I’m a little narrow-minded when it comes to my oats.
In my mind, oats belong squarely on the middle rack inside a toasty warm oven. They should stay there, hardly harassed, just until they’ve soaked up the surrounding sea of egg, milk, flax meal, vanilla, and cinnamon…
And then they should be relocated to the top rack, so the surface can catch a few high-intensity rays. This last-minute effort at a tan is a critical step: while the top of the oat bake is browning, the edges get to crisp up and pull away from the sides of the baking dish.
If you’re on your toes [I know, that’s a tall order for first thing in the morning], the exterior will turn out slightly springy to the touch – which means underneath that sweet-smelling golden shell, there’ll be an inch or two of perfectly soft and saturated oats. Even when the top has been blanketed by a thick layer of Greek yogurt and dotted with the juiciest berries, the oats don’t get soggy.
In sum: Gloopy and Gluey don’t belong near oatmeal.
Given my rather resolute opinion on the oatmeal situation, you can now understand just how revolutionary it was for me to try “overnight oats in a jar”.
- There is no baking involved whatsoever. The refrigerator does all the work.
- Since it has to sit overnight, it’s impossible to hover over every step of the process [and you know how much I like to hover!].
- The texture is football fields away from cookie-like.
- It’s served cold, cold, cold.
- [And perhaps its biggest sin of all] It’s not very pretty.
When I finished the prep before bed, I seriously thought the garbage disposal would be the only one swallowing this stuff in time for the levé de soleil [French for “sun rise”]. In fact, I was already envisioning the new cocoa cake variation I would try – with instant espresso granules incorporated into the batter and dark chocolate-covered espresso beans piled on top.
Truth be told, things didn’t look much better at first light. But once I transferred the whole gloopy mess from a mason jar to a pale pink bowl, I felt mildly more enthused.
I wrapped my head around the fact that my oatmeal was going to be cold, just this once, and I geared myself up for a smoothie for breakfast. To galvanize myself further, I added a dollop of peanut butter and a swirl of cinnamon to mix. To finish, I sliced up what had to be one of the world’s cutest mini bananas…
And pretended not to notice when the magenta-colored spoon my mom passed me on my way out of the kitchen stuck like glue when I inserted it at an angle.
After the initial hesitant half-a-spoonful, I had to laugh at myself. It was simply delicious, in an entirely different way than baked oats are. The familiar flavors were there – banana, peanut butter, yogurt, maple syrup, cinnamon – but the changed texture made for an undeniably more filling breakfast. I had no urge to pop it in the microwave, and I was very sorry to see the bottom of my bowl peeking through. I wasn’t left with that little ping of comical disbelief/slightly real despair that always hits once I finish a serving of ice cream, but it was pretty close.
While I think baked oats will always have my heart, I’m excited about the prospect of switching to cold oats this summer – when it just feels too hot and humid to turn on the oven and when I don’t want to miss the morning sun by staying cooped up in the kitchen.
Recipe [For One]:
½ cups rolled old-fashioned oats
½ cups 1% milk
4 oz. plain 0% fat Greek yogurt
1 mini banana [or ½ medium], minced
Spoonful raw chia seeds
½ spoonful 100% pure maple syrup
Heaping ½ tablespoon of natural, unsalted, chunky peanut butter
1 mini banana [½ medium], sliced on the diagonal
Cinnamon, to taste
Gather all ingredients listed under night before and add to a mason jar.
Close the lid, and shake, shake, shake.
Open the lid and stir with a spoon.
Seal and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
On the morning of, add peanut butter and cinnamon to taste.
Garnish with fresh banana slices, if desired.
Inspired by Kath Eats Real Food