The Porridge Series: Jamaican Oats Porridge with Coconut Condensed “Milk” (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

I’ve been experimenting with different ways of making porridge, and I think I’m finally ready to share my recipes with you.  I present you with my “Porridge Series.”  Over the next few weeks or so, I will unveil a new porridge recipe.

Jamaicans typically use the British appellation “porridge” when describing oatmeal, and so I’ve grown up calling it “porridge” and not oatmeal, always having to explain to the kids at school that, yes, despite the name, I did, in fact, have oatmeal for breakfast.

Can I just take a moment and tell you how much I love porridge?  I love oats porridge.  I really do.  I can eat it morning, noon or night, warm or cold, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I’m told that my maternal grandfather was the same way.  He made a living as a farmhand working the land.   It is understandable that people working on farms would love this meal because it holds you down and gives you much-needed energy for the long, hot day.

Oats porridge can be eaten in a variety of ways.  My parents would often eat their porridge with Jamaican water crackers, condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.  When I was younger, I got into the weird habit of mixing broken pieces of Premium Plus crackers in my porridge.  I encourage you to find your own way of enjoying this satiating and sustaining breakfast.  Below is the gluten-free, vegan version.

1 cup rolled oats (use gluten-free if needed)

2 ½ cups water

1/8 tsp salt

1/3 cup coconut condensed milk (see below) (optional)

½ cup non-dairy milk

¼ cup coconut or soy creamer (optional, but it would add to the creaminess of the porridge)

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp coconut sugar or brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp chia seeds and/or flaxmeal (optional)

Handful of nuts (walnuts, slivered almonds) (optional)

  1. In a medium sized sauce pan, bring salt and water to a boil. Stir in oats, and cook on medium for 6-8 minutes until oats are fully cooked and the water has been absorbed.
  2. Add the coconut condensed milk, non-dairy milk, creamer, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and stir. The porridge should be creamy and thick, not runny or thin.  However, it’s your porridge, so the consistency is up to you.
  3. Serve hot, and add nuts, seeds and flaxmeal if desired (these add-ins are non-traditional, but they do boost the nutrient profile of the porridge). As the porridge cools, it may become thicker.  Use the non-dairy milk to thin the porridge if and as you see fit.

Coconut Condensed Milk

Pronounced by Jamaicans as “CON-dense” (not “kənˈdenst”)

3 cups coconut milk (or another non-dairy milk of your choice)

½ cup maple syrup

½ tsp vanilla.

In a bowl, mix the ingredients together.

Put the mixed ingredients in a pot and put on stove. Stir constantly on medium heat until the liquid has reduced to at least half.  You should have about a cup of liquid left.

Keep the condensed milk in the fridge.

Tip: Want to make this sugar free?  Try experimenting with other sweeteners such as applesauce, apple butter or stevia.  You can even use maple syrup.

Tip: Try adding 2 tsp rose water, or a 1 tsp of cloves, allspice, ginger, or some nuts and seeds (walnuts, pistachios, slivered almonds or pecans, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds etc.), or dried fruit, or fresh fruit.  Omit the nuts if you are allergic to them.

Tip: I strongly recommend using freshly ground spices, and especially freshly ground nutmeg, in this recipe.  That’s how the porridge is traditionally made.  The nutmeg really makes or breaks this porridge, so do grind it (using a coffee grinder, spice grinder or small nutmeg grinder) over your porridge towards the end of cooking.

“Trying a Ting”: Turn this recipe into an “overnight oats” meal!  In a bowl, mix all of the above ingredients, cover, and leave it in the fridge overnight.  The next morning, your porridge will be ready and good to go!  You can eat it just like that, fresh out of the fridge.  I prefer eating my porridge warm though.  The good thing with this method is that the cooking time is drastically reduced if you do decide to warm your overnight oats.

“Trying a Ting”: Although not traditionally used, modify this recipe by substituting the rolled oats for steel cut oats for a protein and fiber boost.  Just follow the package cooking directions of your steel cut oats, and then add in the milk, creamer, sugar and spices.

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