Dorm recipes: How to make overnight oats

Overnight oats are a very easy breakfast food to make in your dorm room. Aidan Chang / The Tufts Daily

Difficulties with the dining system are all a result of the present COVID-19 restrictions under which staff and students have to live, but that does not mean people living on campus without a kitchen have to relinquish their desire for delicious food. There are many things one could cook in the dorms. Therefore, this is the first installment of a series on dorm recipes.

This week’s recipe will be on how to make the bougie coffee shop staple, the TikTok trending and the Instagram-worthy overnight oats. Sophomore Evelyn Abramowitz has been making overnight oats in her dorm room at Harleston Hall since the start of the school year. In case you are wondering what exactly these renowned oats are, Abramowitz described them as “cold and mushier” than regular oatmeal. Although she acknowledged with a laugh that her description sounds somewhat unappealing, she told me about the first time she tried them on a trip to Amsterdam, and that they were so good she started making them at home.  

Abramowitz had not made overnight oats at Tufts until this semester.

“I had a banana that was going bad and I realized, ‘ooh, I can make overnight oats with this,’” Abramowitz said, adding, “Stop food waste!”

The oats are an incredibly versatile recipe that can adapt to whatever you have in your fridge and will last a couple days after preparation. Abramowitz described the recipe as “ridiculously easy,” and she constantly alters it depending on what ingredients she has and what taste she is in the mood for. 

I asked her if she had any tips for newcomers in the oat world on some alternatives she would recommend for the recipe, and she shared that there are “endless choices.” Abramowitz said one can make them with “literally whatever they want,” including greek yogurt, plant-based or dairy milk, banana, chocolate, berries or chopped-up apple. 

“You just need oats, some sort of liquid and a sweetener,” Abramowitz said. 

Abramowitz described her experience eating on campus this year as “interesting.” This is because she has had to put a lot of effort into planning her meals ahead of time so that she can get them on the right schedule.

“I think the quality [of the food] has been pretty good,” she said. “I just obviously miss sitting in the dining hall.” 

Abramowitz is grateful for the dining staff and thinks that Tufts has dealt with food catering quite well, but she finds it stressful to have to constantly think about what, when and where she will eat. Therefore, recipes like her overnight oats have helped her daily schedule. 

Overnight oats are not simply Abramowitz’s dorm room treat; over the last couple of years they have become a cultural trend among Generation Z brunch-goers. From 2016–17 there was a 51.4% increase in social media activity related to overnight oats, with 413,200 Instagram posts about the food. During quarantine, there has seemed to be a resurgence of oats’ popularity in the TikTok world. Abramowitz thinks this can be attributed to the “homey” and “warming” qualities of the meal and how one “can make it look very aesthetic.” The popularity of this recipe has not only increased due to visual reasons — the trend is related to another cultural phenomenon during quarantine: the increase of indoor exercising and healthy cooking

The recipe has been branded as a healthy alternative to sweet and comforting breakfast items due to its versatility in ingredients that allow it to be low in calories but high in nutrients. Rolled oats, a key ingredient in overnight oats, have a healthy balance in nutritional composition. The oats are high in a fiber called beta glucan that is linked to lowering cholesterol levels and helps combat a variety of diseases, including diabetes. Other nutrients in the oats include protein, iron and magnesium. The reason why overnight oats are appealing for a healthy diet is that soaking the oats overnight makes them more digestible by breaking down starches. 

As Abramowitz would say, the endless options of toppings you could put on the oats allows the dorm-chef to decide what exactly they desire from the recipe: getting their morning fruit or having some sweet chocolate chips to get them up and at it. 

Abramowitz generously gave me a taste of the overnight oats she had prepped the night before. To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of oats — unless covered in sugar and submerged in warm milk, of course. But Abramowitz’s overnight oats were better than I expected: the creamy texture of the banana was not too gooey or potent; the bitterness and hard texture of the chocolate balanced out the mushiness of the oats (not my favorite); the blueberries she sprinkled on top were refreshing and comforting. Overall, if I were into the taste of oats and was accustomed to eating breakfast, I would definitely try out this recipe.

For those of us who find pleasure in cooking and eating, it is necessary to remind ourselves that there are still some things we can achieve in our rooms with the help of our microfridge and common room kitchens. This sentiment is especially prevalent as the seasons change, winter begins to creep upon us and we start spending more time inside. Now, imagine yourself waking up on a snowy morning and knowing you only have 30 minutes to get to class: Is there a bowl of overnight oats somewhere in your imaginary future? Then check out the recipe below.

Evelyn’s overnight oats recipe for one:

Ingredients: 

  • For the oats: 1 overripe banana, rolled oats, oat milk creamer, small chocolate chunks, honey.
  • Toppings: blueberries, chia seeds. 

How to: 

  • Add a cup of oats into any container of your choice, leaving space for liquids and oat expansion.
  • Mash a banana and mix it with the oats. 
  • Add the oat milk creamer so that the oats are fully submerged and the liquid rises up over them. (There will be more liquid than your final product will have as the oats will soak it up overnight. You can always add more liquid as time passes and the oats begin to absorb it.) Mix the ingredients.
  • Sprinkle in the chocolate chunks and continue mixing. 
  • Drizzle in honey for added sweetness. 
  • Cover the container and leave it in the fridge overnight.
  • In the morning, add blueberries and chia seeds before eating.  

Keep in mind most of these ingredients can be substituted for anything of your choice. The only essential ingredients are the rolled oats and a milk product of your choice.

Here are some replacement options for oat milk creamer: dairy milk, almond milk, greek yogurt.

Toppings: fruit, granola, chia seeds, chocolate, peanut butter.


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