How To Make Overnight Oats

When I discovered the awesomeness of overnight oats sometime near the beginning of my trudge towards my Masters degree, it was game-changing. I was still vegetarian at the time (a whole other post) and I didn't really eat eggs or dairy (I know. How the times have changed), so breakfasts were pretty lame. Think plain oatmeal, peanut butter-banana toast, or maybe a tofu scramble if I had time. But when I made my first overnight oats that were 1. delicious 2. portable and 3. crazy quick to make I knew I was on to something worth experimenting with. After all, I was in school full-time and working 20 hours so that left very little time to cook (which I find ironic because I was working toward my Masters in Nutrition...). I digress. The truth is, though, that I'm not very good at writing down recipes. I kind of just throw everything together and hope it works out (I'm a bit more controlled when it comes to baking, but not much). So that's why it's taken me almost 5 years to come up with a 'overnight oats formula'. But I finally did and here it is! 

The great thing about overnight oats (aka bircher muesli or soaked oatmeal) is that they are completely customizable to your tastes and/or what's on hand in the fridge and pantry. Which, in our kitchen, means there are probably 1000 different possible combinations. One of my favorites, though, is blueberries, almonds, coconut, and chia seeds. This is the flavor combo that I've used for this post, but feel free to be creative and daring! I often use The Flavor Bible to come up with interesting ideas:
- Raspberry, mint, coconut butter, ginger
- Figs, reduced balsamic, walnuts, vanilla, marscapone
- Cherries, dark chocolate, chili pepper
- Kiwi, coconut milk, pineapple, mango, macademia nut

So many options! What's your favorite? 

// Overnight Oats: A Formula // - serves 1
If you're a busy student like I was or find it hard to fit in breakfast during the busy work week, overnight oats are for you. They're so simple and easy not to mention delicious and filling. And there is really no limit to the number of different flavor combos you can create for overnight oats. Try experimenting with different fruits, nuts, seeds, nut butters, milks, spices, and even rolled grains like rye, barley, or spelt. The options are endless!  

1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking or steel cut)
1/3 cup fresh fruit
1/4 cup mix-ins (dried fruit, nuts, seeds, etc...)
1 teaspoon sweetener or 1 large date chopped  
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup milk of your choice
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract or other extract

1. Place all ingredients in a small bowl or mason jar and mix well. Cover and place in fridge overnight. That's it! 

Smoky Sweet Potato Hummus

Hummus is a staple in our house. We eat it mainly with carrots and mushrooms and bell peppers, but it's also a great spread for a quick open-faced sandwich or as a dip on a mediterranean platter (one of our favorite meals). I always try to have a fresh batch in the fridge, which helps keeps us away from the less healthy snacks. Sometimes, not always. Currently I'm addicted to those little crunchy Asian puffed rice snacks. It's bad! But then again, we don't have any hummus in the fridge, so there you go... 

As good as plain, traditional hummus is (just chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and maybe tahini), I like to mix things up a bit every now and then. This version has the awesome combo of sweet potatoes and smoked paprika. Yum! I hope you give it a try :)

And next time you hear from us we'll be in SPAIN! 

// Smoky Sweet Potato Hummus // makes about 3 cups
I like to make my hummus from dried chickpeas, but canned would work well here too. I have two tricks for making really smooth hummus from dried beans: 1. Use chickpeas just after cooking them. When the chickpeas are hot,  they blend up into a creamier hummus 2. Use some of the cooking liquid to thin out the hummus. This adds more flavor than plain water

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked until tender (about 15 minutes) - save the cooking liquid!
1 pound sweet potatoes, baked at 350° for 1 hour or until easily pierced with a knife
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup cooking water from chickpeas or plain water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch cayenne

1.   Place all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender and blend until very smooth, about 5-7 minutes. Scrape down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. Let cool, then store in fridge in an airtight container