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 🙂

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.

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Pickled Red Onions

I have always strongly disliked raw red onions. Even though in small amounts they can be tasty and cooked they are delicious, nothing can ruin a salad or a burger like huge chunks of raw red onion. Maybe its just me, but that sharp taste will stay in my mouth all day no matter what I eat or how many times I brush my teeth. Ick.

But pickled red onions. Those are a whole other story.

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions

Two essential things to make raw red onions more palatable are slicing them thinly and adding an acid. For this picked red onion recipe you do both. How handy.

Pickled Red Onions

Don’t judge my handwriting.

For some reason when I think of pickling I think of boiling jars and pickling salts and all kinds of other things that I don’t really want to pursue. But luckily you really only have to do those things if you want your pickled whatevers to last more than an year. With this simpler pickling method they should be good for 3 weeks, which is fine by me.

RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:
1 large red onion
1 1/2 cup of white vinegar
1 cup of sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
3 teaspoons of whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1 cinnamon stick

1. Thinly slice the onion and set apart. If you have a mandolin this would be a great time to bring it out.
2. Set aside the onions in a small bowl.
3. Bring all the other ingredients to a boil.
4. Pour the boiling mixture over the onions in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight (or until completely cool).
5. Once its cool, transfer it to a jar and keep in the fridge. It will keep for three weeks.

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled red onions have even more tang and sweetness, they retain their crunch yet that sharp lingering taste is gone. Plus they turn a lovely pink color and look quite nice on everything.

Pickled Red Onions

It’s such an easy recipe and I’ve been adding them to everything. Made a stir fry with broccoli + cauliflower + kale with ginger and garlic then added the pickled onions on top. Also made a salad with arugula, roasted squash, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, and added the pickled onions to that too. Lastly, have not made this yet (am currently waiting on the good will of the avocado ripening on my counter)but plan to make carnitas tacos with guacamole and pickled red onions. That jar will be gone in no time 🙂

TIPS:
1. Feel free to customize the spices. Thyme, rosemary, jalapenos and lime would be great additions as well depending what you’re going for.
2. And the amount of sugar.
3. If you want your onions a bit softer you can throw them into the boiling vinegar mixture for 20 seconds before draining and letting it sit until cool.
4. If you don’t have white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or another more neutral tasting vinegar would work nicely.

Greek Fattoush Salad & The Best Healthy Tzatziki Sauce

Salads get a bad rep as a main course because oftentimes what we picture as a stereotypical salad are just the saddest little leaves of iceberg lettuce with some grainy tomatoes, limp cucumber and dry shreds of carrots strewn over top. When people say they don’t like salads though I believe they just haven’t found the salad for them yet. There’s a salad out there you’ll like.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

From Thai som tam papaya salad with peanuts and shrimp to warm spinach salads with bacon, mushrooms and a poached egg. Jean George’s carrot and avocado salad is a must order at his restaurant ((or must make at home) and the pomegranate seeds on Joy the Baker’s apple and brussel sprouts salad really make the whole dish.

Anyways. Lately my favorite salads have been more Mediterranean leaning. I love fattoush salad which is a Lebanese salad that normally has lettuce (or purslane), cucumber, tomatoes, mint, radish, pita chips and a tangy dressing made of lime, garlic, olive oil and sumac. It sounds terribly simple but its quite addicting, plus a perfect complement to fatty, charred gyros. Another classic I think most people are familiar with is greek salad which has tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, feta, red onions and a dressing of red wine vinegar, oregano and olive oil.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

So my clever idea that mostly arose out of coincidentally having most of these ingredients at home was to combine both these salads. Unfortunately I did not have sumac lying around so I omitted it but I highly recommend it if you can find it. It’s a reddish tangy spice that really adds a lot to the dressing and almost vaguely tastes like cranberries.

Lastly I added some simply cooked shrimp to the salad and made some amazing tzatziki sauce to go with this salad (and so that I could I dip extra pita chips in). This is an amazing tzatziki sauce recipe that’s pretty healthy to boot.

Chopping Away

Chopping Away

Chopped

Chopped

Chopped x2

Chopped x2

INGREDIENTS:

Serves 2 as a meal and 4 as a side.

