Please take a close look above at the gorgeous thick rolled oats they sell at Brazos Natural Foods. Look how symmetrical they are!
Now, compare them to the rolled oats I buy at Albertson’s, my neighborhood supermarket. Notice how ragged and irregular they are. They also aren’t as thick as the first set of oats, though it’s harder to see thickness these photos.
I never gave my oats much thought before I discovered thick-cut oats at Brazos Natural Foods. It’s funny: I love oats, but I was happy buying whatever was in stock or on sale. To be fair, I’ve never bought a batch of oats that didn’t do the job in my granolas or my morning oatmeal bowls. Oats were oats, and as long as I had oats in the pantry, I was happy.
But things have changed now that I’ve become acquainted with thick-cut oats. I’m finding it hard to live without them, to the point where if I find myself oatless, I will run, RUN!, to Brazos Natural Foods to beat their 6 PM closing time so that I can have oats for breakfast the next morning. I hustled over there after work last week with all of 17 minutes to get from the bus stop to the store, and I made it with 5 minutes to spare. It was a triumphant evening.
The oats at BNF are sold in bulk out of what looks like a garbage can. They’re easy to miss because of their deceptive packaging. It took me a while to realize that these thick-cut oats weren’t like my old oatmeal. Their symmetry gives them a really wonderful mouthfeel: creamy, thick, textured. And I’d argue that when the weather gently nudges us toward cold breakfasts, thick oats are the perfect specimen for making hearty bowls of overnight oatmeal.
I used to make overnight oatmeal in college, though at the time it just seemed like some weird health-foodie thing that I kept to myself. I would spoon yogurt into a tupperware container along with a generous handful of oats, chunks of ripe nectarine, and walnuts. I’d tuck the whole thing in the fridge and in the morning, the oats would have merged themselves with the yogurt, creating this lovely cold porridge, made bright with fresh fruit. The walnuts added a nice chewy crunch and tied the whole thing together. This was about the time that nuts were starting to gain a reputation as nutritional superstars, and I was quite happy to have breakfast with a superstar, even eaten out of plastic tupperware.
Since then, overnight oatmeal has become the thing among health food bloggers. I’m rather grateful to jump on the bandwagon here. Overnight oatmeal is awesome. I knew that already. But I think the new versions of this method are even better than my old one. The main idea remains the same: soak rolled oats in milk, yogurt, water, or something else wet, then doctor them up in the morning as you see fit. No cooking, no dirty pot—do everything in the bowl from which you’ll eat your oats. It’s so easy!
Let me tell you a little about my recipe. I’ve tinkered with it a bit, and here’s what I’ve learned. I like to use almond milk for the soaking because I like its subtle, sweet flavor. I add yogurt to my oats in the morning to make them creamier. Texture is very important in overnight oatmeal. My favorite way to add texture is with fruit and nuts. Since it’s June and all, I’m eating blueberries like they’re going out of season, and sweet bananas complement spunky blueberries. Finally, on top of all that deliciousness, I add a spoonful or two of crunchy peanut butter. I’ve also been known to sprinkle some sliced almonds in addition to the peanut butter (remember, nuts are good for you!). All together, it’s an incredibly satisfying breakfast, packed with good stuff. I love it so much that it’s been my breakfast every day for the past three weeks. Since it’s only going to get hotter here in Texas, I don’t see cooked oats returning to my breakfast table until October.
My version of this recipe started with a version from Eat, Live, Run. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost the link, but I wanted to give a nod to my inspiration—my apologies! Onto the oatmeal, friends!
1/2 cup thick rolled oats
1/2 cup almond milk
1/3 cup whole-milk yogurt
Splash of vanilla extract
Handful of fresh blueberries
1-2 tbsp. crunchy peanut butter
Small handful of sliced almonds, optional
1) The night before you plan to eat this for breakfast, add the oats and almond milk to a bowl. Stir them together and cover. I just leave this out on the counter overnight, but if you must, put them in the refrigerator for the night.
2) The next morning, stir the yogurt, salt, and vanilla extract into the now-soaked oats. Slice the banana onto the oat mixture, then scatter the blueberries on top of that. Spoon the peanut butter in the center and top with a few sliced almonds if you like. Stick a spoon in it and breakfast is served.