Since we're getting into the warmer months, overnight oats are one of my go-to breakfasts. They're quick and easy and can be eaten cold straight from the jar while I meander my way to work. I've long played with flavor combinations, using pistachio milk and a splash of rosewater, or raw cacao with a pinch of ground coffee, but in general, I stuck with the same basic formula: oats, some chia seeds, nut milk, and a pinch of salt. Then, when I was talking to Sarah Britton, the famed healthy food expert behind My New Roots, she told me I was missing a key ingredient: lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
The reason? Oats contain phytic acid, which impairs the absorption of iron, zinc, calcium, and more, and blocks the production of digestive enzymes, making your oats much harder on your stomach. Reduction of phytic acid is just one reason that traditional cultures usually soak, sprout, or ferment their nuts, seeds, and grains. While you are soaking your oats when you make overnight oats, you're also consuming that soaking water, which contains the phytic acid.
So what's an oat-loving person supposed to do?
There are a few easy solutions. You can do as Sarah does and soak your oats overnight then drain and rinse them well before eating in the morning. For the lazier among us (yes, that's my raised hand), you can also simply add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a splash of apple cider vinegar to whatever milk or liquid you're using before you add your oats and chia. The acid neutralizes the phytic acid, so you can enjoy your oats blissfully!
Let's talk about taste.
While you can't really taste the lemon juice (the apple cider vinegar slightly more so), you can also lean into the flavor with a recipe designed to maximize it. With that in mind, I created these Lemon Meringue Pie Overnight Oats. Try them out and see how your gut feels—you might be surprised!
Lemon Meringue Pie Overnight Oats
- ½ cup canned full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- Juice + zest of 1 organic lemon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 3 teaspoons chia seeds
- Pinch of sea salt
- Combine coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon zest and juice until well-combined.
- Mix in rolled oats, chia seeds, and salt, until the oats and chia are evenly distributed throughout the liquid.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight, then stir again and enjoy!