1 pound of Persian cucumbers or 1 English cucumber
2 tomatoes
1 cup chopped romaine
1 cup of fresh mint leaves
1 cup of plain salted pita chips (add more if you like)
1/3 cup of kalamata olives
2-3 ounces of good feta (the one packed in olive oil is my favorite)
Juice of 2 limes (or lemons)
4 teaspoons of ground sumac
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Mix the lime juice, sumac, oregano, red wine vinegar, minced garlic cloves and olive oil into a small bowl. Whisk vigorously until incorporated and set aside.
2. Chop the tomatoes and cucumbers into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to a bowl.
3. Add in romaine, mint leaves, pita chips, and kalamata olives.
4. Add dressing and toss everything together.
5. Crumble the feta over top.
6. It’s ready! I would add a protein to make this a meal or serve as a side.

Greek Fattoush Salad

Greek Fattoush Salad

Now for the tzatziki. I love having a creamy side to have with the tangy salad but this tzatziki is great for serving alongside kebabs, pita chips, lemon shrimp skewers, you name it. It is especially good as part of a meal when you dollop it over rice.

Tzaziki

Tzaziki

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup fat free greek yogurt (strained if you want it thicker, I used Trader Joe’s brand but I like Oikos too)
1 cup fat free sour cream
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 cucumber (any kind) peeled, seeded and diced into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk together.
2. Add in all the ingredients except for the lemon and whisk together.
3. Add the juice of the lemon, adjusting for how tart you want it. Combine.
4. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over top before serving.

Tzaziki

Tzaziki

So yes. This is how I ate my huge salad. The good thing about this salad is that its quite substantial but because the dressing is fairly healthy you can eat a lot of until you’re quite full. When trying to be healthy its generally good to always control portion size but when you’re eating a big bowl of what mainly consists of cucumbers and tomatoes you can pretty much dismiss portion control and eat until you are pre-tty full. Provided you didn’t go too crazy with the pita chips.

Final Product: Greek Fattoush Salad with Shrimp and Tzaziki

Final Product: Greek Fattoush Salad with Shrimp and Tzaziki

This is the final product. I pretty much made this in a large salad serving bowl and then just kind of ate out of the bowl. Even after eating until my post-gym induced ravenous heart’s content I still have a good amount of salad left for the next day. The pita chips do get a tad soggy so if you have extra this is either an excuse for eating all the pita chips and adding more next time or for picking them out when you eat the salad later.

Close Up

Close Up

Easy Apricot & Honey Cobbler

So even though we had an apricot tree in our yard growing up I believe this is the first time I’ve had fresh apricots. As far as that tree goes the birds always got to the apricots first. So it was about time I secured some of these guys to do as I please with them.

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricots are really good fresh, if you mind the skin like I do it is a bit of a hassle to peel them and sizing up this recipe might be a bit cumbersome. But fear not, there are ways to do it faster by dropping them into boiling water and then ice water so the peels just rub off (see here).

Apricots

Apricots

Apricot is a wonderful little fruit that goes very well with spices (cinnamon, cloves, you name it) and chillier weather food. But since its been so sunny and hot out I decided to forgo any wintry ingredients and go with something that would bring out more fresh and summer-y flavors. Quite simply I thought it was best to thus let the apricots stand out on their own and the only other major flavoring I added was buckwheat honey. Apricot is tart and sweet and this darker honey has deep caramel but at the same time floral notes that play well with the apricot.

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Spoonful of Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Spoonful of Apricot & Honey Cobbler

This recipe is designed to be a) super easy and b) for one person. I imagine you would be hard pressed to prepare a cobbler for one if it wasn’t dreadfully easy and peeling those little guys was really a rate limiting step that discouraged me from attempting to size this up. But perhaps you are a more generous person than I am 🙂

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with Greek Yogurt

INGREDIENTS:

6 apricots, peeled and halved
3 tablespoons of buckwheat honey
4 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of cold butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon oats

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 375.
1. Toss the apricot halves with the honey and 1 tablespoon of flour until coated well with no obvious lumps of flour. Add this to a small ramekin that can go in the oven.
2. In a separate bowl combine the remaining, flour, butter, brown sugar and oats.
3. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles.
4. Add this to the top of your fruit mixture
5. Bake for 15 minutes in a 375 F degree oven.
6. Serve with ice cream, creme anglaise or greek yogurt.

