You probably know by now that I eat overnight oats a lot. In fact, I just created a separate category on my recipe page for my overnight oats creations.
It’s gotten slightly out of hand.
Tom doesn’t quite share in my obsession. To him, my bowls are little more than sludge…or goop.
And you know what? He’s not far off; that pretty much describes overnight oats exactly–and it’s also why I am obsessed. :)
Yeah, I eat sludge. So?
I have gotten a fair amount of questions about overnight oats, but it wasn’t until reading posts by the lovely Chelsey and Clare on their overnight oats methods–and realizing that “overnight oats” means different things for different people–that I decided to offer a bit of a tutorial of my own.
It was a revelation to me to learn that some people actually cook their oats before putting them in the fridge overnight. I had no idea! While I’m sure the results are fluffy and magical, I personally like that overnights oats require no pan. Call me lazy, but I don’t like doing unnecessary dishes. For me, that’s the beauty of sludge.
That, and you get a delicious, mushy-yet-textured breakfast (not to mention reap the nutritional benefits of eating raw, soaked oats).
However you make ‘em, I think we can all agree: overnight oats = out of this world.
Okay, maybe Tom doesn’t agree. (Yet!)
So. Without further ado, I offer you my foolproof method for great goop. Inevitably, it involves a lot of room for variation–another reason I’m rarely bored of overnight oats. No two bowls are alike! (Unless you want them to be, of course.)
Note: If you’re already an overnight oats connoisseur, I grant you permission to skip this introductory course.
Bowl + banana (half or whole)
The banana is totally optional. If you do skip, however, I would recommend using an alternative sweetener (see below).
Mash said banana (if using)
Sliced banana works, too; I just like the flavor/texture mixed in.
Add 1/2 cup oats (not an optional step–although you could try oat bran or an alternative grain)
If you’re a gluten-free eater, be sure to buy gluten-free oats!
Add 1/2 cup nondairy milk
Almond milk, soy milk, hemp milk, hazelnut milk, oat milk, rice milk, etc., etc. You can also get flavored milks to shake things up (I heart unsweetened vanilla almond milk).
And that’s it!
But we’re not quite done yet. Now for the fun part: mix-ins.
All of which are, of course, optional (although having at least some mix-ins is highly recommended!).
Nuts/Seeds + Dried Fruit
Pictured: raisins, almonds, walnut pieces, dried tart cherries.
Other possibilities include hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, apricots, goji berries, golden raisins, dried cranberries, dried apples…or none of the above!
I usually kick up the nutrition and texture with either hemp seeds (easily digestible protein!), chia seeds (healthy fats, hydration), or ground flaxseed (healthy fats, fiber). For more on their nutritional benefits, head on over to my ingredients page. I add anywhere from just a sprinkle to a tablespoon of whichever seed I’m feeling.
And for the record, hemp seeds taste great. Don’t fear hemp! They’re sweet and nutty–and, in oats, you won’t be able to taste them anyway!
Note: When I add chia seeds, I splash in some extra liquid, as they soak up a lot!
Often I’ll hit up my spice cupboard for cinnamon, because cinnamon spice makes everything nice! If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll go with a titch of nutmeg, ginger, or my favorite: pumpkin pie spice.
Other times, I’ll skip this step.
Usually, I sweeten simply with a banana–and I find I don’t need anything else. If you’re not a banana lover, however, or you have a huge sweet tooth, I would also recommend a few drops of liquid stevia; a drizzle of agave, maple, or brown rice syrup; blackstrap molassas (as seen here); chopped up dates (or other dried fruit); or, of course, fresh fruit.
No need for sugar. Seriously.
The obvious way to kick up flavor: extracts: vanilla, almond, coconut, cocoa bean…you name it!
But you certainly don’t need extracts to take things up a notch. Try adding cocoa powder, peanut flour (I highly recommend!), unsweetened shredded coconut, coconut flakes, coconut flour, carob powder or chips, chocolate chips, raw cacoa nibs…or even lemons!
Protein/supplement powders are a great way to bulk up your sludge while providing a great flavor. When I use protein powder, I often go easy on the mix-ins.
Saturday’s PB & Strawberry Jam Protein Oats
Lemon Poppy/Chia Seed Overnight Oats
Peanut Butter Cup Overnight Oats (version 3)
Green Monster Overnight Oats
You get the idea…
Fresh or Frozen Fruit
When I add fresh fruit (berries, cherries, bananas…even apples), I usually do so in the morning right before I eat (although sometimes it goes into the mix the night before).
Frozen fruit happens to be tasty mixed in so it becomes all melty and good overnight. Don’t knock it ’til you try it!
Oats on your oats? Yes indeed! If you like more a crunch in the morning, sprinkle granola on your overnight oats before you dig in.
Such as spinach. Yep, it happened.
And I realize that technically butternut squash and pumpkin are both fruit, but in my head they’re veggies. Which make for great overnight oat dishes, as you may remember here and here.
In fact, here’s a recent (read: out-of-season) bowl of butternut squash bowl topped with a new-to-me pecan butter.
The nut butter? Artisana Raw Pecan Butter with Cashews
Speaking of which (and last, but not least)…
I top nearly all my bowls of sludge with a tablespoon blob of nut/seed butter. Peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter, pecan butter, walnut butter, etc., etc. It’s my personal favorite topping.
I even splurge sometimes with a bit of flavored nut butter, such as Justin’s Chocolate Almond Butter (as seen here) or PB&Co.’s Dark Chocolate Dreams (on this bowl). Or even cinnamon-raisin peanut butter (on this creation). Just sayin’. You probably wouldn’t regret it.
So let’s get to an example. Take yesterday’s bowl.
I started with a mashed banana, 1/2 cup oats, and 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk.
Then, I added a few walnuts, a mix of flaxseed, hemp, and chia seeds, lots of cinnamon, a sprinkle of raw cacoa nibs, and a blob of sunflower seed butter.
I stored in the fridge overnight.
Note: they maybe called overnight oats, but you can create them any time of day–just make sure they spend at least 2-3 hours in the fridge.
And in the morning…
A no-prep breakfast? Love.
Oh–I almost forgot to mention! Overnight Oats In A Jar (OOIAJ) is a very fun and portable way to enjoy goop (as you may have seen here, here, and here). Do it.
Sludge: Yay or nay?
What are your three favorite mix-ins?
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever added to overnight oats?