Healthy & Delicious Chocolate Pudding Multi-Grain Oatmeal

Whenever I think of porridge I think of something bland and beige, the sort of thing that only people in prison and old time-y kids in Charles Dickens novels eat. This all changed after seeing this amazing post “To Talk Porridge” from Megan Gordon at A Sweet Spoonful. This porridge was not bland; it was topped with cranberries, coconut, and almonds; and it was not beige (well not entirely anyways), it was swirled with deep red and tinged with pink. And multi-grain oatmeal guys, is really just code for porridge. It just sounds nicer than the word ‘porridge’.

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Taking inspiration from that post I came up with a yummy and very chocolate-y multi-grain porridge that is essentially like eating chocolate pudding for breakfast…chocolate pudding that is dairy free, refined sugar free, egg free and has 358 calories, 4.5 grams of fiber, 5.7 grams of protein and is full of healthy coconut fats and omega-3. If you switch the grains too you could definitely make this gluten-free.

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

Although I’ve always liked the idea of oatmeal I never really liked hot oatmeal itself. It was sort of gluey and too one note. I think porridge, or maybe this porridge, solves that issue by using more than one grain for texture, so its more “toothsome” (stealing this word from A Sweet Spoonful’s post as I thought it was very evocative of what I was going for…). Naturally I started with rolled oats but for texture variation I added farro and spelt. Using a variety of grains also makes it healthier, adding in different nutrients, fiber and protein (depending on the grains you go for). I also added some chia seeds at the end which not only possess the uncanny power of transforming anything into “pudding” (look it up) but are also rich in omega-3. In order to reduce cooking time I used Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro and for the spelt I’m pretty sure I just used regular spelt even though the cooking time for spelt is supposed to be quite long…but it was still fine with 10 minutes.

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

For the liquid in the porridge I went with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, which is very low in calories but still adds creaminess. And after ensuring this was healthy to make it delicious I added cocoa powder, dark chocolate, coconut flakes and pistachios. To make it sweet you have a lot of options; brown sugar, honey or agave would be nice but in trying to stay healthy I used coconut sugar sweetened with stevia. My mom gave me this stuff because she abhors my Splenda habit (sorry Mum) and on its own or in a drink I think the Stevia taste is too pronounced but in something like this it blends in very well with no detectable aftertaste….must be all that chocolate šŸ™‚

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal

In order to avoid gluey oatmeal I followed the tips that Megan gave out on her post including to toast the oats first, only add the oats when the liquid is boiling and to avoid stirring the mixture while it cooks.

Oatmeal, Farro & Spelt

Oatmeal, Farro & Spelt

BASIC MULTI-GRAIN OATMEAL

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:
– 1/4 cup rolled oats (76 calories, 2 grams fiber, 2.75 grams protein)
– 1/8 cup Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro (80 calories, 1.5 grams fiber, 3.5 grams protein)
– 1/8 cup spelt (73.5 calories, 2.4 grams fiber, 3.1 grams protein)
– 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil (58.5 calories)
– 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (60 calories, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams protein)

1. Heat a pan on medium heat and add the coconut oil when hot. Toss the oatmeal, farro and spelt in and toast in the coconut oil until they start to smell toasty. This also helps reduce cooking time.
2. Meanwhile, heat a pan with 1.5 cups of almond milk and bring that to a boil.
3. Add the toasted grains to the boiling almond milk, lower heat to simmer, cover and cook for 8 minutes.

CHOCOLATE PUDDING MULTI-GRAIN OATMEAL

– 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (36 calories)
– 2 tablespoons coconut sugar with stevia (96 calories)
– 2 squares dark chocolate (100 calories)
– 2 tablespoons chia seeds (136 calories, 1.4 grams protein)
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Once you have your basic multi-grain oatmeal cooked for 8 minutes, uncover the mixture.
4. Add in the the cocoa powder, coconut sugar, dark chocolate, chia seeds and remaining 1/2 cup of almond milk. You can add more or less almond milk depending on how thick you want your porridge. Stir minimally to combine, taste for doneness/add more sweetener if necessary then let cook for another 1-2 minutes.
5. Remove from heat, add in the vanilla extract, stir, add toppings and serve.

Grains

Grains

Coconut Oil and Coconut Sugar with Stevia

Coconut Oil and Coconut Sugar with Stevia

Cocoa and Dark Chocolate

Cocoa and Dark Chocolate

Chocolate Pudding Multi-Grain Oatmeal Pre-Toppings

Chocolate Pudding Multi-Grain Oatmeal Pre-Toppings

Now for the toppings. This is honestly perfectly fine by itself but some toppings really go that extra mile with making it feel like a dessert. I went with coconut flakes and pistachios.

