Pulling an Oat-Nighter: A Guide to Overnight Oats
The hype for overnight oats might seem like a passing trend, but the health benefits (and good habits it establishes!) definitely aren't. At first glance, it could seem like there’s no difference between a hot oatmeal breakfast and oats soaked overnight, but the truth is that the cold soaking process brings a lot to the table. Soaking breaks down starches in oats differently, making them easier to digest for many, and even helps some bodies use the nutrients more efficiently! Overnight oats also do more to help you feel fuller for longer, and can decrease insulin spikes. They’re also a great time-saver, taking less than an hour to prepare several portions for the week.
Of course, most importantly, overnight oats are tasty—if you let them be. Because oats are a blank canvas, there are endless possibilities of soaking liquids, sweeteners, and add-ins. (Psst: You can even go savory!) So what are some of our favorite options?
The base for any good serving of overnight oats is pretty obvious. Fortunately, we make this part simple, by carrying the best rolled oats we’ve found so far: Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats. Rolling the oats flat means they’re eager to soak up all the flavor you’re about to bestow upon them. Steel-cut is fine, but you’ll get a softer, less chewy product out of it, so choose wisely. Of course, we wouldn’t be us if we didn’t give you at least one more option. Purely Elizabeth Superfood Oatmeal combines quick-cooking oats with powerhouse grains like amaranth, hemp, and flax, giving your oats some extra muscle in the wellness department. (Plus it's guaranteed gluten-free!)
This is going to sound strange, but oat milk is a big contender when it comes to overnight oats. “Isn’t that redundant?” you might ask, given that oats are dried when harvested. Maybe, but only if you think about it too hard. Oat milk like Oatly Barista Blend Oat Milk, Elmhurst Milked Oats, and Califia Farms Oat Barista Blend are particularly creamy iterations of the biggest trend in plant milks. The Barista Blends, especially, are a touch higher in fat than their standard counterparts, making for an excellent texture in the finished oats.
Otherwise, favorites include Three Trees Almond Milk for its simplicity, and Ronnybrook Creamline Milk for its incredible quality and flavor. (If you’re feeling really decadent, Five Acre Farms Buttermilk will make overnight oats so creamy and tangy you’ll swear it’s dessert.)
This one’s optional, given that fruit mix-ins are sweet enough for some. (Not optional: Salt. Stir a pinch of salt into either your dry oats or soaking liquid before combining.) You can use cane sugar if you like, mixing it in just as you would the aforementioned salt, but honestly non-liquid sweeteners have a hard time permeating the oats well enough. (Brown sugar isn’t well-suited due to the way it packs together.) We think your best bet will be a good maple syrup, though it’s up to you to choose between the classic stuff or something with a little extra interest. Agave is just as good an option for consistency, as well as date syrup—just make sure those are flavors you really enjoy, because they can be a bit intense. Honey is a little difficult, but if you have the time to heat your soaking liquid on the stove, you can melt the honey right in, along with any spices, like our Korintje Cinnamon or Diaspora Co. Turmeric.
Here’s where things get exciting, because the truth of the matter is that you can add in just about anything, whether you’re in the mood for dried cherries and chopped almonds, a fresh berry medley, or even our savory suggestion of olive oil and black pepper. Some hints there—one of our managers suggests soaking those dried cherries in bourbon for a boozier take, and that berry medley is going to marry particularly well to buttermilk-based overnight oats. As for the savory route, we’d be lying if we didn’t think our Provisions Pantry Olive Oil was the best choice, given its depth of flavor and peppery finish.