What’s all the fuss about overnight oats? Barbora Ormerod explains…
Few would have pegged oats as a contender for the next big foodie trend. Their association with poverty, animal feed, humdrum breakfasts and an affable bunch of Protestant pilgrims is not exactly glamorous. Yet the popularity of oats has been rising steadily, and they are repeatedly cropping up in trendy restaurants, foodie blogs and the latest recipe books. So why are oats causing such a stir?
Most of the buzz is about overnight oats – that is, oats that are soaked in the evening so they are ready for breakfast the next morning. It’s easy to see why this old technique is catching on again. Preparing a breakfast which is both interesting and nutritious isn’t always easy when you’re hurrying off to work or the school run. Overnight oats require no cooking and produce a pleasant, soft oatmeal that comes without the risk of burning your tongue (or your pan).
Another reason for their current popularity is that oats are suitable for various dietary requirements. They carry none of the stigma associated with wheat, and are generally safe for IBS sufferers and even some coeliacs. Oats are also highly nutritious, containing lots of protein, dietary fibre, minerals and vitamins (especially vitamins b). Their caloric value is relatively low and their fat content tends to hover around 7%. Studies have also shown that, if consumed regularly over several weeks, oats can lower LDL as well as total cholesterol, which may in turn help reduce the risk of heart disease.
So far so good, but the main reason overnight oats have taken off is the ease with which they can be customised, plus the sheer amount of delicious options available. Here are 5 tips to get you started:
- Start with the soaking liquid itself. You can keep it simple and use water, but for extra richness and flavour try using milk, nut milk or even coconut milk.
- Even staple spices can transform this dish. Vanilla or cocoa powder entertain the taste buds and can turn overnight oats into a light pudding. Cinnamon is good at warming you up in the morning, and tends to work very well with stewed fruit. Alternatively, you can go one step further and use mixes like chai spice, apple pie spice or even pumpkin pie spice (perfect with cooked pumpkin puree), depending on the rest of the ingredients.
- Fruit and vegetables bring crunch, flavour and fibre to overnight oats. Grated apple or pear is a classic and delicious addition, but the more adventurous may consider tropical flavours such as mango, persimmon, oranges or kiwi together with spices like ginger and cloves. Bananas are another obvious topper, and work wonders with a little cacao powder and a shot of coffee in the oats. That’ll perk you up in the morning!
- A spoonful of jam or preserve is a quick and easy way to make things more indulgent, especially during the colder months.
- Texture is also important. Put the finishing touches to your overnight oats with some nuts and seeds (nut butter is also great), soaked overnight or added at breakfast time. These add extra protein, which will help keep you fuller for longer.
Whichever version you choose, it’s safe to say that a bowl of oatmeal should never be boring again.
Recipe Suggestion: Bircher Overnight Oats