Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet nobody has "time" for breakfast. As someone who couldn't leave the house in the morning without breakfast, somehow I find time to have breakfast.
But even I would like to find an easier way to get what I need before leaving the house.
Overnight oatmeal is something I knew existed but was a bit cynical as to whether the overnight version could taste like oatmeal. Oatmeal is a great way to start the day, but cooking oatmeal when very tired did not appeal to me.
The premise, for those who are unfamiliar with overnight oatmeal, is that the rolled oats soak up the milk overnight so you have oatmeal ready to go in the morning. You could even take the jar with you on the commute or even starting eating the oatmeal if you get stuck in traffic.
I don't deal with traffic in the traditional sense, but if I had a rough morning, the idea of a portable breakfast had some strong appeal.
At my day job, I got a chance to try overnight oatmeal. The rolled oats and vanilla soy milk were enhanced by dried cranberries and slivered almonds. The mixture was satisfying, feeling more like I was eating granola in milk but a lot less sweet. This could be breakfast.
Long-time readers are wondering: you have a standard atypical breakfast that has worked for you. Why would you change something that is working?
Change was in the air for a number of reasons, so changing breakfast had more appeal. Plus the plan was to push the non-traditional breakfast to a later timeslot in the day.
So how do you perform the magic that is overnight oatmeal?
- Find a glass jar. Start with a 1:1 ratio of rolled oats to liquid of choice. Use whatever ingredients you want. For foods that might get soggy, feel free to add those in the morning.
- Combine ingredients; shake heartily. Put in refrigerator. Go to sleep.
The first night, I combined the ingredients, starting with rolled oats and whole cow's milk. Followed the instructions. Woke up the next morning eager to see what refrigerator magic had happened.
8 hours in the refrigerator should have been enough time for overnight oatmeal magic. My first attempt had a lot of milk remaining in the glass jar. The oats weren't crunchy but were very chewy. This smelled like oatmeal but didn't taste like what I had expected.
I bought the oats from the farmers market and kept them in the refrigerator, as instructed. I had used a 1:1 ratio.
If you watch enough food television, you might think everything happens perfectly. That is television. My first attempt was not perfect, but within the realm of possibility.
Trying something new in food doesn't require perfection but learning how to adjust for the next time. I decided that 8 hours wasn't enough for these oats, so I would try 11 hours on the second night.
11 hours was a lot better than 8 hours. I did find on some nights with more than 8 hours, I still had too much milk. None of the batches so far truly feels like oatmeal, but the contents of the glass jar get devoured each morning.
You do have to remember to do the overnight oatmeal before you go out for the evening. You do save time in the morning, but you have to spend some time at night.
You can leave the oatmeal in for longer if that is more convenient, but as we've seen, your mileage may vary.
I add a little maple sugar and some cinnamon that enhance the taste. Chia seeds can help soak up more liquid if you run into the same trouble. Your overnight oatmeal options are endless.
If you want traditional oatmeal, you can cook the oatmeal at night and reheat in the microwave oven in the morning. But overnight oatmeal is a lot easier with no stove requirement. You just have to change your definition of oatmeal and breakfast.
photos credit: me