You know what they say about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. Having a hearty breakfast in the morning helps to break the fasting period after a long night of sleep. It also boosts our energy levels while providing all the essential nutrients to start our day right. That is, of course, if you choose the right breakfast. One of them that fits the category happens to be overnight oats.
What Are Overnight Oats?
As the name suggests, overnight oats refer to oats that are stored overnight in the fridge. Unlike regular oatmeal where you usually cook them with liquid on the stove, overnight oats require no cooking method at all. The process is pretty simple and straightforward: Just add oats into a (glass) jar with the liquid of your choice (typically milk) and other ingredients, close the lid and allow it to rest in the fridge overnight. By the next morning, you will have your nutritious breakfast all ready to eat straight from the jar.
What Are The Differences Between Overnight Oats & Cooked Oats?
While both recipes require adding oats as the main base of the ingredients, they are particularly different in terms of preparation.
- Overnight oats are conveniently prepared in a non-cooking method, meaning you just add whatever is necessary into a jar.
- Cooked oats (oatmeal), on the other hand, is prepared on the stovetop or microwave oven.
- As overnight oats required to be stored in the fridge, they are typically enjoyed cold. But if you prefer to have them warm, you just need to heat it up either in a pot on the stove or microwave oven, with the latter up to 60 seconds.
- Cooked oats are usually enjoyed hot or warm.
- You can’t enjoy overnight oats immediately since they require sufficient time to soften the oats by soaking them in liquid. This helps make the oats more tasty, palatable and digestible.
- Unlike overnight oats, cooked oats require no waiting time. After cooking for around 2-30 minutes (*depending on the type of oats), you can enjoy them right away.
- Overnight oats contain better nutrient absorption due to the method of using uncooked, raw oats soaked in the liquid. The soaking method, according to Livestrong.com, helps reduce phytic acid that prevents your body from absorbing nutrients.
- According to Simply Oatmeal, cooked oats “degrade the amount of available nutrition within the oats”. Even though you still get to enjoy the benefit of eating oats, cooked ones are no match for the nutrient-dense overnight oats.
* Instant oats (2 minutes), rolled oats (10-20 minutes) and steel-cut oats (20-30 minutes).
How To Make Overnight Oats
As mentioned earlier in “What Are Overnight Oats?”, making them is easy. First, grab a jar with a lid (here’s mine, where I bought this from Daiso for just RM5.90) and start adding the ingredients as follows:
Well, no overnight oats would be complete without the very base itself. While you have the freedom to use different types of oats, your best bet would be rolled oats. They have the right texture and chewiness compared to other types of oats.
For overnight oats, you definitely need liquid to soak up and soften the oats. You can add water if you want to but keep in mind it won’t be as delicious as adding milk. It can be any kind of milk regardless of dairy or plant-based variety, with the latter such as almond, coconut or cashew. Depending on your taste preference, the liquid-to-oats ratio can be varied from thicker to thinner consistency.
If you are going to use yoghurt for your overnight oats, make sure you go for the unsweetened variety. That means stick to plain low-fat or if you prefer extra creamy, go for Greek yoghurt. Not only does yoghurt enhance your overnight oats with a nice, tangy flavour but also helps to add a nutritious boost of probiotics, protein and vitamins.
iv) Chia Seeds
In case you dislike the taste of yoghurt, here’s another healthy alternative to help thicken your overnight oats: chia seeds. Packed with lots of nutrients, adding chia seeds help to make your overnight oats creamier.
You need some sweetness for your overnight oats but don’t go for the usual white or brown sugar. Go for something natural instead, namely a liquid sweetener like honey.
Balancing the sweetness of your overnight oats is the key to make them tastier. And above all, you do not want to end up eating overnight oats that taste like cardboard. So, consider adding a pinch of salt since overnight oats require proper seasoning.
This is completely optional. You can top your overnight oats with nuts or fruits, with the latter being either fresh or dried such as berries (e.g. strawberries, blueberries), sliced banana or kiwis. Raisins are a good addition too.
Once you are done and satisfied adding all the ingredients in your jar of overnight oats, remember to close it properly with a lid. Store the jar in the fridge and let it sit overnight to allow every ingredient in your overnight oats to absorb the flavours.
Health Benefits Of Overnight Oats
Remember what I told you about overnight oats being among the right breakfasts packing with all the essential nutrients? Well, they contain plenty of health benefits, namely:
i) They Contain A Good Source Of Fibre
Fibre helps to promote healthy gut bacteria and best of all, it minimises the effect of constipation and prevents other digestive problems such as acid reflux and stomach pain. Consuming overnight oats on a daily or regular basis can increase your fibre intake.
ii) They Help To Reduce Blood Pressure
Previously, I went to a hospital for a medical check-up and found out that I have slightly high blood pressure. I discovered that overnight oats contain soluble fibre, which in turn, helps to lower blood pressure.
iii) They Promote Heart Health
Oats contain beta-glucan a.k.a. dietary fibre, which is beneficial for your heart health. It helps to minimise the risk of coronary heart disease and also lowering the “bad” LDL cholesterol.
iv) They Keep You Full Longer
I’ve been eating overnight oats for months and they did help me to keep me full for a few hours, thanks to the overnight oats’ combination of complex carbs and dietary fibre. Overnight oats also contain a good source of resistant starch, which not only slows down digestion but also suppresses appetite and avoid unnecessary cravings.
Overnight oats aren’t just a healthy breakfast staple. Among the other good things about having them is how customisable you can be with your overnight oats! The choices are endless and here are some of my favourite combinations to try for your overnight oats:
- Applesauce: If you love apple, consider combining your overnight oats with unsweetened applesauce (here’s how you can easily make your own at home). To add some sweetness, you can either include cinnamon or honey. Top with sliced apples (optional, try using Fuji or Pink Lady since I found both of them to have a nice balance of natural sweetness and tartness).
- Blueberries: I love blueberries and they are no doubt a great addition to my overnight oats. Here, I choose to layer them with some blueberry jam (try to find the one with “sugar-free” or “no added colouring/preservatives” such as St. Dalfour Wild Blueberry or Steffi’s Choice Blueberry Jam. This helps to sweeten the overnight oats. Top with a few blueberries for some fruity bites.
- Raisins: Let’s face it, blueberries don’t usually come cheap and I only buy them once in a while. Raisins, on the other hand, where I either purchase Ligo or Sunmaid brands are one of the cheaper alternatives. I use them as toppings since raisins add some bite to my overnight oats. For the milk, I substitute my usual low-fat milk with unsweetened almond milk and sweeten it with a few drizzles of honey.
How I Felt About Eating Overnight Oats For The First Time
When I first learned about overnight oats years ago, the idea of enjoying them cold straight out from the fridge seems unappetising.
So, it took me a long while before I decided to give overnight oats a try, which mostly had to do with re-adjusting my daily diet routine due to my silent reflux (LPR) issue. After reading an article from Healthline.com indicating that foods high in fibre can protect against reflux symptoms with oats happening to be one of them, I gave in.
The first time I tried overnight oats for breakfast, I did feel sceptical about eating cold food, thinking that it might cause stomach discomfort. But to my surprise, not only do the overnight oats actually taste good and comforting, but it also helps to promote my digestive health. So, do give overnight oats a try and who knows, they might be your next must-have breakfast meal every morning.
Also, while preparing your overnight oats, here are some mistakes to avoid!