Vegan protein porridge - The First Mess
Protein porridge and toppings - The First Mess
white lentils (urad dal), steel-cut oats & quinoa - The First Mess
soaked grains and lentils - The First Mess

I have this love/hate relationship with working out. I love that it helps me clear my head a bit, the feeling of accomplishment when I knock it out first thing in the morning, and the post workout eats like this protein porridge. But, making it into a daily constant is a struggle for me. If I slip up two days in a row, I get into “Why bother?” mode and focus on other things instead of making that time to move my one precious bod.

I just finished listening to The Power of Habit, and when he describes the concept of “small wins” and how we build habits around those wins—whether it’s while we’re running errands and we have a “Treat yourself” moment, or we just mentally acknowledge that we did a good thing once the thing is done, something clicked for me. Small wins might make me 100% love working out.

I try to run 5 times a week. It isn’t a super long run or anything, but I still get up early to do it. At the end, when I’m winded and overheated, I push myself to do a 30 second sprint–always in front of the same 5-6 houses. I just dig deep. Then, I do a sweaty and blissed out walk home because I feel like a boss for running so fast with minimal gas left in the tank. It’s a small win that starts my day off with a lot of positivity and self-confidence.

But the point of all of this is the post-workout eats. On any morning below 20 degrees, porridge has to be my first meal. It’s my favourite comfort food outside of anything served with marinara sauce. I was thinking about making a protein porridge of sorts, but I didn’t want to go the protein powder route. Then I remembered the little bag of white lentils (or urad dal) that I had in my pantry.

And it really works! I soak the grains and lentils overnight and then cook them together with almond milk, a bit of vanilla, water, and salt. Once you load up the toppings, you wouldn’t even know that the lentils are in the mix. They honestly have the same level of chew that the oats do and they help to starch the whole thing up real nice. It’s so creamy. I think this might be my go-to porridge mix for a while. The idea came to me on a run, too! That’s two small wins!

Protein porridge in the works - The First Mess
Vegan protein porridge - The First Mess
Vegan protein porridge - The First Mess

Print the recipe here!
If you’re making this ahead for meal prep, cool the porridge down completely. Then, portion 1-cup servings of the cooked porridge into sealable containers. Store these in the fridge. When you’re ready to reheat, scrape out the porridge into a small saucepan and add a big splash of plant-based milk. Set the pan over medium heat and stir frequently until porridge is simmering. Serve hot with toppings.
-The soaking isn’t totally necessary, but I do find that the porridge doesn’t feel as heavy when I do take the time to do it. Also, the soaking seems to mellow the lentils a touch more. Your choice!
-For a quick compote here, I combined a handful of chopped strawberries, a big handful of blueberries, a drizzle of maple syrup, splash of water, a pinch of vanilla powder, and a squeeze of lemon juice in a small saute pan over medium heat. As the berries cooked, I mashed them with a fork to make it saucy. Once it thickened a bit, I took it off the heat.
-I think you could use the more common red split lentils here, but you could reduce the amount of liquid by a ½ cup. Also, the colour definitely won’t be as creamy, but you’ll get the same effect overall.
-White lentils can be purchased through many outlets online, and for my Canadians: I’ve been buying them at Bulk Barn.

½ cup steel-cut oats (certified gluten-free if necessary)
½ cup quinoa
½ cup white lentils/urad dal
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups filtered water + extra
2 cups plant-based milk + extra
¾ teaspoon sea salt
¾ teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)

ground cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger
fruit compote
nut/seed butter
coconut flakes
chopped nuts/seeds
extra plant-based milk, warmed up

In a large bowl, combine the steel-cut oats, quinoa, lentils, and apple cider vinegar. Cover the grains with hot water and leave to soak overnight.

The next day, drain and rinse the grains and lentils. In a large saucepan, bring the 2 cups of water, plant-based milk, salt, and vanilla powder, if using, to a simmer. Add the grains and lentils to the pan and stir. Bring the porridge to a strong simmer. Cook the porridge until thickened and creamy, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes total. Add more liquid if the porridge seems dry.

Serve the protein porridge hot with plenty of toppings. See headnote for make-ahead instructions.

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