I wanted to write a blog post today on one of my favourite recipes – overnight oats. This is not just because they’re great, which they definitely are as well as essential when I have an early start. I wanted to write about them because I feel there is a growing misconception that they can only exist as a super complicated and expensive option.
Overnight oats aren’t a new concept by any means and there are plenty of inspirational recipes around social media and blogs involving superfoods like bee pollen, maca and chia seeds. This is great, except, well, it’s not very realistic.
Don’t get me wrong I love to try and include superfoods in my diet and have even created a recipe for cacao oats in the past, but I don’t always have the time or money to prepare a breakfast fit for Instagram. A friend told me they’d love to have overnight oats as an option but they can’t because they can’t afford to use things like chia seeds.
This is what I wanted to clear up – superfoods are great but they are add-ons, and overnight oats can exist very deliciously and nutritiously without them. Equally, I like to use almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk etc. but sometimes I can’t find the brand I like or I don’t visit that particular shop when buying groceries. Whilst these non-dairy milks are great you don’t necessarily have to use them – more often than not I use water.
So here is my back to the basics recipe for overnight oats! It’s a flexible basic recipe that you can swap in and out with whatever flavours or foods you have to hand. If you don’t like nuts or raisins for example then don’t use them – it still means you’re having overnight oats and a great healthy start to the day.
To make overnight oats all you need is a jar or Tupperware box, ½ a cup of oats, ¾ cup of liquid, and ideally, though not essentially, some goodies to create flavour:
½ Cup of Oats
This is the one essential store bought item I’m afraid, but oats are easy to find and cheap to buy. I personally buy 500g of oats from Lidl for 39p.
¾ Cup of Liquid
This can range from water to cow’s milk to whatever non-dairy milk you prefer. Obviously using a milk brings certain nutritional benefits, but water works just fine too.
TIP: One thing I do a lot is to blend a banana or mango or berries with liquid like I were making a smoothie and then soak the oats in this mixture overnight.
This is where a lot of people really get creative and to amazing results. However, if you don’t have a store cupboard stocked with the likes of bee pollen, cacao or protein powder then fear not. A couple of cheap and delicious goodies include a small handful of raisins, a tablespoon of seeds, some nuts, a tsp nut butter, bananas and cinnamon.
If you really don’t have any of these things to hand then don’t worry as the oats will still work, but these are what gives them a specific flavour.
If in doubt then a half teaspoon of cinnamon is a great simple addition – a 45g jar of ground cinnamon can be bought for roughly one pound and will provide many many servings of overnight oats.
TIP: I sometimes brew Chai tea, though of course other flavours would work I personally love Chai, and then soak the oats in this overnight.
From a nutritional point of view I would say that if you’re having yours post-exercise then it’s great to include some protein to aid recovery – protein powder can be expensive and nut butters and milks do add up if you buy them all the time. Remember that nut butter and milk is made of nuts and you will get the same benefit from a few nuts or seeds in their less glamorous and less expensive raw form and is a great way of adding protein and fibre. For example, 200g of almonds from Lidl is 1.79, this will provide more than a few handfuls to stir into your oats.
Equally, whey protein is made from dairy – so if you want to add some dairy protein but don’t have any then stir in milk or Greek yoghurt.
Hopefully this has shed a little light on how easy overnight oats can be. Whilst I would love to eat the contents of my instragram news feed every day I realistically can’t do that and it is easy to get caught up in the ideas that food can only be healthy when filtered with Amaro! By all means enjoy superfoods and I’m not putting them down for a minute, but don’t feel under pressure to use them.
Enjoying a healthy lifestyle is all about adapting healthy options to what works for you, not changing what works for you according to someone else’s healthy option.