Keep the book suggestions coming. I'll let you know once I've made a choice. In the meantime...
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I have no idea how people who don't eat breakfast motivate themselves to get out of bed. I mean, sure, you have to hold down a job or whatever, but the threat of getting fired isn't nearly as helpful to me as knowing that once I get up, I can eat. I generally wake up pretty hungry.
Which is among the many reasons why I am deeply in love with overnight oats. I take them out of the fridge, take off the lid, and breakfast is served. Because apparently the steps involved with pouring cereal and adding milk are too taxing for my morning self. And then I have to make my own coffee?!?
Other reasons that I am an overnight oats convert include that they are delicious, have a very pleasing texture, and are as good for me as I choose to make them. Also, there are a ton of flavor options. I'm finding these days that cooking is a real creative outlet for me and I like that overnight oats allow me to apply my creative energy to thinking up new ingredients and combinations.
Also, it's a pretty filling breakfast. Now that I'm home all day, it would be only too easy to go back for second breakfast and elevensies if I weren't already properly full.
All you really, really need for overnight oats is equal parts oats (old-fashioned, not quick) and liquid, plus a container. The internet will tell you that it needs to be a mason jar because you have to shake them. The internet is even off buying special jars and special plastic lids for this purpose. Personally, I think eating them out of a jar and then cleaning said jar is kind of a pain the butt. I make ours in square Gladware containers and stir them with a spoon.
The other thing I'd argue that you need (though you don't, technically) is chia seeds. Yes, these are the seeds you apply to a Chia Pet. And yes, they are a trendy hippie food. Chia seeds are an excellent source of protein, antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, iron, calcium and fiber. They are highly hydrating and help you to feel fuller longer. But none of that is why I'm telling you that they are essential to your overnight oats. You need them because they turn the texture to pudding. I wasn't impressed with my first attempt at overnight oats because I didn't use any and, while they tasted fine, they were pretty much the texture of paste. The pudding texture is why we're ordering them from Amazon two pounds at a time. You can also get them from Whole Foods or other health food stores or even some regular grocery stores.
So first, allow me to share our favorite overnight oats recipes. You'll see that Raj's is made with coconut milk, while mine is made with skim milk. Almond milk works fine as well, as does juice or, hypothetically at least, water, though I haven't tried it. Raj likes the coconut milk since he needs less lactose in his morning. I like it too, but while Raj is generally eating his oats after having run or swum off the calories, I am always eating mine directly after rolling out of bed. So skim milk it is.
Raj's Favorite: Coconut Milk Banana Oats
Combine 1/2 cup oats, 2/3 cup coconut milk (I know I said equal parts, but coconut milk is thicker, so it's better to use a little more), 1 tbsp chia seeds, splash of vanilla, and 1 sliced and/or mashed banana in a sealable container. Stir and refrigerate for several hours. Even better with blueberries or sliced strawberries, which can be stirred in at night or added in the morning.
My Favorite: Lemon Pie Oats
Combine 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup skim milk, 1 tbsp chia seeds, zest of 1/2 lemon, splash of vanilla, pinch of sugar in a sealable container. Stir and refrigerate for several hours. Before eating, stir in graham cracker crumbs.
I'm obviously not zesting lemons every night though. And sometimes, we run out of bananas or don't have any that aren't still green. Plus variety is the spice of life, or whatever. Some other combinations (with the base recipe of 1/2 c. milk, 1/2 c. oats, 1 T. chia seeds) include:
flavored Greek yogurt (I use the single-serving packs since that's all we can get here - they are 4 ounces) plus anything I want to stir in that goes with the flavor (mixed berry yogurt plus fresh blueberries has been the winner, thus far)
mini chocolate chips, pinch of brown sugar (omit with coconut milk), optional shredded coconut
crushed pineapple, shredded coconut (if you use the pineapple juice, cut back on milk accordingly)
applesauce, LOTS of cinnamon (cut back on milk, depending on the consistency of your applesauce)
canned pumpkin puree, LOTS of pumpkin pie spice, splash of vanilla, optional walnuts, graham cracker crumbs added before eating
raisins, LOTS of cinnamon, splash of vanilla
Other things I've added have included Craisins, peanut butter, cubed pears, and the little crushed bits from the end of a box of cereal. (We usually have oats on weekdays, cereal on weekends.) I anticipate using eggnog, once that time of year rolls around. If we ever get any fresh blackberries around here, they'll be starring in my oats daily until they disappear again. (You could use frozen ones, if you don't mind that they become mushy.) I'm sure any berry or tropical fruit would do nicely (mango sounds appealing) as well. Some people add honey or maple syrup, protein powder, granola, almonds, tea, chai spice, and/or Nutella.
Basically, overnight oats are a blank canvas. Add whatever sounds good to you. If you've got ideas I haven't covered, let me know.