little staying power, but have always been “eh” about protein powder. This was the perfect post to just get me to fricken eat it. The past couple of weeks I have made a weeks worth of jars and just add hot water to one in the morning and top with banana & almond butter. GAME CHANGER. I finally feel fuller for longer and it is super tasty!

    Also, I really like Tone It Up’s vanilla protein powder. Not as overpowering as the vega protein & greens I used to buy all the time, as it has monk fruit instead of stevia. (I did just recently buy the vega protein you linked and can’t wait to try it once my other tub is out.)

  • Reply Ashley 14 February 2018 at 6:41 PM

    I rarely use protein powder (and never in my oats) but I still love all those same toppings on my oats. So many endless possibilities with loaded oatmeal! I’m also super obsessed with your kitchen (or what I’ve seen of it!) and I’m convinced eating in it would make my meals taste even better ;)

  • Reply Lieselotte Eisenhardt 18 February 2018 at 9:18 AM

    So, since you’ve stuck with the protein powder for a while I assume it isn’t causing constipation? I can’t be sure, but that’s what I think is happening to me. So, I’ve switched over to whey powder.

    • Reply Ashlae 18 February 2018 at 10:12 AM

      Hi Lieselotte –

      Every body is different! It could be that you’re not drinking enough water (or eating enough fiber). High protein diets require considerably more water than the recommended 8-10 glasses a day.

  • Reply Josie 3 March 2018 at 3:37 PM

    I LOVE mornings and find so much peace when I get up early. My favorite thing lately has been getting up early to make pour over coffee, and then I listen to a podcast while I feed my sourdough starter and put away dishes that have been on the drying rack over night. It’s so cozy and I love having a routine every morning to get me started.

  • Reply Anna 17 April 2018 at 11:28 PM

    For those in a diet or in vegan, they should try this one…very healthy food…

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