What do Lady Gaga and this recipe have in common? They’re both overnight sensations!! No, this recipe does not contain a coat made of raw meat…that’s a different post.
My fascination with jars goes way back. In 6th grade, my Ancient Egypt unit final project was construction of a canopic jar — you know, those creepy-looking vessels they made to store the Pharaoh’s organs and whatnot. Using just clay and a doll head (from a sacrificed Barbie), I made a canopic jar fit for the liver of King Tut himself! That was one of my best school projects…right up there with the snowshoes I made out of woven Walmart bags — I didn’t have Cable TV as a kid.
I make it a habit to save any and all good-sized glass jars with nicely-fitting lids. Natural peanut butter jars, salsa jars, and pasta sauce jars are my favorites. I just soak them overnight in warm, soapy water to dissolve the label glue, then run the jar and lid through the dishwasher. BAM. Perfect vessel for anything you can imagine! Larger jars are good for things like baking chips, dried beans/peas, nuts, and seeds. Smaller jars — especially peanut butter jars — are perfect for, you guessed it, overnight oats!
Overnight oats are a wonderful way to have a week’s worth of portable breakfasts at the ready, without having to resort to drastic measures, i.e. toaster pastries, last-night’s pizza, or sugar-laden “breakfast bars.” Let’s not even consider the option of no breakfast. I’d rather have a tooth pulled.
The internet is full of Overnight Oats recipes, but they all follow the same basic principle: old-fashioned oats, soaked in the refrigerator in water and/or milk, develop a delightfully chewy, satisfying texture that readily accommodates a plethora of delicious mix-ins. As with my “Made-in-the-Morning” Oatmeal, I like to add veggies — zucchini, carrot, sweet potato, butternut squash, etc. — too, for added goodness. However, since the oatmeal doesn’t get cooked to enhance the natural sweetness of the vegetables, they must be prepped accordingly. Much experimenting has taught me that pumpkin puree, zucchini (finely shredded) and carrots (coarsely grated) work best in overnight oats, adding texture and body without adding unnecessary caloric density. I like my grated carrot a bit al dente, but if you prefer a softer texture (or are a denture-wearer), you can certainly soak the grated carrots in boiled kettle-water for 10 minutes, drain them, and add as directed.
After the oats have marinated overnight, all they need is a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of something crunchy! I typically go for plain Greek yogurt, but this week, Dannon Oikos was on sale, and they had a new chocolate flavor that had “Carolyn” written all over it! I’m pleased to report that Dannon masterfully maintained the refreshing twang of Greek yogurt with just the right amount of subtle, chocolatey sweetness. Kudos, Dannon, kudos.
Fair warning: If you eat these oats in public, expect sideways looks, shameless pointing, and blatant “What’s that?” comments. Normally these reactions are founded in pure curiosity, but, full disclosure, without pretty toppings, even I will admit that they look kind of weird. Also, depending on the jar you’re recycling to comport your oaty goodness, people may be shocked and appalled to think that you’re eating a jar of salsa for breakfast. I speak from experience.
Chocolate Banana Overnight Oats
Makes 2 servings…increase recipe as needed!
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 very ripe banana
2 tablespoons honey (optional — I like just having the sweetness from the banana, but if you like your mornings a bit sweeter, go for it!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium zucchini, finely shredded
1 large carrot, coarsely grated — soaked in boiled water and drained, if you prefer a less toothsome texture…I like ’em a bit crunchy, so I say “nope” to soak!
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2/3 cup vanilla almond or cashew milk (or regular milk…your call)
Granola, mini chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, fresh fruit, etc., for topping
In two small, clean, glass jars, divide oats, banana, honey (if using), and vanilla, and mash together with a fork. Add carrots, zucchini, pumpkin and almond milk to each jar, and mix together (you can keep using the fork to mix, but if you have those cute mini-rubber spatulas — spatulae? — they work best!). Add coco powder, chia and flax seeds, spices, walnuts, and ginger (if using), and mix together. Add enough water to JUST cover the ingredients, and carefully combine — the jars will be pretty full by now, but FEAR NOT, between the liquid-sucking sponge action of those thirsty little oats and the magical gel-ification properties of the chia and flax seeds, I promise, everything will work out fine! Screw lids on jars tightly and refrigerate, yes, overnight. I normally increase the recipe to make 5 jars at a time (a.k.a. Monday through Friday) each Sunday, and they hold up beautifully in the fridge. In fact, I think my Friday Oats are the best of all! (Much like my Friday underwear)
When it comes time to consume your oats, plop on a big dollop of yogurt and your crunchy topping(s) of choice, and enjoy straight from the jar!
P.S. If you have the luxury of time and can consume your overnight oats out of a bowl, I highly recommend smothering in fresh fruit (I’m pro-pear) and LOTS of yogurt 🙂