These no-fuss, make-ahead Maple Berry Overnight Oats are packed with flavor, super nutritious, and just sweet enough. Make a batch for a week of delicious breakfasts, or serve it as a colorful weekend brunch dish!
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I start most mornings with a slice of banana bread or a piece of toast slathered with peanut butter and marmalade. But sometimes I crave something different, something fruitier and heartier, but something that won’t take me any longer to prepare than toast. Enter overnight oats!
Overnight oats is a super-easy make-ahead breakfast. Your most difficult task when creating this delicious breakfast dish is to think ahead and assemble it the night before you want to enjoy it. The good news is that you can make a batch of overnight oats and keep it refrigerated for up to 5 days. This means that stirring together one batch of maple berry overnight oats on Sunday night can deliver you a week’s worth of instantly delicious, healthy, hearty morning meals!
My recipe for maple berry overnight oats was inspired by a delicious Swiss muesli I would enjoy every time I’d visit the (now closed) Mövenpick Market in Toronto, back when I was attending university there almost 20 years ago. The “market” was a self-serve type of restaurant with tons of freshly prepared (à la minute) options that leaned heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables. I always went there for breakfast or brunch. There was so much on offer that most people found it difficult to choose—but I always went for the berry Swiss muesli.
Swiss muesli, also called Bircher muesli from the name of the doctor who developed the dish over 100 years ago, is a breakfast cereal that combines oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. The difference between Swiss muesli and granola is that Swiss muesli is not sweetened and is not baked. Instead, the ingredients are kept raw and loose.
To prepare Swiss muesli, you combine oats with milk or yogurt and grated apple and refrigerate it overnight before digging in. You can replace the apple with other fruits—my personal favorite is berries. I always have a stash of summer berries in the freezer and so I can simply mix the frozen berries into the oats mixture. They thaw overnight and release their deliciously sweet juices into the oats, making the dish just sweet enough to be enjoyed as is.
Of course, being Canadian, I can’t resist mixing a bit of maple syrup into my berry overnight oats. I love the aroma of maple syrup and I think it adds that extra touch of sweetness that perfectly rounds out the flavors in these colorful berry overnight oats. Refer to my helpful tips, below, for additional sweetening options.
In their simplest form, overnight oats are a mixture of regular rolled oats and milk or yogurt, which is refrigerated overnight. This resting time allows the oats to plump up and become perfectly tender, ready to fill you up with energy for the day.
Overnight oats can (and should!) also be combined with fruit for extra vitamins and flavor. Traditional Swiss muesli uses grated apple, but you can use any other fruit, such as chopped oranges, peaches, or berries.
The dish combines rolled oats, fruits, nuts, and yogurt (or milk), so it’s filled with fiber, vitamins, and protein. The natural sweetness in my recipe comes from fresh fruits and pure apple juice. All these ingredients combine to produce a hearty, nutritious, good-for-you breakfast.
Compared to rolled oats, quick cooking and instant oats go through additional processing to decrease their cooking time. Both products are partially cooked, then rolled extra thin; in the case of instant oats, they are then milled even finer. Both products were created for faster preparation.
Since overnight oats isn’t a “quick” recipe and the oats benefit from an overnight soak, it’s not necessary to use a quick cooking or instant variety of oats. There are additional benefits to using rolled oats, too: since they go through minimal processing, rolled oats have the highest fiber and protein content, which makes them more filling. Following the soaking process, rolled oats also retain a better texture, which makes them more delicious and enjoyable to eat.
Bottom line? You can use quick cooking or instant oats, but in my opinion, the end product won’t be quite as good.
If you don’t have maple syrup on hand, you can use honey instead. Or you can forgo the extra sweetener altogether: the apple juice and berries already are sources of sugar, so a lot of people like to enjoy their overnight oats as is.
If you don’t want to use maple syrup or honey but still want that extra touch of sweetness, you can use vanilla or maple yogurt instead of plain yogurt.
Yes! Traditional Swiss muesli uses grated apple, but you can use any other fruit, such as chopped oranges, peaches, or, of course, berries.
It’s easy to make vegan overnight oats: simply substitute your favorite vegan yogurt for the regular variety and prepare the recipe as indicated.
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