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal Post-Toppings

Chocolate Pudding Oatmeal Post-Toppings

Toppings

Toppings

But you could also go with fresh berries, dried apricots and almonds, fresh bananas with a peanut butter swirl (or PB2 if you’re conserving calories, see this post.), or anything you think pairs well with chocolate. Perhaps more chocolate.

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Another route you can go if you are not craving a simpler or fresher final product is to omit the chocolate and then add cinnamon and fresh fruit. This option also saves you 58 calories per serving so that your final product will be closer to 300 calories per serving.

Vanilla, Cinnamon & Berry Multi-Grain Oatmeal

Vanilla, Cinnamon & Berry Multi-Grain Oatmeal

VANILLA, CINNAMON & BERRY MULTI-GRAIN OATMEAL

– 2 tablespoons coconut sugar with stevia (96 calories)
– 2 tablespoons chia seeds (136 calories, 1.4 grams protein)
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– fresh or frozen berries

1. Once you have your basic multi-grain oatmeal cooked for 8 minutes, uncover.
4. Add in the coconut sugar, chia seeds, cinnamon and remaining 1/2 cup of almond milk. You can add more or less almond milk depending on how thick you want your porridge. Stir minimally to combine, taste for doneness/add more sweetener if necessary then let cook for another 1-2 minutes.
5. Remove from heat, add in the vanilla extract, stir, add toppings and serve.
6. If you are using fresh berries, slice over top and if you are using frozen microwave/heat until defrosted and juicy then pour it over the top of your oatmeal. Normally I will always choose fresh berries but in this case the ones that were frozen will be soft and bleeding berry juice that mixes into the oatmeal. “Bleeding” is a poor word choice here but you know what I mean. I’m all for it.

Vanilla Cinnamon Multi-Grain Oatmeal Pre-Topping

Vanilla Cinnamon Multi-Grain Oatmeal Pre-Topping

Post-Topping

Post-Topping

Added almonds and pumpkin seeds too btw.

Added almonds and pumpkin seeds too btw.

This version is also completely vegan. The chocolate pudding version is most likely vegan as well but I think that depends on the veganness of your dark chocolate. Mine was just regular Trader Joe’s dark chocolate so I believe it probably did have milk solids albeit a very small amount of them.

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TIPS:
– Substitute other grains, I think wheat berries would be soooo good in this because of their chewy texture.
– Depending on how soft or how textured you want this vary the ratio of grains (more oatmeal will make it softer) or cook it for more or less time.
– You could even use different grains to make this gluten-free; amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum, rice and some kinds of oats are gluten-free. Just make sure you adjust the cooking times accordingly for the grains you use.
– So many toppings would be good with these. I really want to make the chocolate one again and add PB2 to it for peanut butter flavor then top with sliced bananas and a little swirl of real peanut butter. For the chocolate-free one I think some cinnamon baked almonds and pears with pecans would make it amazing. Or lots of coconut and a few chocolate chips if you only want a hint of chocolate.
– As I mentioned before the chocolate-free one is vegan and the chocolate pudding version is most likely 99.9% vegan depending on how vegan the dark chocolate you use is.

Healthy Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait with Granola

Now these were kind of inspired by acai bowls but mostly inspired by Jamba Juice’s Chunky Strawberry Topper fruit & yogurt parfait. Have you ever had one of those things? They are soo good. They blend strawberries, bananas, yogurt and peanut butter and then top it with fresh banana slices and granola. We had a Jamba Juice on campus and I used to have those things all the time until I realized they were 520 calories for the small ones which is more calories than a bagel with cream cheese! Therefore not really super appropriate for an in between classes snack and more meal replacement I suppose.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

So I wanted to copy this delicious little parfait with about 200 less calories.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

The key to making this healthier is replacing sugar-y yogurt with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and plain fat free greek yogurt. And substituting peanut butter with PB2, a powdered almost fat free peanut butter that is a great way to add peanut butter flavor with so much less fat. I elaborate more on PB2 in this post.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup frozen mixed berries or strawberries
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tablespoons of PB2
3 tablespoons of sweetener (I used Splenda but feel free to use whatever you like)
1 banana
1/4 cup of granola
Drizzle of honey (optional)

1. Blend berries, greek yogurt, almond milk, sweetener, PB2 and 1/2 the banana together until smooth-ish.
2. Pour into bowl.
3. Top with thinly sliced other half of the banana + granola.
4. Drizzle with honey if you’d like.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

The base of this parfait basically has 180 calories so if you add in the banana on top and granola on top you have a total of 310 calories (depending on the granola you use of course). A little more if you use real sugar as opposed to a calorie-free sweetener. Still its not bad right? This would make a fantastic breakfast. And you can add in a little less almond milk if you want it thicker and more PB2 if you want more peanut butterness.

