An ode to the weekend

I love breakfast. After much thought and deliberation I have to admit that breakfast is indeed my favourite meal of the day.

So it’s odd that I rarely allow myself to enjoy it; I wake up late, admittedly, and most of my work only kicks off later in the day. So I take my time, I potter around, I wait until I’m properly hungry. Then, bam – I need food in me. I briefly consider making something different, but I love my old oats-banana-cinnamon-nutbutter-molasses combo so much that I decide to stick with it at least one more day because right now, I’m just hungry. Tomorrow, I say, I’ll try something different.

Of course you can guess where that goes.

Now, Saturday has long been my favourite day of the week. It’s been a long time since I trained on a Saturday, and even when we had a brief stint of getting up in early for spinning followed by strength&conditioning, we’d still be done with a large majority of the weekend still ahead of us. So, every week, I promise myself that on Saturday, I will make a special breakfast.

And like any good resolution, that one also flies out the window when Saturday finally rolls around.

All week I have been tantalised by chocolate-and-berry treats concocted by some of my favourite food bloggers, all aimed at brightening up a loved one’s day or at treating oneself to something special in the name of the Patron Saint of love. All week I told myself; on Saturday, I’ll take the time to finally make that.

Well, friends, I didn’t. On the contrary, I accidentally slept in on Saturday and leapt out of bed to some family chaos. It wasn’t until noon that I was having breakfast, but in France separated from my usual ingredients I had to think on my feet. For the first time in years I had a desire to put cocoa into my porridge, something I did a few times in university and was always disappointed by. I knew we had a few other things that not only would go well with cocoa, oats, and my mood, but which would also tie in nicely with the Valentine’s Day themes both in colour and in message – this is a warm bowl of “I love my body and I love my soul, and I’m going to do something nice for us both”.Chocolate-cranberry-almond oatmeal

Now I’m hardly the first person to invent oatmeal, or porridge, or whatever you call it. No more than I am the first person to pair chocolate and tart cranberries together, or chocolate and creamy almonds, and certainly not all three.

But a blog post is about more than that, I feel. It’s about appreciating what we have done for ourselves, and it’s about encouraging others to take the time to do things that make them feel good.

So by all means, ignore the recipe, but don’t ignore the message; I have never given two hoots (or even one hoot) about Valentine’s Day and I haven’t started doing so, but the flurry of cocoa-laden recipes this week reminded me that sometimes, it’s just nice to have an excuse. And it helps if that excuse is delicious but also secretly healthy:

For one serving, I used:

  • 1/4 cup oats
  • water and a splash of oat milk (forgot to measure these; I normally add liquid to just beyond oat “soaking” point)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp dried cranberries
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • and some flaked almonds and extra cranberries for garnish

Cocoa makes porridge super low-maintenance, as it instantly makes it all creamy even if you’ve added too much water. I added the oats, liquid and salt first and heated it on a low heat whilst stirring, until the liquid had been absorbed. I then stirred in the cocoa and almonds, making sure there were no lumps. Then I folded in the rest, served, and garnished.

Chocolate-cranberry-almond oatmealThe result was better than I expected; soft and creamy with a hint of richness from the cocoa but not overly sweet nor bitter. Occasional juicy sweet bites of cranberry added all the sweetness I want from a breakfast, and the flaked almond garnish added just the right amount of delicate crunch.

Other great toppings would include almond butter, thinly sliced banana, and desiccated coconut. Vanilla or coconut yoghurt would be great too, and you could layer the porridge and yoghurt with fresh fruit. For a greater hit of flavour, you could add a drop of almond or vanilla extract, or you could use coconut milk as your liquid. And of course, add as much sweetener as you like; agave, coconut sugar, maple syrup… I would certainly want a healthy drizzle of the stuff if I was having this for a healthy dessert or an indulgent snack!

Basically, it’s porridge, it’s made to be dressed up. Have fun, make it your own. Have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack. Do what makes you happy, do what makes you feel good. I’d love to say we don’t need a day of the week or the month or the year to do something nice for ourselves, but we do, so make sure you make the most of it!

What’s your favourite meal of the day, and how do you celebrate it? Let me know!