With school underway and schedules filling up, who isn’t looking for a way to make that a.m. routine a little more convenient? It’s time to introduce the ease of overnight oats, a quick option to fill you up and get you out the door on even the busiest of mornings. Don’t be fooled - this heart-healthy staple is no thing of the past. With an endless array of toppings and a little creativity, you’ll soon discover there’s nothing ordinary about oatmeal anymore.

The Basics

Those looking to speed up their mornings without sacrificing their health need look no further than this new take on breakfast. Unlike traditional oatmeal, the overnight variety requires no cooking. Like none. Zero. All you need to get started is some old-fashioned oats, a glass container, and your favorite milky mix-ins. For the best consistency, stick to traditional oatmeal as quick-cooking oats and steel-cut do not result in the preferred texture. Feel free to experiment with your milks, though, as almond, cashew, or coconut milk add a delicious complexity to the final product. Begin with a ratio of 1:1 for oats to milk and build from there to see what works for you.

For a base recipe, add ½ cup of oats to an empty glass container. Top with ½ cup of your desired milk and any additional seeds you might like. Try 1 tablespoon of chia, hemp, or flaxseed as each packs a nutritious punch without substantially affecting flavor. Next, toss in a hint of sweetness in the form of pure maple syrup, vanilla extract, or brown sugar. Two teaspoons to 1 tablespoon should do depending on your palette. Next, cover and store the mixture in the refrigerator overnight. When morning comes, remove the container from the fridge, heat quickly in the microwave if you prefer (it is also quite yummy cold), then, finish off with delicious toppings ranging from cinnamon to chocolate chips to fresh fruit.

Traditional Made Trendy

Of course, this breakfast go-to has a long list of tried and true pairings - cinnamon and brown sugar, apples and walnuts, and milk and honey to name a few. In this age of flavor fusions, though, why stay simple when there are so many more interesting combos to try?

For example, instead of the standard cinnamon, try adding a dash of turmeric, as well. This South Asian spice has found a growing audience in coffee connoisseurs who can’t get enough of its earthy appeal, and the marriage of these two spices is sure to warm you up on a chilly morning. If you’d prefer a more obvious nod to the coffee shop, though, add some quality espresso to your next bowl. High in flavor and anti-oxidants, espresso or a strongly brewed coffee brings a level of sophistication to an otherwise ordinary bowl of oats. Simply sub ¼ cup of your milk for ¼ cup coffee, and let soak overnight. Toss in a handful of raw or toasted hazelnuts and a drizzle of chocolate syrup, and you’ve entered oatmeal heaven.

Keeping It Healthy

For those wanting to keep breakfast as health-conscious as possible, there are lots of easy add-ins to help achieve your goals. Try using almond milk with one teaspoon vanilla extract, one tablespoon of honey, and dried or fresh lavender to top it off. You might also enjoy a nuts and berries approach by combining cashew milk with a dash of maple syrup, then finish it off the next day with a handful of blueberries and chopped walnuts or raspberries, almond slivers, and unsweetened coconut flakes.

Dessert for Breakfast

Feeling a little more indulgent? Overnight oats can quickly turn from diet-friendly to decadent. With autumn fast approaching, whip up a caramel apple creation by combining oats and seeds with your choice of milk, one tablespoon of brown sugar, and a dash of cinnamon. In the morning, throw in diced apples, chopped peanuts, and a heaping dose of caramel sauce. Still holding on to summer? Go scrumptious with strawberries and cream. Sub half of the milk for ¼ cup of sweetened condensed milk, and a tablespoon of vanilla extract. In the morning, add sliced strawberries, crushed vanilla wafers, and a dollop of whipped cream.

Those hunting for a true taste of dessert might prefer a double chocolate peanut butter version. Instead of boring old white milk, use the beloved chocolate variety as your mix-in along with a tablespoon of chia seeds. The next morning, add a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter and mini chocolate chips, then stir and devour.

Oatmeal is anything but old-fashioned these days. For busy folks needing a quick meal option that doesn’t come full of empty calories and unnecessary preservatives, overnight oats are the obviously delicious answer to the daily question of what to eat for breakfast.

 

Ashley Wirgau

Ashley Wirgau