Vegan protein porridge - The First Messpin it!Protein porridge and toppings - The First Messpin it!white lentils (urad dal), steel-cut oats & quinoa - The First Messpin it!soaked grains and lentils - The First Messpin it!
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, the post workout eats (OBVIOUSLY). 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 sorta 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 and force it out, even though my legs feel like very heavy jelly at that point. 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.

So I think about that small win when my alarm goes off at 5:30, and how awesome it’s gonna be when I stroll up to my house with my red cheeks, slightly matted ponytail, and all of my pride for giving myself that time and pushing through. It’s honestly working for me! Hopefully the runs get a bit longer over time with a few extra sprints sprinkled throughout.

But the point of all of this is the post-workout eats. Lately, with this sticky heat, I’ve been all over this one particular smoothie that is unabashedly greenish-brown (but really tasty!). But on any morning below 20-ish degrees, porridge has to be my morning meal. It’s my favourite comfort food outside of anything served with marinara (¯\_(ツ)_/¯). I was thinking about adding a lil’ protein punch to my porridge, 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 figured that cooking them with steel-cut oats and quinoa might just be crazy enough to work.

And it did work! 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 for the price of one ;)

Protein porridge in the works - The First Messpin it!Vegan protein porridge - The First Messpin it!Vegan protein porridge - The First Messpin it!
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 porridge hot with plenty of toppings. See headnote for make-ahead instructions.

  • Claire02/08/2017 - 3:43 am

    Can you substitute the oats for millet or more quinoa/lentils?ReplyCancel

    • Laura02/08/2017 - 7:33 am

      Hi Claire,
      I think you could replace the oats with millet or more quinoa (I wouldn’t do more lentils), but I would cut back the amount of liquid by a full cup. Then, as the porridge is simmering and looking like it’s done, if you need to add more water/milk, add it to your liking near the end. Also, it goes without saying that porridge won’t be as creamy if you take the oats out of the equation. Let me know what it’s like if you try it!

  • Sonja02/08/2017 - 7:02 am

    This sounds so good! I love oat and quinoa porridge, so I am definitely trying this one out… Great idea to add the lentils!ReplyCancel

  • Anya02/08/2017 - 7:19 am

    This is genius! Will try asap :)ReplyCancel

  • Louise Skadhauge02/08/2017 - 8:44 am

    5 times a week! Wow that’s impressive and a high goal, good for you when you achieve it :) otherwise I wouldn’t stress too much over any “missed” days… but that’s just me :)
    I’m also really into mixing different cereals in my breakfast bowls these days, gluten free oats and buckwheat are my current favorites :)ReplyCancel

  • Malin | Good Eatings02/08/2017 - 8:57 am

    What an awesome Idea Laura! Om going to try this for sure and so good to prepare a few portions in one go to heat through the week with breakfasts that take a little longer. Thanks for the recipe and sharing your workout story, new habits are in the making here as well but running is still scary to me. Good on you for sticking by it! ✨ReplyCancel

  • Carrie02/08/2017 - 9:18 am

    Thanks so much! Always looking for good breakfast options-especially post workout since my husband is in the military and needs a lot of fuel each morning. Cannot wait to try this once the weather cools down here.ReplyCancel

  • Kris02/08/2017 - 10:24 am

    Totally genius!ReplyCancel

  • Nadia02/08/2017 - 10:40 am

    This looks SO good. I will HAVE to give it a try!ReplyCancel

  • Ewlake02/08/2017 - 11:20 am

    What a fantastic idea – look forward to trying it. And I love your blue-splatter dishes – could you share the source? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laura02/08/2017 - 11:36 am

      They’re from IKEA! I got them on clearance there a couple months ago, so I’m not sure if they’re still carrying them. Crossing my fingers for ya ;)

  • Becky02/08/2017 - 12:27 pm

    Amen to the little victories!! As someone who also tries to run/workout on a regular basis, I’ve found that having visual markers while I’m running makes a HUGE difference if I’m out of gas. Like, “Just make it to that green house,” and after that, “Just make it to the next stop sign.” Before I know it, I’m home! :)

    Love this recipe idea too! I think I’ll try it with red lentils, but is it crucial to use steel-cut oats or will regular rolled oats work just as well? Thank you! -BeckyReplyCancel

    • Laura02/08/2017 - 12:59 pm

      Thank you for this, Becky! I use steel-cut because I like the bit of chew that they bring to the table. If you’re using rolled oats, you’ll have to reduce the amount of liquid considerably–by at least a cup. Also, rolled oats will totally break down in the amount of time needed to cook the quinoa and lentils. Might make for a creamier porridge though? I haven’t tried any of these substitutions, so can’t guarantee any results, but even the worst porridge is easily salvageable with maple syrup ;)

