Sailor & Galley: Rolled Oats Breakfast Pudding with a Tropical Twist

The coconut and mangos in this nutritious, make-ahead breakfast will transport you straight to paradise.
Quincey and Mitchell Cummings
Quincey and her husband, Mitchell, sail their Peterson 46 Esprit near their temporary home port of Ventura, California. Quincey Cummings

We had departed Santa Catalina Island, California, at midnight aboard our Peterson 46, Esprit. It was October, and we were making the 60-plus-nautical-mile passage at night because of a favorable wind forecast. Our destination, Ventura, lay upwind. Winds would be fairly light but enough to avoid motoring the entire way.

 My husband, Mitchell, and I are both originally from a landlocked mountain town: Park City, Utah, which we still call our official home port. We bought Esprit in Panama in 2018, then sailed back to San Francisco Bay, where we could operate charters to earn money for extended cruising. When the pandemic hit, ­charters were no longer an option, so we relocated to Southern California to live aboard and work. We chose Ventura because we had friends there and could easily get into the boat-repair and management business. This industry thrived during the pandemic—a great way to stock the cruising kitty.

Dawn is my favorite watch time on passage. As the sky ­began to brighten, I updated the ship’s log, scanned the horizon once more, and popped down below. My mission: Brew hot coffee and extract a Mason jar from the fridge. In the jar was my “instant” breakfast: a luscious mix of coconut milk, rolled oats, honey, and spice, topped with nuts and fresh fruit. (I often alternate this quick onboard breakfast with an equally delicious “pudding” made with chia seeds.) 

With my mission complete, I settled into the cockpit, enjoyed each bite as the sky turned tangerine, and watched seabirds hunting for their own breakfasts. 

Something big splashed in the distance. Dolphins? I had no one to ask because my crew, consisting of my husband and our cat, were snoozing peacefully down below. Soon, Anacapa Island came into view off the port bow. It’s one of eight islands that make up the Channel Islands archipelago. Five of them, including Anacapa, are national parkland. They are all rugged and pristine, and provide us with challenging and epic cruising grounds. 

In just a few more hours, we’d be back in Ventura Harbor, our temporary home port, before we sailed south to Mexico and beyond.

When it comes to passage-­planning, one of my favorite tasks is figuring out what to eat. We are foodies, and my studies and work background are in nutrition, so there are always fresh, made-from-scratch meals and snacks aboard Esprit.Overnight oats and chia pudding are two of my favorite make-ahead boat breakfasts, and I almost always make a batch or two for passages. Oats have the benefit of being more readily available in markets; they don’t provide quite as much protein as chia seeds, but they’re a great source of filling fiber and quality carbohydrates. (Just add more nuts or seeds to boost protein.) 

There are countless ways to vary each recipe, depending on what you have on hand and what sounds delicious to you. The base is dry rolled oats or chia seeds soaked overnight in coconut milk. (You can use any milk, but I love the tropical taste of the coconut.) You can even combine the chia and oats (see Cook’s Notes). Dress it up with a variety of seasonal fruit, nuts, or seeds for a satisfying, filling breakfast that’s high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants; that’s sure to provide long-lasting fuel for your adventures by sea or land. 

Both recipes will last for several days in the fridge. Consider making a few batches, divided into single-serve containers. This convenient, pre-made breakfast also makes a great snack during passages, or it can be a pretty addition to brunch at anchor with friends. 

Better yet, take time to enjoy a slow morning as I did with this easy, tropical pudding, and transport yourself to paradise, if you’re not already there.

Tropical Breakfast “Pudding” (Serves 2)

rolled oats pudding in mason jar
Tropical Breakfast “Pudding” Lynda Morris Childress

For oats:

  • 1⁄2 cup dry rolled oats
  • 1⁄2 cup (or to taste) coconut or any other milk

For chia seeds:

  • 4 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 cup coconut or any other milk
  • 1⁄4 tsp. cardamom (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup 
  • 1 very ripe mango, pureed; or fresh berries, peach or any fruit, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped pistachios, ­pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts or slivered almonds

Combine oats or chia seeds, milk, cardamom, and honey or maple syrup in a small bowl. If using nonhomogenized coconut milk, you first might need to warm it in a ­saucepan to get rid of clumps.

Once combined, divide equally into 2 small Mason jars or other containers. Leave room at the top for fruit. 

Cover and refrigerate overnight, or a minimum of 4 hours, to thicken pudding consistency. 

If using mango, slice and scoop out the flesh. Use a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Store in a container in the fridge, and spoon over the mixture once it’s firmed up. If using other fruit, add it to the pudding once it’s firm, or just before eating. 

Top with nuts, and savor.

Difficulty: EASY

Cook’s Notes: 

As a topping, pureed peach is also divine, or a blueberry compote. A good-quality jam is a great substitute if fresh provisions are low. Add a sprinkling of crushed, freeze-dried raspberries or pineapples for extra zing. For oats, a dollop of plain Greek yogurt before adding the fruit is also delicious.

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