Overnight Oats

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Overnight oats are the new big thing in healthy eating. A modern take on porridge, if you are time-poor make a batch a few days in advance, store them in the fridge ready for breakfast, add a few simple toppings to add goodness and crunch and you are ready to go.

The Recipe Ratio for successful Overnight Oats
Use 1 cup of liquid to 1/2 cup of oats. That liquid can be milk; a mixture of milk and fruit juice (the fruit juice becomes the sweetener so you don’t have to use sugar or honey); or a mixture of milk (nut, soy or dairy) and kefir or yogurt.

– If you enjoy a looser spoonable overnight oats mixture, increase the ratio to 1 and a quarter cups of liquid to each 1/2 cup of oats.

–  Leave the oat mixture in the fridge to chill overnight and they will be ready to eat in the morning. Make the overnight oats in a large bowl and decant into small jam or preserve jars (empty Bonne Maman jars are particularly pretty) ready to bring to work.

WHAT QUANTITY OF OATS DO I NEED?
1/2 cup of rolled or porridge oats will make 2 servings for breakfast: make a larger batch if you want to keep it for a few days but remember that if you use dairy products (milk or yogurt), the overnight oats will only last as long as the use-by date on the packet (if the milk or yogurt is sour by day three, so will your overnight oats). Label the jar or bowl with the use-by-date. If you haven’t time to police it, use coconut milk or nut milk instead.

Overnight Oats Recipe Notes

– Add nuts, fresh fruit or toasted coconut just before serving – otherwise they become sludgy. If you are using chia seeds, add them to the oats before adding the liquid and use 1 and a 1/2 cups of liquid to one cup of oats and 1-2 teaspoons of chia seeds as the chia seeds need liquid to expand. Make sure you make the chia overnight oats in a large enough bowl or jar to accommodate their need to swell!

– If you use kefir and/or fruit juice, cover the oats loosely with cling film rather than using a screw-top lid as they ferment and can bubble over if you leave them in the fridge for any length of time. They make the overnight oats taste almost fizzy after a few days but this is fine.

– Unless you are on a low-salt diet, add the tiniest pinch of salt to your oats to make the flavours stand out.

– When you are about to serve the overnight oats, give them a stir to redistribute the liquid, adding more liquid if they have thickened too much.

– To sweeten the oats, add as little sugar as you can get away with, or use fruit juice or honey instead – keep in mind that they may come from a natural source, but they are treated by your body in exactly the same way as refined sugar so keep it to a minimum if you want to cut down on sugar. Adding fruit (chopped apple, pear, orange segments, strained tinned fruit etc) is a better way of sweetening the overnight oats as you are also adding fibre.

Overnight Oats Recipe Suggestions

Toppings
– Toasted nuts (whole or flaked almonds, chopped brazil nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts or peanuts). Toasting nuts releases their oil which brings out their flavour and makes them crunchier. Take a dry frying pan, turn the heat to medium, add the nuts and cook for a few minutes, tossing them so they toast all over. Use warm or leave to cool.

– Toasted coconut – toast grated coconut in a dry pan using the method above for toasting nuts, the coconut is toasted when it is lightly golden.

– Toasted seeds: pumpkin, sunflower or any mix of seeds, toast in a dry pan until lightly golden to make them crunchy and freshen them after they have been in the packet or jar.

– Any fruit works: bananas (mash first and stir into the soaked oats), any soft berry fruits; chopped pineapple, papaya, mango, pomegranate seeds, melon or watermelon. If you want to save money, buy frozen fruit, simmer in a little honey and then add vanilla extract, orange flower water or a tiny drop of almond or orange extract. Make the flavoured fruit the night before and chill in the fridge. Tinned fruit is excellent and convenient – strain it first and only buy the versions in juice rather than syrup (stock up on tinned fruit at the supermarket when they have special offers and whizz it with yogurt for a quick and easy dessert).

CHEAT’S OVERNIGHT GRANOLA RECIPE:
Use your favourite fruit granola instead of porridge oats – you won’t need to add more sugar and it contains fruit and nuts already.

Health benefits of Oats or Porridge
– According to the Mayo Clinic, oats contain soluble fibre which can reduce your LDL or bad cholesterol (if you add prunes, chopped apple or pear to your overnight oats, you will maximise the amount of soluble fibre in your breakfast).

– Try to use standard porridge oats rather than quick-oats which are not as good for you (some of the goodness gets stripped out to make it more convenient to cook in a microwave). Rolled oats are too sturdy to use for overnight oats (they usually come in a tin) and need to be cooked.

This recipe has been triple-tested in the gréatfood test kitchen.

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Photograph copyright foodpixies.com

 

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