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with a Dollop of Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with a Dollop of Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with a Dollop of Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with a Dollop of Greek Yogurt

Perhaps the most important thing I could tell you is that this needs to be eaten hot out of the oven. Give it a couple minutes until its not bubbling lava but as soon as its reasonably still hot you must put a scoop of ice cream over it or dig a little hole in the middle of it and pour some creme anglaise or greek yogurt right in the center of it and watch it as it seeps into all the little nooks and crannies. I chose greek yogurt as I was sort of being healthy but mostly and very sadly did not have ice cream in the house. Worry not though, it was still amazing.

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with Greek Yogurt

Apricot & Honey Cobbler with Greek Yogurt

TIPS:
– Other dark honeys like avocado honey can be used. Really any honey would be great and they would all change the final flavor a little. I think orange blossom honey and sage honey would be lovely lighter honey alternatives to buckwheat.
– Other fruit could be used; namely peaches, nectarines, any berry or whatever your heart desires. Maybe not bananas though I don’t know how a banana cobbler would fare.
– Do not “over rub” the crumble as you can warm the butter too much, you need cold bits of butter in your dough so its flaky and crumbly.

5 Minute Healthy Salad – Strawberries, Feta, Almonds, Turkey + Thyme

One of the best ways to eat healthy during the work week is to BYOL – Bring Your Own Lunch. Cooking a bigger portion ensures you have extra leftovers to bring to work. However there are days when there are no leftovers to be had and very little time in the morning to prep something to take to work. Even though I have turned to Trader Joe’s frozen meals and PB&J’s, I also learned how to make tasty, filling salads that I can throw together in 5 minutes. I love salads with berries and this an easy strawberry salad that requires minimal cooking and will be ready to go in your trusty tupperware in less time than you take to shower in the morning.

strawberry, salad

Strawberry Salad

The best part about this recipe is that the basic concept is there but you can substitute whatever you have in your fridge: if I don’t have strawberries I throw in blueberries, if I don’t have feta I use goat cheese…No turkey? A tiny bit of bacon is not going to kill you. It’s all good 🙂

strawberry, salad

Strawberry Salad

INGREDIENTS:

Mixed greens
5 strawberries
2-3 slices of roasted turkey breast (not the cheap rubber-y kind please)
Handful of almonds
Feta
3 sprigs of thyme
2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat up a small frying pan and add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to it.
2. Rip up the turkey in small pieces and add it to the hot pan. Season to taste and let it get crispy and brown around the edges.
3. While the turkey is browning fill your plate/bowl with the mixed greens and slice up your strawberries and place them on top of the greens.
4. Add almonds, thyme leaves, then crumble feta on top.
5. Add the turkey thats browned.
6. Combine the 2 tbsp of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and honey in a small bowl then whisk together and season to taste. If you are eating this right away pour it on top and toss to combine. If taking to work add it to the bottom of the container so everything doesn’t wilt and you can toss it all together before eating.

Amounts in this recipe are fairly loose because you should not be measuring things that early in the morning. Just add however much you want of each ingredient. I recommend adding A LOT of toppings so that the salad feels like a meal and you’re not just eating greens by themselves like a rabbit :/

You could also always add more meat like chicken breast. I like using meat as just an accent as opposed to the main ingredient in this salad because reducing your meat intake is good for you (but hard to do!) and although we tend to cook full meals for dinner (complete with steaks or salmon filets and whatnot) there are so many tasty ingredients you don’t miss it in this salad.

Strawberry

Strawberry

A great way to make salads more flavorful too is to use herbs like salad greens. If you have ever had tabbouleh or fattoush or other Middle Eastern salads, they use parsley and mint as if they were salad greens not just accent herbs. So have herbs on hand! I grow rosemary, basil, parsley and thyme. All are doing pretty well except for the parsley which apparently cats like to eat…

For this salad basil, rosemary, or mint would also pair beautifully with the strawberries.

Thyme

Thyme

Basil

Basil

Rosemary

Rosemary

So this is a lovely 5 minute salad for spring, look out for future posts on a super fast nicoise style salad and citrus-avocado based salad…

TIPS:
– If you don’t have strawberries: blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries would all do – just make sure its fresh fruit!
– We used fat free feta but using real feta makes the salad creamier and using goat cheese even more so!
– If you don’t have almonds, hazelnuts would be particularly good here. Or else pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachio and most nuts would work…perhaps not peanuts.
– Candied nuts always are really good in berry salads as well! Those have a lot of calories so we stayed away from them this time.
– Any mixed greens maybe with the exception of iceberg lettuce could be used as a base – butter lettuce, romaine, spinach, etc.
– If you use a pre-made low fat dressing that would save you even more time!