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Dreamy Overnight Oats: A Breakfast Easy As Plain Old Toast

Photo © Vladislav Nosick

When it comes to quick, healthy, kid-friendly breakfasts, it’s hard to top overnight oats: Mix equal parts raw rolled whole oats (not quick oats) and liquid in a jar with your chosen seasonings, refrigerate overnight, and voilà! The result is a surprisingly creamy porridge that’s budget-conscious but feels très gourmet. Bonus: It takes 10 seconds to dish up, making it the perfect get-out-the-door-quick food.

Here’s how you make the magic happen:

1. Start with a lidded jar.

Mason jars are great if you have them on hand, but you can also use an empty peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, applesauce, or jam jar.

2. Add equal parts rolled oats and a liquid.

Try 1 cup oats and 1 cup coconut milk. You can also use regular milk, almond or soy milk, juice, or yogurt (when experimenting with yogurt, start with a 1:1:1 ratio of oats to milk to yogurt). There’s a pleasing wee bit of bite that remains in the oats if you used the rolled variety as suggested; steel-cut oats will yield a significant chew. For a naturally nutty flavor boost, try toasting your oats in a dry pan before adding them. Cook’s note: Skimp on the liquid and you’ll end up with something akin to thick paper pulp; add too much and it will taste fine but be a little soupy.

3. Add seasonings.

Cold foods need more seasoning than warm ones and oats on their own can be bland, so definitely add a pinch of salt and a little sweetener like honey or brown sugar. We like adding a tablespoon or two of real maple syrup along with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and a splash of vanilla. Other popular add-ins include peanut butter, mashed banana, canned pumpkin, cocoa powder, and chia seeds. If you use chia seeds, keep in mind that they suck up a lot of moisture and you may need to add a touch more liquid.

4. Shake it up, baby!

Give the jar a vigorous shake session and then put it in the fridge for at least four hours, but ideally overnight. Then, when you pull it out in the morning, give the mixture another stir for good measure. (They will last in the fridge for three days.)

5. Top it off.

Overnight oats are delicious cold, but you can also warm them up in the microwave using 15-20 second increments. Add whatever toppings your kiddos will love: fresh fruit, granola, a little homemade jam, or chopped nuts or seeds if they are over age four. Now sit back and watch them enjoy—and you can relish all the time you saved!

Here are 5 hot leads on cold oats recipes we’d love to spoon up:

  • A smoothie-style “caramel” (the flavor comes from dates!) apple combo from Running with Spoons that you soak in a blender overnight for a quick whir in the morning.
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