A healthy breakfast is the best way to fuel your day. That’s why overnight oatmeal has become an overnight sensation (and one of my favorite morning pick-me-ups and sources of complex carbohydrates).
Today, we’re talking about all things overnight oats and sharing tips for creating this healthy breakfast. The best part of overnight oats is that they can be made any which way you please, from adding dried fruits and nuts to incorporating berries and chia seeds.
What are overnight oats?
Overnight oats benefit the body in the same way that old-fashioned oatmeal did. They support functional digestion, a healthy gut, and a whole lot more. Making traditional oatmeal each morning can take more time than a lot of us have, which is why prepping breakfast in advance has become so popular.
Overnight oats are basically oats you don’t have to cook. Where cooking oats is necessary for softening rolled oats, overnight oats require no heat at all. Instead, they’re steeped in your preferred milk or milk alternative for six to eight hours, which produces the same chewy result as cooking does. Prepping the oats at night and letting them sit while you sleep means your breakfast is ready to go when morning comes — making you ready to head out the door.
How do you make overnight oats?
If you’re wondering how to make overnight oats, worry not: The process is incredibly simple. Better still, those who like to meal prep for a full week in advance will be happy to know that overnight oats can be made in batches. To put together this easy breakfast for the first time, you’ll need two ingredients: steel-cut oats or quick oats and one cup milk or dairy-free milk — almond milk, oat milk, and coconut milk all work just fine. If you’re low on milk, you can substitute with water (exactly like you would if cooking oatmeal on the stove).
You’ll also want to pick up some fun add-ins and toppings for your overnight oats. Oats are already rich in fiber and nutrients, but protein powders, seeds, and nuts like pecans are a great way to boost the health factor. Thoughtful add-ins can help keep you energized and focused on even the busiest days. If you prefer a bit of sweetness, consider natural sweeteners like maple syrup or honey instead of brown sugar or table sugar. Personally, I love mine with one teaspoon vanilla extract. Since overnight oats are easy to batch and prep, you’ll want several different recipes on hand to keep things exciting. Greek yogurt, berries, or a nut butter like peanut butter or almond butter add instant oomph.
Prepping the Best Overnight Oats Ever
Once you’ve collected your ingredients for the base recipe and your favorite toppings, putting your overnight oats together is easy.
- In separate vessels, measure one part milk and one part old-fashioned oats.
- Mix oats in mason jar or cup with dry ingredients, if any (chia seeds, flax seeds, or hemp seeds, for example).
- If adding yogurt or sweeteners, gently stir them in.
- Pour cup of milk or milk alternative (cashew milk or unsweetened almond milk, for example) into mason jar or cup with all other ingredients, and mix together until smooth.
- Cover with lid and refrigerate.
Your overnight oats will be ready to eat after two hours of chilling, but a longer chilling time will perfect their texture. When your oats are ready, top them with your favorite add-ins. Coconut flakes, fresh fruit like blueberries and raspberries, or a spoonful of dark chocolate chips are tasty choices. As a finishing touch, add a pinch of salt. It helps to bring out the individual flavors of each ingredient in your oatmeal.
What are the benefits of eating overnight oats?
Among breakfast ideas, there are a lot of reasons to make overnight oats your go-to. Here are just a few of the benefits of adding overnight oatmeal recipes to your diet.
They’re quick and easy
While oatmeal is a yummy and inexpensive option for a healthy breakfast, it can be time-consuming to make and impossible to prepare in advance. For busy mornings at work, or the days when you’re doing school drop-off or sitting the grandkids, you’ll want a recipe that doesn’t require extra prep time. That’s why this no-cook, make-ahead breakfast is the perfect option. You can prepare them in advance and you can batch prep them. (In most cases, overnight oats will last about five days in the fridge before you notice a change in texture or the separation of ingredients.) And, of course, they’re packed with satisfying complex carbs that will keep you full and fueled all morning long.
They’re rich in protein
Gluten-free oats are a good source of protein, which is just one of several reasons why oatmeal is a quality morning dish. In fact, oats offer up more protein than any other grain, helping you feel energized and ready to take on the day. Overnight oats mix well with ingredients that also have high protein, like protein powders and nuts, so if you’re worried about getting enough protein throughout the day, this is a yummy, protein-packed recipe you should always have on hand.
A high-fiber diet helps protect and support the digestive system, and it helps soothe uncomfortable digestive complications. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t get enough fiber in their diets. Regularly eating oat dishes like overnight oats can help you to meet the FDA’s recommended daily fiber intake. Fiber also helps give you that full, satisfied feeling after you eat, which helps curb hunger and stave off cravings.
They have nutrients and antioxidants
Antioxidants help to protect our bodies against what are known as free radicals, which may contribute to conditions like heart disease and certain cancers. Not only do oats support our bodies, but they also deliver many other essential nutrients and vitamins that our bodies need to perform their best every day. These include vitamins like manganese, calcium, iron, zinc, and the B vitamins that help us produce energy. If you notice you’re more alert after adding overnight oats to your diet, that’s why.
Add to this the many vitamins and nutrients in your favorite overnight oat add-ins. Fruits, for example, can be rich in vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin A, while many nuts and seeds contain E and B vitamins, iron, and potassium. To customize your overnight oats according to your health needs, select the toppings and mix-ins that will provide the greatest benefit to you.
They support a healthy weight
On their own, overnight oats won’t help you to lose weight. What they will do, however, is serve as a healthy and filling alternative to unhealthy breakfasts that lack nutrients and don’t fill you up for long. Overnight oats are rich in fiber, so you’ll have a sense of fullness until it’s time for the next meal, which helps to prevent between-meal snacking; B vitamins mean more energy, which reduces the need for pick-me-ups like candy, soda, or fancy coffee drinks; and because overnight oats can be customized to fit your taste, eating healthy won’t feel like a sacrifice. (Click through to learn more on why raw oats have the nutritional advantage over cooked oatmeal.)
Say “good morning” to good health
There’s a reason that overnight oats are so popular. They boast numerous health benefits, they’re easy to make, they don’t require an extensive meal plan, and they can be eaten on the go. When the time comes to whip up your next batch of overnight oats, consider the different non-dairy milk options, sweeteners, seeds, and nuts you want to add in to really make it your own. Top with fruits, coconut flakes, or chocolate chips when it’s ready the next morning, and enjoy a nutritious breakfast in no time at all.