Overnight oats – Apple juice

Faster than peeling a banana in the morning but infinitely more filling ..

.. this is one of my favourite ways to start my day and perfect when all I want is head STRAIGHT for my breakfast after crawling out of bed. 

As its name tells, the Overnight oats – Apple juice are prepared by soaking rolled oats in apple juice in the evening, and in the morning have overnight magic: merged flavours, plump, creamy, sweet – so much more than just 'soggy oats'! 

You could call soaking a very slow, low temperature cooking

/Shiso Delicious/

I got obsessed with making Overnight oats – Apple juice this winter (2015). The cold time of year makes me crave the comfort of oats  – but I don't always want to mess around with porridge (and hard-to-wash porridge pots) in the morning .. This turned out a perfect combination of convenience, flavour and energy-boost for by both me and A.

There are many recipes and methods for overnight oats – aka Birchers – out there. When I first started looking for recipes I found that many were complicated, and used nut milks which I don't always have handy. The oats release a lot of milkiness while they soak, so you still get a creamy consistency, especially if you give the oats a good stir in the morning before eating. 

So, here is my method with apple juice, bringing you sweet overnight oats.

I've added a list at the end with suggestions for fun things to vary this easy and delicious breakfast with.

Have fun playing with your oats!

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS:

Oats I use what is called jumbo oats (UK), also known as rolled oats or oat flakes. The way whole oat grains become flakes is they're steamed then rolled between giant steel rollers while still soft. This means they're technically lightly pre-cooked and easily turns into porridge, or can be used without any further cooking like in this recipe. Oat flakes come in two different types, rolled, which I use, and quick (or porridge oats in UK) which have been rolled out even thinner, and are a little crumbly in texture. I prefer the thicker oat flakes as they are slightly less processed and the whole grain is still visible which tells me its nutrients are a little more intact .. which means it tastes better, too.

Chia seeds Quite a health craze ingredient in recent years and rightfully so – they turn jelly-like in water and if chewed they are very nutritious (like any seed). Their mucilage means they'll make your gut happy and, as they are virtually tasteless they're a great thickener to any foods, especially raw foods. They're super versatile – I've even used them to thicken tomato passata for pizza. Saying that, the good old linseed (flaxseed) has many properties similar to chia, and if you live in Europe like me you will feel good to know that your seed is grown a little more locally than chia is. Linseed can substitute chia, but it has a more specific flavour so may not work in all recipes.

Fruit Your imagination is the limit! The rule of thumb is the 'dryer' a fruit is, the smaller you should cut it – juicy fruit like orange will be fine in biggish chunks but apples are best cut small or even grated. Small fruits and berries with skin like blueberries or grapes are better saved as topping in the morning unless you feel like cutting them in half .. :) If I'm short of time, fruit, or inspiration I use frozen raspberries – my 'no-chop version' which works a treat!

Juice You can use any juice. Personally I'm not big on store-bought juices and only buy them to make these overnight oats .. I guess I look at them as a sweetener rather than a drink. When I do buy juice I try to buy farm-pressed apple juice from local, small scale growers. Juice from concentrate is a definite no-no for me simply because its large number of processing steps which takes the juice too far away from its natural state .. and its nutrient levels are of course also dropping with every processing step.

But I appreciate not everyone can, or want to, buy farm-pressed juices! And me too, it's not something I'll drag back home from the shops every week .. If i don’t have apple juice I squeeze juice from 1-2 oranges (in winter) and add water to top up. Or, however plain it may sound, just water and a little bit of natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup and a squeeze of lemon will also do the trick. 

Recipe: Essential Overnight Fruit Chia Oats

Oats

Fresh and/or frozen fruit

Up to 1 tablespoon chia seeds per person

Apple juice

Measurements I leave up to you – use as much oats and fruit as you know you, and the people you are making the oats for, will be happy to eat. 

HOW TO MAKE:

Big glasses or jars work well to make your overnight oats in – you want the oats to stay as 'close together' as possible during the night to do their magic. You also need a knife, cutting board and a spoon and that's it! 

Start by putting a layer of oats in each container.

Cut up your fruit and put them on top of your oats. 

Next put about a tablespoon of chia seeds per container, then more oats.

You can make as many layers of oats/fruit as you like but simply oats-fruit-chia-oats will work perfectly.

Cover with apple juice. 

Finally give everything a gentle stir with a spoon – the more the oats and chia seeds are in contact with the fruit the better they'll taste as they soak up their juices during the night.

Cover your containers and leave at room temperature overnight. Or if you prefer, in the fridge. I don't chill mine – living in cool UK means I don’t enjoy eating cold food in the morning, I feel it slows my body down. From a food hygiene perspective I think it’s unlikely some monster will start growing in my oats in a few hours it's in room temperature! However, if you live in a hot climate, it may be worth putting your oats in the fridge.

I normally just dig into my bowl in the morning but you can of course top it with whatever you like; more fruit or berries, granola, cashew cream or yoghurts, or stir in some natural sweetener if you like it sweet.

Some suggestions for things to soak with your oats:

Seeds: Linseeds, sunflower seeds.

Dried fruit: Raisins, goji berries, mulberries, chopped up dates. I like giving my dry fruit a quick wash in lukewarm water before soaking them overnight – I don't know where those fruits have been on their long journey to my kitchen! By washing them it feels like I'm minimising 'something bad' having a party in my oats at night ..

Spices: Cinnamon, vanilla, grated lemon, orange or lime peel (use organic), cardamon, saffron, turmeric.

Super powders: Raw cacao powder (or normal cocoa), matcha, plant-based protein powders, lucuma fruit powder, dehydrated berry powders, wheat grass or barley grass powder – any powder you like really!

Scottish style: Add a tiny pinch of quality salt

Creamy: If you feel like creamier oats you can put a small spoon of tahini or nut butter in the bottom of your jar, add a small amount of water or juice and stir vigorously until you have a runny, creamy 'sauce'. Dilute this with a little more liquid and you have made your own nut milk for your oats. Now THIS is the type of nut milk I prefer – 'instant', and using the whole nut/seed.

If you try this method, I hope you will enjoy these overnight oats as much as me and A! 

Thank you for reading and much love, Sara