I normally welcome green smoothies for breakfast. But it’s winter. And unless I’m on a mission to conquer the 10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse, where my daily meals are fixed in stone, why not opt instead for a steaming hot bowl of goodness? Guzzling a frosty in the frigid pre-dawn hours and then opening your front door to an arctic blast is a rather jarring way to begin the day. I’ll do it if I have to. But when I don’t have to, I don’t wanna.
Back in the day, before I cut back on grains, I would have turned to oatmeal. But oatmeal gives me gas. And makes me itch. And feels like a sack of lead marbles rolling around in the pit of my stomach every time I eat it. I did some reading, and some elimination testing, and have since come to the conclusion that oatmeal is not my friend. So we broke up. Life is too short to walk around feeling sick, bloated and itchy.
But I still missed hot cereal. Especially when the weather is below freezing outside.
Salvation arrived unexpectedly one day as I was glancing through my new cookbook Easy Paleo Meals, by Kelly V. Brozyna. My mind set on finding new dinner entrees, I wasn’t even looking for breakfast stuff. As I flipped through the pages, I noticed a recipe for coconut porridge mix. GTFOH, I muttered to myself. I didn’t know you could make porridge with coconut. I called my mother. Did you know about this? I quizzed her. No, she said. Mi’ nevah ‘ear bout dat yet. Yuh sure seh a nuh hominy dem a chat ’bout? (Patois-to-English Translation: No. I’ve never heard of that to date. Are you sure they’re not referring to hominy porridge?)
Jamaicans have a ton of other uses for fresh grated coconut but porridge, apparently, was not one of them. That spot is dominated by cornmeal porridge, a creamy delicious concoction which Jamaicans are fed from the time they are 3 months to 103 years. (No teeth required.)
Back to the coconut porridge recipe. Of course, I tried it. This is good, I remember thinking, as a licked my test spoon. But it can be better. So I started fooling around with both the recipe and method.
First, I abandoned the food processor method altogether as a way to get the unsweetened coconut flakes and flax meal finely ground. It was still too gritty for my taste. Brozyna had warned that if a high-powered blender (like my Blendtec, or a Vita-Mix) was used to reach a finer consistency, it would quickly turn the coconut powder to coconut butter, which would harden if stored in the refrigerator for later use. To her credit, she was right. But I didn’t care about that, because I knew that I could always whisk it back into the hot almond milk and reconstitute it with a minute or so of extra cooking time. Grit was the greater sin here. A deal breaker, actually. If I couldn’t find a way to smooth it out, I was no longer interested.
Second, the original base mix was a bit bland for my tastes, so I kicked it up with some additional spices and flavoring, like nutmeg, cacao powder, vanilla extract and maple sugar. Finally, to boost the nutritional and protein content, I added chia seeds. And of course, I had to extend the tropical theme by adding some sliced mango to the banana and blueberry topping.
The end result was nothing short of spectacular. Hot cereal, completely grain-free, was back on the breakfast menu! I am forever indebted to Kelly V. Brozyna for her original recipe, which gave me a solid foundation on which to build. (By the way, her entire book is a must-have, comprehensive collection of Paleo offerings. At just under $10 for the Kindle format, it’s a bargain! Click on the book image or title link below to purchase, and be sure to visit her website The Spunky Coconut.)
Here’s my tweaked version:
Chocolate Coconut Porridge (adapted from an original coconut porridge recipe in Easy Paleo Meals, by Kelly Brozyna)
Porridge Mix Ingredients:
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon cacao powder
2 pinches ground cinnamon
2 pinches ground nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (add slightly more at the end as needed, to reach desired consistency)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maple sugar
additional cinnamon, to taste
- In a small saucepan, heat the almond milk and vanilla extract over low heat, and bring to a slow simmer.
- Put the coconut into a high-powered blender* and pulse a few times, until the flakes resemble more of a powder. Add the rest of the porridge mix ingredients and pulse for an additional 10 or 12 seconds, or until the mixture turns into a pasty sludge. Scrape down the sides as needed.
- Add the porridge mixture to the hot almond milk, and whisk until well incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stir in the maple sugar. Cook the mixture for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute, and remove from the heat. It should thicken. (If you like a thinner consistency, add a little more almond milk.)
- Serve immediately in a bowl, and top with your choice of fresh fruit.
*I recommend a Blendtec or Vita-Mix for best results, but those are expensive. If you’re working with a blender that’s less powerful, simply increase the pulse time to get the mixture as finely ground as possible, scraping down as you go.
I’m not done adapting this recipe. Next: scaling it up for multiple servings (Brozyna does provide a handy 5-serving conversion, but it’s for the dry-mix, food-processor version for those who don’t mind a coarser textured cereal), and continuing to test and refine the process of reconstituting the mix in hot liquid from a cold, solid mass. Which is critical to making this mix recipe practical for families, and for ensuring refrigerator-to-stove success. My goal is to prep several days’ worth of servings in advance, so that total cooking time on busy mornings is reduced to 3-5 minutes.
But as is, this recipe for one serving still comes together fairly quickly when made from scratch, provided you’re prepared to pre-measure out the dry ingredients and have them ready to dump, pulse and cook, in short order.
Just like packaged oatmeal. Except much better tasting, more wholesome and filling, and with less tummy rumbling. Thanks, Kelly!
New Year, New Actions. Don’t forget to check out my other posts in this series: New Year’s Resolutions: Pixie Dust and Fairy Farts and New Year’s Action #1: Eat more superfoods! The 7-Minute Sweet Potato Hash Recipe that will transform your mornings.