by Athena Abdien
Photography by Athena Abdien
Over the past few years, oatmeal has made a comeback. Especially for college students, oatmeal is a staple to keep in the dorm room or kitchen cabinets because it is delicious and easy to make. Not only does oatmeal require a small number of ingredients, like oats and water or milk, but it can also be very versatile in flavor and texture.
With 2017, an abundance of food trends surfaced. One of those trends is overnight oats, a new spin on hot oatmeal.
By putting in a little time and effort the night before a busy day, one can save time in the morning and guarantee a healthy and satisfying breakfast by making overnight oats. As one heads out the door, the only thing one will have to remember is to grab the Mason jar full of cool, creamy oats.
Just like warm oatmeal, basic overnight oats only require a few ingredients. However, depending on how creative one wants to be, possible flavors and toppings are endless.
“The best thing about this breakfast is the endless flavor and presentation opportunities,” said Juliette Steen, the associate food editor for The Huffington Post Australia. “You can have them plain, flavored like your favorite desserts or layered in a jar with yoghurt, granola or fruit.”
These little cups of oats can last a long time if refrigerated properly, since they are served cold.
Oatmeal is known as a health food if made with whole and natural ingredients. However, processed, instant oatmeal packets are often filled with refined sugars and illegible ingredients. Although these brands can appear healthy, they do not offer the same health benefits as a home-cooked and refrigerated bowl does.
Overnight oats are easy to digest due to their texture after being soaked overnight and are a rich carbohydrate full of resistant starches.
“The soaking acts like a long cooking, which you won’t get from just heating them in the microwave or on the stove,” said Heather McClees, a holistic nutritionist. “Resistant starches can help decrease insulin levels that spike when eating hot, cooked starches versus cooled starches.”
If one has a crazy schedule, in which fitting the time in to cook anything seems impossible, overnight oats is certainly a trend to try.
The way to prepare overnight oats is extremely simple. All one needs are dry rolled oats and a milk of choice. Since oats tend to be very bland on their own, adding some other flavors and textures to the recipe is recommended. Depending on the flavor one is craving, one can get as creative as one’s heart and stomach desires.
For example, when combined with a dash of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla extract, a ripened, smashed banana is a popular add-in. It adds just the right amount of sweetness to the oats.
Typically, overnight oats also include some sort of seed, like chia or flax seeds, which soak up the milk and add a chewier texture.
These basic ingredients result in a simple bowl of overnight oats. For those in the mood for a little more variety, toppings such as granola, fresh fruit, coconut flakes, maple syrup, dark chocolate chunks or nuts, are all possible add-ons.
Another way to add more flavor is by mixing it in with the base. For instance, if one is in the mood for peanut butter—or any kind of nut butter—oats, just add a few tablespoons of peanut butter and be sure to mix thoroughly.
Finally, stick the mixture into the fridge for a minimum of two hours, but preferably overnight, and the oats are ready to serve and enjoy.
College students everywhere are now following this trend.
“I love overnight oats,” said Jess Radlo (CAS ’19). “It’s so filling, and you can make it any way you want. You can add bananas, strawberries, and it’s like a cheap version of an acai bowl, with less sugar and more fiber.”
Overnight oats are great for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between; they make for a hearty meal that is also convenient and simple to prepare. For students with busy schedules, this tasty trend is a welcome addition to their meal repertoire.
“Overnight oats are easy,” said Meg Murphy (CAS ’19). “I love knowing my breakfast is all ready to go, especially for early morning classes. As long as you keep the ingredients whole and natural, it’s a very healthy option.”
Overall, making overnight oats is worth those extra minutes spent in the kitchen the night before a full day because they guarantee a stress-free morning.