Quick Back-to-School Breakfasts: The Glory of Overnight Oats

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We don't even have kids nor do we have anyone in the house that is going "back to school," and yet the energy of this time of year is infectious. There is an upsurge in traffic at certain times of the day, office supply stores are swamped, and late afternoon grocery store trips become more of a hassle than usual. I think the back to school hustle and bustle affects us all, no? I notice the morning light beginning to change, and for some reason breakfast can start to seem like more and more of a challenge or chore. But then you remember overnight oats.

Now, not everyone likes oatmeal. And I get that. But oatmeal can be so, so delicious and toothsome if done well. Plus, it's a great vehicle for any special milks (almond milk or coconut milk), nuts and seeds, dried or fresh fruits or even savory toppings like herbs, shredded cheese or roasted veggies. Let's face it: oatmeal can save the day on busy fall mornings.

I think a lot of people don't consider stovetop oats to be a typical weekday breakfast because they do take more time than, say, a bowl of cold cereal. But what about overnight oats? Have you gotten behind these yet? In short, overnight oats are essentially rolled oats that you refrigerate in the liquid of your choice overnight which softens them, making them easy to digest and giving a healthy breakfast a fighting chance first thing in the morning.

The one sometimes-tough selling point is that the oatmeal is meant to be enjoyed cold, and for some that can take a little getting used to. But it didn't take me long to fall in love. I top mine with a bit of almond milk, my favorite jam and chopped hazelnuts and almonds.

Quick Things to Ponder:

  • Soaking Liquid: While recipes will vary, I usually use a formula for 1 part oats to 1 part soaking liquid when I make overnight oats. And the soaking liquid is really up to you. Water is quick and easy although I find almond milk really delicious — and below you'll find the link to a version that relies on orange juice. The options are endless!
  • Add-Ins: As I mentioned above, add-ins are the best part of morning oats. This is the time to break out your favorite nuts, use up some leftover jam, stir in a little yogurt or ricotta if you'd like — and of course, honey or maple syrup is always delicious.
  • Time: While most recipes call this preparation "overnight" oats, you can actually make these in two hours if you're up early and want a cool, morning treat. The oats will soften within a few hours. On the flip side though, you can double (or triple) a recipe and keep it refrigerated up to 5 days for quick breakfasting all week long.
  • Temperature: Yes, they're meant to be eaten cold. Could you heat them up? Sure. There are a lot of nutritional theories about why they're best eaten cold and why it's better for digestion, but I'm of the mindset that you should do what makes you the happiest in the morning and what allows you the best chance to prepare a healthy breakfast.
Try a Recipe: Orange and Vanilla Overnight Oats - Green Kitchen Stories

(Images: Faith Durand)

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