It’s no secret that adding breakfast to your daily routine is part of a healthy diet. Not only will it fill you up, but it will also boost your energy level, set you up for a better eating pattern and enhance your productivity throughout the day. It’s even been shown to help with better weight management over extended periods of time. Whether you’re always in a rush to get out the door or you’re someone who prefers to ease into the day without spending too much time in the kitchen, overnight oats are the perfect solution. And, just in time for warmer weather, you’ll get all of the goodness you love about hot oatmeal without having to turn on the stove. Overnight oats are super-easy to prepare, portable, inexpensive and a delicious way to get your day off on the right foot.
Think of these overnight oats as a creamy blank canvas on which you can customize to your heart’s content. Use the below suggestions as a guideline to conjure up your own tasty concoctions!
Any jar or container can play host to your oats. I personally prefer half-pint Mason jars for some portion control: They help me avoid overeating my oats.
I like to mix oats* with half a banana and 1 teaspoon of chia seeds. I’ve found that the banana acts as a natural sweetener for the mixture, leaving just enough room for further sweetening in the morning if need be. Chia seeds help to thicken the overall texture to an almost pudding-like consistency. They also provide an excellent nutritional boost, as they are a great source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and protein.
* Old-fashioned rolled oats work best in this application. Instant oats become too mushy, and steel-cut oats remain crunchy even after a day of sitting.
Dairy or non-dairy (almond, cashew, coconut, etc.) will all work just fine. I recommend getting plain or unsweetened flavors so that you have full control over the sweetness level.
If you are new to overnight oats, start with 1 part rolled oats to 1 part cold liquid. Then experiment according to your desired consistency, adding more liquid if you like the mixture thinner. When adding yogurt into the mix, start with a 1:1:1 ratio of oats to milk to yogurt.
Keep in mind that chia seeds or any other dry ingredient that you decide to add will soak up some liquid and it will need to be adjusted accordingly.
Fruit (fresh or dried), nuts, nut butters, seeds, protein powder, granola, coconut, spices (e.g., cinnamon), citrus zest and vanilla extract will take your oats to the next level. Get creative and have fun, as the possibilities are endless! Any ingredient that you want to be hydrated can be added in advance along with the oats for soaking.
You needn’t limit this recipe to breakfast. Overnight oats make for a great snack, pre- or post-workout fuel and even dessert!
Here are some flavorful combinations to help you get started:
Blueberries + pecans + honey
Coconut flakes + almonds + lemon zest
Apples + cinnamon + maple syrup
Peanut butter + banana
The mixture will keep for up to two days — if you don’t add the banana, up to four days. However, once you are experienced, you’ll have no problem whipping up another batch midweek if needed!
Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Active Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: Refrigerate overnight or at least 5 hours
1/3 to 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 to 1/2 cup liquid of choice
1/3 to 1/2 cup yogurt (optional)
1/2 banana, mashed (optional)
1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional but highly recommended)
Toppings of choice
1. Add the desired base ingredients to a jar or other container and give them a good stir. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 5 hours.
2. In the morning, add additional liquid if you’d like. Once you achieve the desired consistency, add any toppings that you have on hand.
Nutrition information per serving (calculated based on 1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 teaspoon chia seeds and 1/2 medium banana):
Calories 190; Total Fat 4 g; Saturated fat 0 g; Sodium 62 mg; Total Carbohydrates 34 g; Fiber 6 g; Sugars 8 g; Protein 6 g
Nutrition will vary depending on the toppings of choice.
Min Kwon, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian who specializes in food sensitivities. She has a passion for translating the science of nutrition into real-life, applicable advice and tips. In her healthy food blog, The Adventures of MJ and Hungryman, she focuses on sharing simple yet healthy recipes made from wholesome, REAL foods.