How to Master Overnight Oats + Chia Bowls (Mocha Banana Parfait)

I love grab-n-go breakfasts. But I also love a cozy, nutrition-filled grain bowl in the morning. Overnight Oats has all the convenience you need on a busy morning, plus all that homestyle, "real meal" goodness you crave. No protein bars here! (Not that I mind a yummy grab-n-go protein bar once in a while.)

There are soooooo many variations for overnight oats / chia seed breakfast puddings. The best part (besides being supremely delicious) is that on the morning you enjoy them there is virtually no prep and definitely no cooking involved. Grab-n-go. (With a few accent ingredients tweaks being optional.)

How is this amazingness done? Well, all the magic happens while you are fast asleep in bed, dreaming of cuddly kittens, endless bowls of coconut cream ice cream, aqua waves crashing on a white sand beach or maybe just sparkly clouds and cookie dough pancakes. Whatever you dream about at night, you will be also dreaming about your breakfast! Overnight Oats + Chia Bowls (made however you like them!) awaiting you at sunrise.

Here is one of my fave energizing "mocha bowl" recipes and a few how-to tips to get you started!.. (Oh, and some gratuitous kitten photos too..)

Dive into a chia-oat parfait tomorrow morning. I will show you how!

And kitty lovers, do not miss the kitten pics at the end of the post too :)

How to Master Overnight Oats / Chia Bowls

Intro: I call these overnight oats AND chia bowls because I most always add some chia seeds to my overnight oats. I find that it thickens up the texture even more and I love all the healthy benefits of chia seeds like healthy fats, fiber and more. So lets go. Once you have youR ingredients you can get started!..

Base ingredients: oats and chia seeds (I like to lightly process my oats for a smoother texture!)
Liquid: Any non-dairy milk
Seasonings: sweeteners (maple, agave, coconut sugar..), spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, vanilla
Add-ins: Nuts, seeds, crumbled cold cereal, granola, cacao nibs, dried fruit, superfood powders, protein powders even!
Fruit: Fresh fruit, any variety
Other Ideas: coconut milk, espresso, cacao powder, fruit purees and juices, peanut butter, almond butter, matcha green tea and more! -> creativity is key!

A Few Master Tips:

* The Ratio. The ratio of oats to liquid is generally a 1:1 ratio. Then with a bit more research you will find that most people are making non-vegan oats and do 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup yogurt. Well to veganize this classic ratio you can either use vegan yogurt OR do what I usually do, sub chia seeds and more liquid for the yogurt -- since the chia seeds thicken very well. So no matter what your recipe, just remember that adding chia seeds soaks up a lot of liquid so either add a splash more liquid or be prepared for a thicker texture. Also, adding in other dry ingredients will soak up some liquid too.

