There’s a reason “overnight oats” is perched high on the healthy breakfast ranking chart. It takes less than five minutes to make, is easily modified, and great for most special diets.
Here’re the basics of overnight oats: Pour old-fashioned oats (not instant) into a container with a milk of your choice until the liquid covers the oats. Add nuts, berries or spices to taste. Mix it together, pop a lid on top, and stick in the fridge. Go to bed.
Whenever you wake the next morning, the oats will be ready to eat. Eat them straight out of the fridge, or heat them up for a minute in the microwave. A lot of people top with fresh fruit or a swirl of sweetener, but it’s not necessary.
Here are ten easy add-ins to get you started.
1. Cocoa Powder
Stir in a tablespoon of cocoa powder and a serving of raspberries (fresh, frozen or jam) and you have a chocolate-berry breakfast cereal. (Pinterest types like to layer the oats and the raspberry to create a lovely stripe effect.)
2. Banana & Peanut Butter
Banana and peanut butter are two of the most popular additions to overnight oats, and appear in hundreds of different recipes, but we’re suggesting them together for those who loved peanut butter-banana sandwiches in primary school and never get to eat them anymore.
If you don’t like the brown banana effect, definitely cut the banana on top of the oats in the AM instead of mixing it in the night before.
Overnight oats and coffee are a perfect combo that some people enjoy even better when they’re mixed. Use half the milk that you’d usually use, and for the rest of the liquid, brewed coffee or a couple of shots of espresso. Also, a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder. Voila! Mocha breakfast. If this is weird to you chilled, microwave it for a minute.
4. Coconut Breakfast Pudding
The addition of coconut milk and mixed berries (strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, etc.) turns overnight oats into a breakfast pudding, which some people make even more decadent by topping with coconut whipped cream.
5. Greek Yogurt
Another rich and creamy variation is to mix oats with Greek yogurt (try vanilla!) instead of liquid. Add almonds or cashews for nutty texture. Drizzle honey on top before digging in if you used unsweetened yogurt. If you used vanilla, probably skip the extra sweetener.
6. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit plumps up deliciously in an overnight milk bath, so you can go wild with the choices. Faves include cut-up apricots and cherries. Sprinkle pecans on top for added crunch.
7. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a magic ingredient, as far as clean-eating types are concerned. These black-brownish little seeds contain loads of omega-3 fatty acids, and one ounce contains 10 grams of fiber. Soaked in oats and nut milk overnight, they absorb liquid and puff up to look similar to tapioca (just darker in coloring).
8. Maple & Nut Butter
For all the maple lovers in the house — yes, of course, maple syrup is sublime in the mix. Together with nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew), which it’s better you mix only partway, leaving it swirled like ice cream. Sprinkle flaxseed meal on top, to remind yourself that this is a healthy breakfast.
9. Chopped Dates
We don’t use dates enough in the U.S., and that should change because they’re delightful. Chop a few of them (fine, not large chunks), blend with almond milk, and top with shredded coconut and slivered almonds in the morning. Welcome to the Casbah.
10. Pumpkin Spice
Just because Starbucks has put away its holiday flavors doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your #PSL – here’s one for all you pumpkin spice fanatics. Blend in pureed pumpkin (from a can is fine), unsweetened yogurt, and gingerbread or pumpkin pie spice mix. Throw some pecans on top, and you’ve got a breakfast that can double as pie filling.