(Look, it matches my countertops.)
Cold oatmeal. Who ever would have thought that that would have become a thing? Of course, to be fair, cold oatmeal of the cooked and cooled variety is a completely different beast that refrigerator oatmeal--oatmeal that is soaked in milk, yogurt, or a combination thereof, left overnight and then eaten the next day.
Still, when I first heard of this last summer, the thought of it was just weird. One of my friends was telling me about their Swiss (I believe) friends who would eat oatmeal this way all the time. Well, not to be outdone by the Swiss, I went home and poured some milk in oatmeal, let it sit overnight, and tried it the next morning with a raspberry sauce. With every spoonful, strings of snot-like starchy substance hung from my spoon. When the raspberry sauce mixed with it, it looked even more repulsive. I could barely choke it down.
Lucky for me, about that time recipes for refrigerator oatmeal started popping up all over the place online. Everyone was doing it. Everyone was raving about it. You could even make a week's worth and have all your breakfasts ready and waiting each morning. Now try that with hot oats.
But it took me a while to hop on the bandwagon. I wasn't sure what I'd done wrong the first time, but I wasn't eating snotmeal again. It could have been the quick oats, or the type of oats (some people say generic kinds are starchier, though I don't think I agree), too much or too little milk. I didn't know. My friend suggested trying it with yogurt. And I did. And I'm glad I did. Because there was no snot. Since that time, I have found that even if I do part milk, part yogurt, I have success. And the thing is that it wasn't just like it was better now because it wasn't slimy. It was beyond better. It was creamy, fluffy, perfectly textured oatmeal. It was delicious.
At first, I was still flavoring my oatmeal in much the same way I would hot oatmeal--with brown sugar and raisins. That was good and all, but I've come to realize that one of the fun things about refrigerator oatmeal is that it can be made with all kinds of fun add-ins and that this, too, can be done the night before.
When I went to my sister's house over Thanksgiving, I found a combo I really really adored--oatmeal with chia seeds and maple syrup (the real stuff, but you only need just a bit). This was my first experience with chia seeds. I was, after all, raised at the height of chia pet commercialization. Who knew that one day the seeds that sprouted on your little chia pig would be the next hot super food?
Vegans have known about chia seeds longer than the rest of us because, when combined with water, they form a gelatinous substance that can be substituted for eggs in baking. They're also noteworthy (for vegans and the rest of us) because they're super high in omega-3's (yet, unlike flax seed, don't have to be crushed or ground to access it) and because they can fill you up and are good for digestion (if you drink enough water, which you should).
You can generally find them in health stores. They're going to be the cheapest if you buy them from bulk bins. You can buy them off of Amazon if your town doesn't sell them. You can also find them in different colors, but all are purported to have the same health benefits.
Here's to a healthy, delicious breakfast that can be made for the week in 5 minutes or less.
Refrigerator Oatmeal with Chia Seeds and Maple
Serves 1 (but can be multiplied)
Prep time: 2 minutes
oats: .02, milk: .03, yogurt: .10, chia seeds: .10, maple syrup: .05
1/4 C oatmeal (regular oats are best, but quick will work too)
1/4 C milk
1/4 C plain yogurt (Greek or regular)
1 1/2 tsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp real maple syrup (or honey)--I use a fairly low grade, but it is the real stuff
Combine all ingredients. Cover with lid or plastic wrap. Put in fridge overnight or longer. Eat.
Note: You can mix up a big batch, put individual size servings in Tupperware or small mason jars and then you have a quick, transportable breakfast for each day of the week.