As you peak through your squinted eyes in an attempt to press snooze, you discover you’ve got 15 minutes to shower, dress, and defrost your car. Somehow you are suppose to fit breakfast into that routine… but how? Then, a wave of relief rolls over you as you recall the over night oats sitting in your fridge. Today, breakfast is not worth stressing.
What are overnight oats? They are exactly as they sound- oatmeal created overnight. Simply pour dry whole rolled oats into a jar, add a liquid, protein, perhaps fruit or something crunchy, shake it, and let it sit in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. The liquid will penetrate the oat bran and soak through the grain creating a lightly sweet and soft texture. No need for the stove top!
Overnight oats are not only easy, but also filling, affordable, and versatile. If cold oats are not your jam, just pop them in the microwave for a minute! This balanced breakfast will make your morning routine a breeze.
Let’s break it down by ingredient.
Your milk of choice should completely cover the oats. I repeat, make sure they are submerged! Dry oats will absorb almost all the liquid. There should also be enough liquid to coat all ingredients once mixed. If not, just add a splash more. Less milk makes for a thicker consistency. This may make it too tough though if you plan to eat them hot. If that happens, just add a bit more milk and take note for next time. If allergies aren’t a concern, choose organic soy or cow milk as they contain complete protein compared to alternatives. For a lower calorie option use water or try unsweetened chai tea for some extra spice!
This is an important part of the meal to create a balanced breakfast! Researched shows that starting the day off with protein improves satiety and blood sugar. Nut butters mix well with oatmeal, add tons of flavor and are easy to find. If protein powder is your choice, I recommend cutting back on the oats by 25% and increasing the liquid. The powder, if not dissolved well, may make your oats gritty and even too sweet. Another protein option is yogurt. Using plain is best to decrease added sugar content, however if that is too tart for your taste buds try a flavored Greek style or strained yogurt. Flavored yogurt can serve as a two-for-one, meaning you won't need to add fruit or honey.
If you want a crunch, add a sprinkle of sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds). They can be mixed in or placed on top. Seeds increase both fiber and healthy fats leaving you full longer. Chia seeds can be placed in raw since they will absorb the milk and swell up. Flax seeds work well when ground - since the whole seeds pass right through you.
I almost never make ONO without a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon, a splash of extract, and a dash of salt. Any additional spice will elevate your oatmeal game though. From allspice, cocoa powder, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla extract, or cardamom - endless flavor combinations are possible! If you choose all unsweetened items, add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup for a sweet touch.
Check out the handout for a quick “How -To” Infographic as well as the recipes below for ideas.
Created by Taelin Lanier, RD
A place for our consultant Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to share nutrition science, yummy and healthy recipes, tips on seasonal ingredients, and other nutritional musings. Enjoy!