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.

Bronx Pizza

Bronx Pizza Counter

Bronx Pizza Counter

Ok. This is not somewhere where you come on a date night and order a Pinot Noir then linger over dinner while picking between pizza with zucchini blossoms and fresh figs or mashed potatoes or whatever is trendy to throw on pizzas these days. This is somewhere to stop by and grab fast, fresh and delicious no-nonsense pizza with friends before hitting the bars or picking up a whole pizza to go when you’re to lazy to cook and you just want to eat yummy pizza  in front of the TV (it happens).

Bronx Pizza

Bronx Pizza

Bronx Pizza is located on Washington St. between 3rd and 4th in Hillcrest. The place looks rather small on the outside but there’s actually a lot of seating inside. When you walk up all the pizzas available by the slice are displayed. You walk in, tell them what you want, pay (cash only) and then go find a seat. It’s efficient, and if you see a long line fear not because they easily clear long lines and even though there were 5 people ahead of us we waited less than 5 minutes.

Pizzas

Pizzas

They have all the traditionals flavors – pepperoni, cheese, vegetarian, meat lover’s – and some more inventive options but nothing too crazy – pesto, white pizza (plain, with spinach or with mushrooms), tomato basil, pepperoni and peppers, artichoke pizza.

White Pizza with Spinach

White Pizza with Spinach

ENTREE: We ordered the Tomato-Basil (actually a white pizza with no sauce and fresh tomatoes and basil on top), the Pepperoni and Peppers (jalapeno and cherry to be exact) and the White Pizza with Mushrooms (mozzarella, ricotta, mushrooms). We loved the pepperoni with peppers; it was spicy, salty and cheesy with the cherry peppers adding more dimension and taste to basic pepperoni with jalapenos. The white pizza with mushrooms was also excellent. They mix the ricotta with herbs so it has more flavor and white pizza pairs well with mushrooms. The mushrooms were also well-cooked instead of those paper-y dry things you get with a lot of chain pizzas. The tomato basil was nice but rather bland we will probably order the artichoke pizza next time instead. The crust wasn’t super thin but it was definitely New York style, we would have preferred a little more char and a little more chew but with the toppings it wasn’t bad at all.

Pepperoni and Peppers (left) and Tomato-Basil (right)

Pepperoni and Peppers (left) and Tomato-Basil (right)

White Pizza with Mushrooms

White Pizza with Mushrooms

Overall we really liked Bronx Pizza, its a no frills establishment serving good food and its cheap and fast. We will be returning for the pesto pizza and the arthichoke pizza (and for how fast it is!).

Bronx Pizza Window

Bronx Pizza Window

CHECK:
Pepperoni and Peppers $2.50
White Pizza with Mushrooms $2.50
Tomato-Basil $2.50
TOTAL: $8.10 (w/ tax)

Bronx Pizza
111 Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103
www.bronxpizza.com

Easy Roast Chicken Dinner

There is a show on Food Network where a lady layers ready made Jell-O cup filling with fruits and cookies to make makeshift trifles. Although we have never done this and cannot attest to how good it would taste, we like the concept of the show of mixing ready-made ingredients with cooking from scratch in order to make fast meals that don’t come straight from a box (only a little from a box).

For days when all you want to do is stop by Chipotle and get a burrito or order in pizza we have an alternate solution. Instead of Chipotle, stop by your local grocery store and pick up a rotisserie chicken, boxed mac and cheese, brussel sprouts, mushrooms and shallots. You’ll have a lovely meal in no time.

What we propose is serving the rotisserie chicken as is (the main part of the meal is completely ready), adding some mushroom bechamel sauce to your mac and cheese to kick it up a notch and then make a quick brussel sprout hash. Easy and delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

CHICKEN:
1 rotisserie chicken

Rotisserie Chicken

Rotisserie Chicken

MAC AND CHEESE:
1 box of mac and cheese mix (we like Trader Joe’s Organic White Cheddar Mac n Cheese)
1 cup of milk (heated)
1 sprig of thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup of sliced mushrooms (we like baby portobello for this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite!)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup of shredded sharp white Cheddar
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

Directions:
1. In a small pan, saute the mushrooms with the olive oil and thyme until brown (about 4-5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper
2. Melt the butter in a deep skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps from forming.
4. Whisk the milk it into the butter and flour mixture.
5. Continue to whisk vigorously, and cook until the mixture is smooth.
6. Stir in the the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese.
7. Add the mushrooms then season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
8. Prepare the boxed mac and cheese according to instructions.
9. Add the mushroom bechamel sauce to the prepared mac and cheese.

Mushroom White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Mushroom White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

INGREDIENTS:

BRUSSEL SPROUT HASH WITH CARAMELIZED SHALLOTS:
3 tbsp butter, divided
1/2 pound shallots, thinly sliced
Coarse kosher salt
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tsp sugar
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup water

Directions:
1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium heat.
2. Add shallots; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper.
3. Sauté until soft and golden, about 10 minutes.
4. Add vinegar and sugar. Stir until brown and glazed, about 3 minutes.
5. Halve brussels sprouts lengthwise. Cut lengthwise into thin (1/8-inch) slices.
6. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
7. Add sprouts; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown at edges, 6 minutes.
8. Add 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon of butter.
9. Sauté until most of water evaporates and sprouts are tender but still bright green, 3 minutes.
10. Add shallots; season with salt and pepper.

Brussel Sprout Hash

Brussel Sprout Hash

Now just assemble everything together and you have dinner! It definitely still feels like a home cooked meal but without all the effort.

Dinner!

Dinner!

Mac and cheese sauce inspired by Tyler Florence’s Mac and Cheese Recipe
Brussel Sprout Hash recipe from epicurious

TIPS:
– The mac and cheese would also be wonderful with wild mushrooms and maybe a dash of truffle oil if you’re feeling fancy.
– We suggest you use mac and cheese that’s a tad nicer than the bright orange stuff, there are many boxed mac and cheese mixes that are tasty without using that many artificial ingredients.
– Other cheeses that would be good in the bechamel sauce are subbing some of the cheddar for mozzarella (for melty stretchiness) and maybe adding some parmesan for taste.
– Finding brussel sprouts that are already sliced thinly would make the brussel sprout hash prep quite speedy.