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry + Peanut Butter Parfait

The one pictured above was made with strawberries only which makes it really taste similar to the Jamba Juice version. I also made it with mixed berries (see below). I think the reason because its so purple in the pictures below is all the blueberries as well as taking a picture at night. And a lot of my granola sank into the parfait hence the few little lonely granola islands. Its a yummy and filling snack high in protein and antioxidants but still delicious with the peanut butter and crunchy granola.

Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait with Granola

Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait with Granola

Healthy Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait

Healthy Berry & Peanut Butter Parfait

TIPS:
– This is is a great way to get all your healthy foods in a.k.a. throw in a tablespoon or two of coconut oil or flaxseed oil in the yogurt parfait mix or add in maca powder for energy! As far as topping it add in chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, coconut flakes and/or berries. If you added in all those things you would have the ultimate omega-3, healthy fats, vitamin E, protein, antioxidants, you name it power punch.
– Add fresh sliced strawberries on top. I wish I did!

PB & BCH Toast

If you are currently at a loss for breakfast we have the simplest recipe for you. It involves no cooking (is toasting cooking?) and it will be ready in about 5 minutes, depending on how fast your slicing skills are.

As much as we would love to have a full breakfast everyday, one rarely finds the time to make rashers of bacon, crispy potatoes and scrambled eggs on weekday mornings. And breakfast is, as most of us are tired of hearing, the most important meal of the day. Although we too are guilty of occasionally skipping breakfast, many studies have shown that people who eat breakfast eat less throughout the whole day. Almost on par with skipping breakfast is having an unsatisfying breakfast. Although many times cereal will do just fine, if you are pressed for time and want something hot you need nothing more than 4 or 5 ingredients.

Peanut Butter Banana Coconut Honey Toast

Peanut Butter Banana Coconut Honey Toast

INGREDIENTS:
Loaf of country whole wheat bread (We like Trader Joe’s Demi Miche bread)
Peanut butter (we are partial to crunchy but we know this is a controversial topic)
1 banana
Honey
Shredded or flaked coconut (or any other topping of your choice!)
Coconut oil

Directions:
1. Slice some of the bread to your desired thickness.
2. Toast. Spread coconut oil on both sides then pan fry until golden on each side.
3. Spread the peanut butter generously on one side.
4. Slice the banana and layer on top of the peanut butter.
5. Drizzle with honey.
6. Top with coconut flakes.

Should you follow these ridiculously simple (almost to the point of being unnecessary) directions: The toast will be hot, crunchy on the outside, and will smell coconut-y and butter-y at the same time. The peanut butter will begin to melt where it touches the bread and ooze over. The bananas and honey will add sweetness and lastly you’ll have some more texture and flavor from the coconut. So good! This would also be a perfect afternoon snack.

TIPS:
– If you are allergic to coconut you can use butter instead of coconut oil and omit the coconut flakes.
– This would be also delicious with just plain white bread or super dark rye bread.
– This is what the Trader Joe’s Demi Miche bread looks like (here).
– Instead of the coconut flakes you could also top this with dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, dates…), chocolate chips, cinnamon, nuts, or berries!

Asian Braised Pork Buns

Ever since we got our slow-cooker so many dishes that appeared too time consuming or labor intensive have become such easy weeknight staples. Instead of coming home and then having to braise something in a hot oven for 4 hours before eating it you can start the prep work at night, finish it in the morning, stick in the slow cooker and come back home to some delicious falling-off-the-bone tender main course. Not only that but braising for that long turns cheap cuts of meat into dinner party worthy fare. For everyone who comes home ravenous and/or exhausted from work the slow-cooker is your friend.

For this dish we took inspiration from the pork belly steamed buns at Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York. This dish involved super tender pork belly served with scallions and hoisin sauce on pillowy steamed buns. Pork belly is very rich and very fatty and we prefer something a little leaner and with more texture. This is why we decided to sub pork shoulder for pork belly and to add some more veggies on the side.

