As a busy working mother of two children and a rambunctious toddler, I tend to prefer simple meals that can pass as another meal in the day. This helps me streamline my meal planning and also allows for a bit of meal juggling when the constant unpredictabilities of parenthood strike. Some days are a struggle (understatement) and my lunch meal plan goes out the window along with the lunchboxes and ingredients my toddler feels so intent on launching out of any open door or window (or down the toilet). Apparently this is payback for removing him from his dance party on the dining room table for the fiftieth time since 5am. It is now only 6:30am. Insert eyeroll and the sound of my face hitting the kitchen bench.
These overnight oats have saved me many mornings while either feeding my hungry kids breakfast or packing healthy lunches. These oats need to be made the night before, but are very quick to put together and, once made, will store well in the fridge for several days. The oats don’t need to be cooked either!
Another added bonus to these oats is the fermentation process which happens as they sit overnight in the yogurt and milk mixture. Fermenting grains is a very traditional food practice which is important in creating a more digestible and nutritious food with a nicer texture. Bacteria and wild yeasts play a vital role in unlocking the nutrients in grains and seeds while also helping to remove some of the antinutrients. To put it briefly, anti-nutrients, such as phytates, lectins and saponins, not only stop the grains and seeds from randomly sprouting, but also compromise our ability to absorb some of the essential minerals and amino acids.
Our clever little microbial friends that are present in the yogurt, along with the time in the fridge, help kickstart the fermentation process. The end result is more nutritious and delicious oats, which can be kept in the fridge for a few days and used as needed over that time.
These oats are delicious on their own, but go well with many different toppings and add ins. This basic recipe can be adapted to suit your favourite ingredients and flavours. I often top them with frozen berries, or fresh berries when in season. Stewed fruit and granola or muesli are also delicious on top. Feijoas are coming back into season soon, and that is my favourite topping! Feel free to share any great variations you come up with.
Basic Overnight Oats (+Dairy Free Variation)
2+ servings, depending on how much your little ones eat!
1 cup whole rolled oats or quick oats
1 cup unsweetened milk of choice (dairy or non-dairy)
½ cup yogurt (dairy or coconut cream yogurt)
1 TBLS honey or maple syrup or ½ mashed banana
1 TBLS chia seeds or ground flax meal
A handful of sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seeds (optional)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Optional add ins:
1 TBLS cocoa powder
Place all of the ingredients into a container with a fitted lid and mix well to combine. Attach lid and place in fridge for 12 hours. After this time, stir well and serve into bowls or leak-proof lunch containers. Top with your favourite berries or topping. The basic overnight oat mix can be stored for 3-5 days in the fridge.
Toasted seeds or nuts
Handful of Granola
Stewed fruit & mixed spice
Tinned pear or apricots
Sliced banana & nut butter or tahini
Chopped pineapple or mango
Berries – fresh or frozen
Some other great meals from my blog which can double as other meals: