While You Were Sleeping

Overnight oats strike that perfect, elusive balance between easy, healthy and delicious

overnight-oats

A JAR OF GOODNESS AN OVERNIGHT OAT CONCOCTION WITH FIGS, PUMPKIN SEEDS AND BANANAS. Courtesy iStock

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as everyone knows, but it’s often the most frantic—and the most frequently skipped. Snooze the alarm one too many times, and you have to grab a granola bar on your way out the door, not the best way to start the day. Overnight oats are a great solution for a meal that’s not only healthy but quick and dead simple to prepare. Best of all, they’re portable, so you can take them to work or send them off to school with the kids. Jenna Berrios, owner of Denver’s Prosperoats, offers us some pro tips on how to concoct the perfect serving.

What is the appeal of overnight oats?
Someone who’s never tried overnight oats might be weirded out by the temperature, at first—cold oats are slightly counterintuitive— but the texture is wonderful, and they’re so refreshing and filling. It’s a great breakfast option, especially in the warmer months. Best of all, they’re easy to throw together. They do require a little skill—there’s definitely an art to getting the right texture and the right level of sweetness. Anybody can do it, but you need some practice.

How do you make the base?
The base, most of the time, is a traditional rolled-oat cereal, which you can buy in any grocery store, plus sweetener, spice (optional) and milk or milk alternative. At Prosperoats, we stick to non-dairy milk because it lasts 10 to 14 days in the fridge. We use either coconut or almond milk, but dairy milk will also work. Experiment to find what you like.

What about add-ins?
You can experiment with pretty much anything you want: fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, whatever. Go savory, go sweet or go for a combination of both—anything you’re craving. Add-ins are usually tastiest when they’re fresh, so complete this step in the morning, after the base has chilled overnight. As a rule, anything that you would put on normal oatmeal will work on overnight oats.

What kind of sweetener is best?
We steer clear of refined sugar. We mostly default to either honey or agave, but we also have some really good recipes that use maple syrup or coconut sugar. These are all higher on the glycemic index—it takes your body longer to break them down, so they’re not as damaging as refined white sugar.

Any tips for avoiding common mistakes?
Neglecting to add a little bit of salt, even to sweet oats, is a mistake. A tiny bit brings out all the particular flavors of the oats.

QUICK AND EASY OVERNIGHT OATS
INGREDIENTS
½ cup dry rolled-oat cereal
1 cup dairy milk or milk alternative (rice, coconut, almond, hemp, etc.)
A pinch of salt
A pinch of spice (cinnamon, cardamom, cocoa powder, etc.; optional)
1-3 tsp. sweetener, to taste (honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc.)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a Mason jar (or any resealable container) and stir. Seal the container and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, stir again and add more liquid if needed. Top with desired add-ins.

OPTIONAL ADD-INS Fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, nut butter, jam, protein powder, granola, shaved coconut, cocoa nibs, seeds—pumpkin, flax, chia, etc. (For a thicker texture, add chia seeds the night before.)

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