Overnight oats are my best friend

My last post about the new attitude I’ve developed about bringing lunch vs. buying it got me to thinking about a similar transformation when it comes to breakfast. In case you’re wondering, I won’t do a tour of all the meals. Dinner and I have an uncomplicated relationship and I’ve always been big a fan of desserts and snacks.

For most of my life though, I have not been a breakfast person. They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (they = the moms of the world, as far as I can tell), so my ambivalence has always felt problematic. Don’t misunderstand the scope of my breakfast statement, I am all about brunch. But the early morning, force-it-down-just-to-get-something-in-your-stomach-as-you’re-running-to-school-or-work meal has never held much appeal for me. As you can guess from the last sentence, I have never been much of a morning person, which I’m sure has something to do with it.

I have also gone through some fairly traumatizing breakfast phases – all self-induced, mind you. There was the Banana Phase somewhere around high school and/or early college, during which I ate a banana for breakfast every morning because I had read some magazine article about something bananas did for you that I wanted to achieve. After that phase I couldn’t eat bananas at all for years – I just started enjoying them again within the past year actually. Then there was the South Beach Phase after college when the Jessicas (two friends named Jessica) and I were living together and were on the South Beach Diet (why, god, why?!) During this ill-fated time we made scrambled eggs and turkey bacon for breakfast every single day. Ugh. I could never eat that breakfast again, no matter the monetary reward.

Based on these two examples that I’ve dredged up, it seems my troubles have come in too much repetition with my breakfast. This probably explains why the breakfast routine I have more happily settled on these days is much more varied. I’m still not a morning person though, and am perpetually running late. For a breakfast to make the cut it has to be fast and easy to put together in the bleary-eyed early hours (read: 5-10 minutes to prep and eat). And thus I present to you: Overnight Oats Two Ways and all their glorious variations.

Oats are my best friend in the morning, and they would be yours too if you let them. They are a nutritious blank slate that can be dressed up in a myriad of ways depending on your mood, the season, or what you happen to have in your kitchen. The overnight part is crucial, however, because it is what allows them to also be quick (without using quick or instant oats, which are not worth the effort).


Overnight Oats Two Ways

My definition of overnight oats is that you soak some type of raw oats in some type of liquid overnight and in the morning they can either be eaten raw or after a nominal period of cooking time. Whether or not they need to be cooked depends on which type of oats you use. Check out Food 52 for more overnight oats tips, and Food Riot for more overall tips about how to make superior oatmeal.


Option 1: Raw Rolled Oat Muesli (cold)
Adapted from My New Roots
Makes 1 serving

  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/8-1/4 cup frozen berries (if using fresh add them before serving, see below)
  • 1/4 cup any type of unflavored, unsweetened milk (cow, soy, almond, and even coconut are all delicious!)
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted

The night before you want to eat your muesli (or even a day or two before, really), stir together the oats, chia seeds, frozen berries, and milk. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to eat, top with the toasted coconut.

This recipe can be customized to your heart’s desire. Keep the oats and milk, but other than that you can mix in anything you want. I personally love the chia seeds, so I always keep them in, too. Use any kind of fruit you can think of, though. I’ve used berries, stone fruit, apples, and pears. If using frozen fruit, soak it with the muesli as instructed above. If using fresh fruit, simply top the muesli with it when ready to eat. You can also use different toppings. I’ve replaced the coconut with various types of nuts. I’ve also topped it with fruit compote. Last but not least, I have recently taken to leaving out the chia seeds and topping the plain muesli with chia fruit jam and coconut whipped cream a la this recipe from Cookie and Kate (hint: this variation is heavenly). So, in summary, go wild!

steel cut oats

Option 2: Steel-Cut Oat Porridge (warm)
Adapted from The Food52 Cookbook and Food Riot
Makes 2-3 servings, depending on how much you like to eat for breakfast

  • 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup water or milk (or even whey from draining yogurt!)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter (almond, peanut, or sunflower are all delicious)
  • 1 teaspoon honey

The night before you want to eat your porridge, stir the oats and 1 cup water together in a saucepan. Cover and leave to soak overnight. I usually just soak the oats on the counter, but you can put them in the fridge if you’d like.

In the morning, add the additional 1/2 cup of liquid and a pinch of salt to the pan and cook over medium heat for 7-10 minutes. I tend to favor a shorter cooking time because I like my steel-cut oats to still have a little pop when I eat them. When the oats are done cooking, serve with nut butter and honey stirred in.

There are many variations on this one, too. In addition to varying the cooking liquid and nut butter, feel free to vary the sweetener (maple syrup is always a winner). Or mix up the toppings: chopped nuts instead of nut butter, fresh or dried fruit, etc. The jam and coconut whipped cream combo works here as well!



Filed under Breakfast

4 responses to “Overnight oats are my best friend

  1. Anne

    I like the idea of Chia seeds! I do a modified version of this. I make muesli with oats, coconut flakes, almonds, dates and pumpkin seeds. I pour milk over it as soon as I get up and then eat it 30 minutes later. My boyfriend likes to let his sit for a couple hours. I’m going to suggest he let his soak overnight.

    • Thanks for that combination, Anne, I’m going to try it! Chia seeds are awesome and I find they give the muesli mixture a nice cohesiveness (since they sort of gel up in the liquid).

  2. David

    I love your pictures!!!! 🙂

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