At Linked Fit, we are all about making meals simple, easy, delicious, and nutritious!
When thinking of meals that are simple, easy, delicious, and nutritious, there is one meal in particular that comes to mind, overnight oats! This hearty breakfast is sure to pack a punch! Follow along to see how amazing overnight oats are and how quickly they can become a favorite!
Type of Oats:
Quick (Instant): This is the most processed form of oats. They generally have been precooked and dried, which makes them quickest to cook. Since these oats are processed, it does increase their glycemic index. These oats can be found in prepackaged oatmeals with added sugars and flavors or unflavored.
Old Fashion (Rolled Oats): These oats have been flattened and steamed (or lightly toasted). These slightly processed oats are easy and fast to cook. These oats are most commonly used in baking and cooking.
Steel Cut: This is the least processed form of oat, therefore they are the most nutritionally dense. The oat has only been cut 2 or 3 times. However, steel-cut oats do take longer to cook and prepare.
What are Overnight Oats?
Overnight oats are simply another way to prepare "oatmeal" the night before.
Typically oatmeal is prepared by bringing milk (or water) and oats to boil in a saucepan. Once a boil is reached, the heat is reduced to the low setting until the oats absorb the liquid and a personal consistency is reached. Oats can also be made in the microwave, cooking for 1-2 minutes. These two different cooking options will allow your oats to be served hot.
When preparing overnight oats, the oats and milk are combined in a mason jar (or other containers) and placed in the fridge overnight to soak. Over a 4-6 hour period, the oats begin to absorb the milk and create creamy oatmeal that is served cold. Overnight oats typically have a few extra ingredients in conjunction with the main ingredients, this is to aid in the creamy and richness of the oats!
When cooking oats, it is best to use a 1:2 ratio, 1 part oats to 2 parts liquid. Example: 1/2 cup of oats will be added to 1 cup of liquid.
Oats: Old fashion oats work best for overnight oats. They hold up the best and provide the best consistency.
Milk: Dairy or dairy-free.
Sweeter: Honey, maple syrup, agave, or brown sugar. Adds more flavors. (Optional)
Chia Seeds: Add extra nutrients and help to illicit a pudding-like texture to the oats. (Optional)
Greek Yogurt: Added nutrients such as protein, added flavor, and give a creamy texture (Optional)
Vanilla Extract: Additional flavor! (Optional)
Fruits: Fresh, frozen or dried. Jams and sauces (ex: apple sauces) work well too.
Nuts/Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, almonds, pecans, walnuts, or ground flaxseed.
Nut/Seed Butters: Peanut butter, sunflower butter, almond butter, or cashew butter.
Spices: Cinnamon, pumpkin spice, or nutmeg.
Others: Protein powders, chocolate chips, or expresso (coffee).
Step by Step Process:
Place the desired amount of oats into a storage container (or jar) of choice, mason jars are our favorite way to prep overnight oats.
Mix in yogurt and/or chia seeds to the same container. Mix well!
Next add the milk, vanilla extract, and sweetener to the container. Mix well.
Depending on the add-ins, some can be mixed in at this time.
Cover the mixture with an airtight lid and place in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours to overnight.
When 4+ hours have gone by, the oats are ready to be eaten!
Remove lid and add any remaining add-ins right to the container or jar. If made in batch, section out the desired amount of oats and place in a serving bowl with the remainder of add-ins.
Mix together: 1/2 cup of oats, 1/2 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of greek yogurt, 1 tbsp of chia seeds, 1 tsp of vanilla extract
Place in a jar with airtight lid and store in the fridge
Before serving, add 1/4 cup of greek yogurt and additional add-ins
Making the perfect overnight oats parfait!
LF Favorite: Cinnamon Apple Overnight Oats
Hot or cold?
Typically overnight oats are to be enjoyed cold, but they can be warmed up if desired. Simply place the jar of overnight oats in the microwave and cook for 30-60 seconds.
Make sure to add enough milk. Stick to the 1:2 ratio from above, for example, 1/2 cups oats and 1 cup milk.
Water can be used instead of milk.
If you add yogurt, you can get away with less milk. A Linked Fit preference is to actually wait to add most of the yogurt till the oats are about to be eaten. Almost making an overnight parfait, oats, yogurt, add-ins! At the same time a little yogurt mixed in the oats while resting does give more creaminess. Play around with it!
Definitely make sure to use old fashion oats. Quick oats are too refined and will just breakdown further over time bring in the fridge, leaving the overnight oats too liquified. While steel-cut oats have to soak longer, almost 24 hours, and they still come out a bit chewy. Stick to old fashion for a perfect oat each time!
Overnight oats can quickly become unhealthy. Be careful not to overkill the sugary add-ins. Continue to be mindful of the portions and ingredients going into the overnight oats. It helps to stick to plain yogurt and plain milk and use your sweeteners and fruit to give the oats their flavor.
Mix well before eating. This is to help make sure all the oats get some love after being in the fridge all night.
Experiment with new flavor combinations! Get creative, as long as oats and milk are involved, play around with ingredients, textures, and flavors.
Depending on the add-ins, it might be wise to wait and add them toward the end of soaking or right before eating.
Oats are naturally gluten-free, BUT, are contaminated during the processing. If you are celiac or have other gluten-related health issues please purchase certified gluten-free oats!
Overnight oats will hold up to 5 days in the fridge. Although, it is recommended to consume them within 3-4 days for optimal freshness.
Benefits of Oats:
Oats are an excellent source for many nutrients. They are high in fiber, protein, vitamin B1, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, copper, and iron. They are a great source of vitamin B5 and potassium. Oats are rich in beta-glucans and antioxidants!
The antioxidant group knows as avenanthramides are most commonly found in oats. They have both anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Aiding in the protection and risk of developing certain conditions and or diseases.
The soluble fiber knows as beta-glucan helps to decrease LDL, total cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. Beta-gluten promotes the feeling of satiety (fullness) by releasing a satiety hormone. It aids in the production of healthy gut bacteria.
Oats can help keep you feeling full, which is perfect for weight control. By staying full longer, one will hopefully consume less overall calories per day.
Oats are great for digestion, especially after they have been soaked. The starches are broken down which will help the body utilize the oat in a more effective and efficient way. It's also easier for the body to digest which is helpful when it comes to bathroom talk.
Overnight oats are great for meal prepping! They can be easily prepared on a "Sunday" or daily routine. Check out our "Meal Prepping: The Beginners Guide" article. When it comes to meal prepping, overnight oats are the best bang for your buck! The ingredients are relatively inexpensive and the whole process of putting them together takes all of 5 minutes or less. By morning, breakfast is ready to grab and go! Add-ins can also be prepped the night before, the same thing, in the morning just grab and go!
Start the day of right with a delicious breakfast of homemade overnight oats! Reap the all the added benefits and kick the morning intro high gear. Fuel the body for success! Have fun with the incredibly versatile overnight oats and always remember to keep things simple, easy, delicious, and nutritious!