Asian Braised Pork Shoulder

Asian Braised Pork Shoulder

For this large portion of pork shoulder (easily serves 4) it cost us approximately $5.14. Another great money saving tip is to shop at ethnic grocery stores. Having to procure some Asian ingredients like chili oil, bok choy, and the sesame buns we went to 99 Ranch in Kearny Mesa. They recently re-did this so it’s a lot nicer and cleaner then it used to be. Not only do they have a wide variety of exotic fare they also have lots of cheap, fresh produce and very inexpensive meat. Now we wouldn’t recommend you get your filet mignon here but for cheaper cuts (like this pork shoulder) they have great deals and our meal was superb.

Asian Braised Pork Shoulder

INGREDIENTS:
1 boneless pork shoulder (3-4 lbs)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Lawry’s seasoning salt (you can use regular salt too)
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 2 inch piece of ginger, grated
3 cups of chicken stock
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup of oyster sauce
1/4 cup of brown sugar
4 tbsp of sambal oelek (you can use more or less depending how much spice you want or substitute Sriracha)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Trim skin and fat from pork shoulder as desired (we took off most of it)
2. Mix sugar and salt and then rub all over the pork shoulder
3. Cover pork in plastic wrap and leave in refrigerator overnight or for at least 6 hours. Place over plate in case any juices leak out.
4. Whisk together the garlic, ginger, chicken stock, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, oyster sauce, brown sugar and sambal oelek.
5. Cut the pork shoulder into 3 pieces and place in slow cooker. Pour in the soy sauce and spices mixture. Make sure some of the tops of the pieces of the pork shoulder remain uncovered by liquid, these will become the crispy bits.
6. Turn the slow cooker on low and let it cook for 8-9 hours.

To complement the pork we made this Momofuku inspired dressing:

Ginger-Scallion Sauce

Ginger-Scallion Sauce

Ginger-Scallion Sauce

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup thinly sliced scallions (green and whites, 3/4 of a large bunch)
1/4 cup finely minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil
1/4 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp chili oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt, more to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed.
2. Let sit for 15-20 minutes before using.

Because braised meats go so well with rice and bitter greens we decided to add sides of fried rice and bok choy, if you have leftover rice this is a cinch to make:

Brown Fried Rice

Brown Fried Rice

Bok Choy

Bok Choy

Simple Brown Fried Rice and Bok Choy

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups of leftover brown rice (already cooked, can also use white rice)
4 tbsp of virgin coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tbsp chopped scallions
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp grated garlic
1 tsp of sesame oil
1 1/2 lb of baby bok choy, cut in half
salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:
1. Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil to a hot pan.
2. Add 1 tbsp of ginger and 1 tbsp of grated garlic to the oil. Let crisp for 20 seconds.
3. Add the bok choy and cook over medium high heat until tender (3-5 minutes)
4. Remove the bok choy from the pan and in the same pan add 2 tbsp of coconut oil.
5. Over medium high heat, add the two eggs and scramble them.
6. Remove the scrambled eggs from the pan and set aside.
7. Add the last tbsp of coconut oil then add in the brown rice.
8. Add in the soy sauce and the chopped scallions.
9. Stir fry until heated through (about 4 minutes).
10. Add the eggs back in and its ready!

Now after all this all you need is to buy the appropriate buns. We used these guys:

Sesame Bread

Sesame Bread

But you can also use green onion pancakes, or soft steamed buns. I think next time we might do the green onion pancakes, you can buy them frozen from 99 Ranch and they are SO good.

So once you have all your ingredients you can add whatever toppings you like; we did thinly sliced onions, sliced thai chili peppers and chopped scallions. I imagine other chilis, cilantro, and hoisin sauce would all be great with this too.

Toppings: Thai Chilies, Sliced Onions, Scallions

Toppings: Thai Chilies, Sliced Onions, Scallions

And then assemble as you like and eat away.

Asian Braised Pork Buns

Asian Braised Pork Buns

Asian Braised Pork based on this recipe.
Ginger-Scallion Sauce based on this recipe.

TIPS:
– Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar and spicy elements (like the sambal oelek and chili oil) in these recipes, some people like it sweeter, others like it spicier.
– Any other cabbage-like vegetable would complement this dish, if you don’t like/can’t find bok choy: regular cabbage, Chinese cabbage, kale or brussel sprouts would work.
– You can definitely use any oil for the fried rice and bok choy, we like coconut oil because its a good source of medium-chain fatty acids which are great for your health and can aid in weight loss by promoting fat oxidation and reduced food intake (source). They are also coconut-y and delicious! However, naturally if you are allergic to coconut please substitute for vegetable oil.