I personally think it is better to over-estimate the liquid when first starting out trying overnight oats, simply because you can always add in dry crunchy ingredients (ideas above) to thicken things up when serving. Over time you will figure out what your personal liquid to oats ratio is. How thick or thin you prefer it. And that goes for chia pudding too. Some people like it quite watery and others need it super-spoonable and thick. But 1:1 (oats to non-dairy milk) is an easy starting point, and easy to remember too. You do not need the "yogurt" but if you do add it in a vegan version, the texture will be a bit creamier and silkier like pudding. But like I said, I solve the yogurt problem by adding chia seeds and an extra splash of liquid.
* Those Oats.. My preference is to actually use oats that have been lightly processed in my Vitamix. It makes my mixture so much more creamy and thick the next day. I do not process it to flour consistency, just lightly pulsed for a few seconds. You can also use whole rolled oats, unprocessed. Just do not use steel cut oats! That will not work..
* Liquid: Homemade almond or cashew milk is the best for an amazing flavor. But you can also use store bought if needed. I like to use plain or original flavors so that I control the sweetness and vanilla flavor. I use fortified brands when using store bought since they will be rich in nutrients like vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
* Salt! You should lightly salt your mixture. Oats are quite bland to begin with and a few pinches of salt really goes a long way.
* Fruit Tips: If you are using berries or bananas you can easily layer them into a parfait the night before. But if you fear soggy fruit (even at all) you should probably add the fresh fruit right before serving.
* Flavors! There are so many ways you can flavor your "oat/chia" base. Try classic vanilla with a hint of cinnamon and maple. Try cacao-blended for a chocolate-y boost. Try nut butter blended if you are nut butter obsessed, or try something fun like mocha with a hint of espresso like I did in today's recipe!
* Crunch! A little crunch to accent the creamy is a must for a yummy bowl. Try vegan granola, nuts or seeds.
* Sweetener: Do not be too worried if you under-sweeten your mixture before letting it set overnight. Actually it is probably BEST to under-sweeten the night before because you can always add an extra drizzle or two of sweetener to serve. Plus first thing in the morning your taste buds will be more sensative to sweetness than perhaps the night before and it is always better if you can add less sugar in the end.
* Warm Bodies: If you HATE the idea of cold oatmeal, you can warm up your overnight oats in the microwave for a few seconds before serving or even in a pot on the stove. The oats will be nice and hydrated so you do not have to cook them, just warm them. What I usually do is actually warm up a side serving of non-dairy milk to pour over the cold oats in the morning. It adds a nice warm-meets-cold flavor that I personally love! But you can do whatever you love.
* Green Me! OK, so this is for you hardcore healthy eaters out there, those of you who just cannot imagine your morning without a green smoothie. :) Well I did this once and loved it. You blend a side thick green smoothie then blend your (plain flavored, lightly sweetened) overnight oats with the green smoothie. It turns into a REAL monster of a green monster bowl. It might sound weird, but it is actually yummy if you love innovative bowls. I did a banana-kale-orange-coconut water green smoothie, blended thickly and layered it with my overnight oats in a parfait glass. It was kind of like an acai bowl... only green and with oats :)
* Just Chia? Yes you can just use chia seeds to make a chia pudding mixture. For that recipe see details here.

Overnight Oats/Chia Bowl Basic Steps:

1. Add 1 part rolled oats (whole or processed) to a small bowl or jar. Add one part non-dairy milk. Add in a spoonful of chia seeds and another splash of liquid. If not adding chia seeds, do not add in the extra splash -- unless you want your oats a bit more moist, then an extra splash is a good idea too. Add a pinch of salt too. I like pink salt.
2. Stir briskly.
3. Fold in sweeteners, spices and anything that you want to be hydrated by the liquid mixture overnight. For crunchy-texture nuts, granola and seeds, add them the next day before serving.
4. Pour mixture into jar(s) and place covered in the fridge to set overnight. In eight hours your breakfast is ready!
5. To serve, add any fresh fruit and nuts you'd like and add additional spices or sweetener as desired. Add additional liquid if desired.

And now for a recipe to try!..

Mocha Banana Chia-Oatmeal Breakfast Parfait
2 servings - halve recipe for just one person

1 Tbsp cacao powder
1 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 cup rolled oats, processed slightly in a blender or fp
pinch of pink salt
2-3 tsp maple syrup, grade B
1 shot (1oz.) warm espresso (if not using espresso, sub chai tea or more non-dairy milk)
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 banana, sliced
1 Tbsp walnuts, crushed
maple syrup to taste to serve

1. Add 1/2 cup of the almond milk, cacao powder and warm espresso to a blender, blend on low until smooth. Once the cacao has dissolved, you can blend in the remaining non-dairy milk, spices and sweetener. You could also whisk briskly until the cacao dissolves, but you may need to warm the non-dairy milk to get the cacao to dissolve properly.

2. Combine chia seeds, oats and sweetened and seasoned cacao liquid in a small bowl or jar. Add a pinch of salt. Stir briskly.

3. Slice you banana and crush your walnuts.

4. In one or two serving jars, layers the mixture with the banana slices, top with the crushed walnuts.

5. Place in the fridge overnight, serve chilled or warmed. Sweeten to taste to serve.


And now for some gratuitous kitten pics. Sochi LOVES his carrot, given by the lovely Cat of RabbitFoodForMyBunnyTeeth... :) Thanks Cat!

Fighting. Playing. Same thing. Over the carrot.

Sochi knows you have to REACH for what you want in life..

Until you get tired, that is..

OK, that's all. Bu-Bye from Sochi!..

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