  • Valentina | The Blue Bride02/08/2017 - 12:36 pm

    I’m 100% with your about working out. I grew up in ballet class – 5-6 days a week for at least 3 hours at a time – so when I left it was really difficult for me to find a way to move my body that keeps me interested. I get bored easily.
    Anyway, using urad dal is such a GREAT idea! Can’t wait to try it :DReplyCancel

  • Cassie Autumn Tran02/08/2017 - 4:27 pm

    There are definitely some habits that I want to incorporate into my lifestyle as well! I’m pretty solid with getting my butt to the gym or fitting in a full session anywhere, but it’s stretching that gets me in trouble–I just NEVER do it! I know that stretching post-workout is so important, hence I want to slowly add a minute of stretching then consequently increase the time up to five minutes by a few weeks from now!
    Anyways, sweet lentils? Sounds like a great plan to me! This porridge looks delicious for the fall and winter! I’m already loving oatmeal in the summer as long as it’s at a suitable temperature! So why not?ReplyCancel

  • Natalia03/08/2017 - 4:36 am

    So much inspiration in your post, Laura! I so admire you for this! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Charlotte03/08/2017 - 6:11 am

    I turned this into the most deliciously creamy but spicy savoury breakfast bowl with some pulverised fresh ginger, wilted spinach, fresh vine tomatoes and a drizzle of Sriracha (obviously!). Can’t wait to try the sweet version though- peanut butter and roasted strawberries at the ready :DReplyCancel

  • Abby @ Heart of a Baker03/08/2017 - 9:04 am

    I sooo feel you on this! I love love my hot yoga classes, but I always go through this whole WTF am I doing I’m going to die thing before feeling like a boss when I’m finished. Some days I just have to tell myself to get through one more flow or more more vinyasa and I’ll be closer to eating, ha!ReplyCancel

  • Alex03/08/2017 - 5:26 pm

    Good for you, girl! Running 5 times a week! I can barely work myself up to 2 :( That’s a giant victory as far as I’m concerned.

    I love that this porridge can be made in advance and reheated. And it’s such a beauty, too!ReplyCancel

  • Maria04/08/2017 - 7:48 pm

    Never would have thought to put lentils in a b-fast porridge but I bet the flavor works wonderfully. Always looking to infuse more protein into my diet!! Running has been kicking my butt lately, so I’m scarfing nuts and dumping hemp and chia on everything like its going out of style. This looks more delicious and makes me feel a bit less like a squirrel;)ReplyCancel

  • Sherry05/08/2017 - 10:15 pm

    Oh my goodness, Laura, WHITE LENTILS in a grain porridge, how brilliant! A million thanks for sharing this stroke of genius, girl! (Ok, a non-breakfast lentil tip: sneaking puréed red lentils into your summer gazpacho ups the protein on it, too …)
    I never love working out, seriously, I’m so sorry to admit it but it’s true. However, the positive capacity for developing good habits: that really resonates. Thanks for that.ReplyCancel

  • Susan09/08/2017 - 12:42 pm

    What a great recipe! I cannot wait to try this out after my workout routine, thanks for the share!ReplyCancel

  • Mid-week Musings - Warm & Rosy09/08/2017 - 3:55 pm

    […] This beautiful protein porridge from The First Mess. I love the idea of using white lentils to naturally up the protein […]ReplyCancel

  • Meg | Meg is Well11/08/2017 - 11:26 am

    I’m the exact same way! Even though I always feel better after I exercise, if I miss a couple days in a row I start to get in the habit of not making the effort. Making porridge has always been a leisurely relaxing process so I can’t imagine a better way of rewarding myself.ReplyCancel

  • Lily16/08/2017 - 2:17 pm

    White lentils–brilliant. Even better the second day. The cardamom truly elevated it. I made a blackberry compote and tossed in fresh peach slices. Pretty awesome. My grains and lentils remained distinct and individual, though, so it didn’t take on the level of porridge-creaminess that your photos appear to show. Love all the protein and fiber. Thanks for a great, innovative recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Lily30/09/2017 - 2:49 pm

    I’ve eaten this almost daily since you posted this marvelous recipe. To think I used to eat just plain old oatmeal! Two things I must share from my experience with it now:

    First, soaking is a MUST. Trust me. The one time I didn’t soak I had to ostracize myself from polite company for two days.

    Second, I find that cooking it partially covered with a lid makes it a creamier porridge and less granular and stiff, if that makes sense.

    Love, love, LOVE it each morning after a big hike! Great stuff!ReplyCancel

  • Jill14/09/2018 - 8:22 pm

    This look great! I’m wondering of you, or one of your readers, ever made this in the Instant Pot? I know it would work, just not sure how to adjust the liquid. Running 5 days a week is amazing! I just started a boot-camp class this week. I’m so sore, but loving it. Thank you!ReplyCancel

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