Quinoa Champorado

When people make jokes about the evils of chocolate, I get all startled and rush to its defense like someone just kicked a puppy. Like when people typecast pit bull dogs as vicious but they are actually very sweet dogs who tend to have bad owners -- so too is chocolate full of inherent goodness, but it's all about how you use it and not abuse it.

So, as you probably have heard by now, the cocoa bean has all kinds of good antioxidants and cardiovascular health-boosting compounds; it's just that unfortunately in most cases, the cacao solids are bitter, so it's often heavily cloaked with cocoa butter, white sugar and dairy, which eaten in quantity *will* cause weight gain and probably discount the nutritional value of the original bean. But if you just left out the added fat and white sugar... and mixed it with more wholesome ingredients that carry the chocolate flavor well... then you get what I call cheat's chocolate. Dark chocolate lovers especially, like me, rejoice -- there's 100% guilt-free cocoa indulgence, so guilt free you can enjoy it for breakfast.

I can't take credit for pushing chocolate for breakfast. Despite how novel it may still sound, it's actually been in practice through Western history; after all, the cocoa bean was originally a sacred medicinal elixir in the ancient Mayan culture. The Spanish conquerors then adjusted it to their taste adding milk and sugar, took it back to Europe and distributed it across their colonies, one of them being the Philippines, which brings me to champorado -- a triumphant classic Filipino breakfast that could also be called chocolate rice pudding. Not quite like Chinese congee, since the rice grains remain separate and intact rather than mushy. The cocoa powder blends right into the creamy rice liquid but often it's got added milk and white sugar.

My version uses quinoa instead of white rice as it's a seed, rather than a refined grain, so it's lighter and packs more protein; conveniently it's also faster to cook. And the rich chocolatey "milk"? Here's the secret: one ripe banana, creamy dairy-free almond milk with a heaped Tablespoonful of cocoa powder and a tiny spoon of raw honey. That's it! Oh, wait, then there's the handful of spinach leaves added in for a vitamin boost. You'd hardly be able to tell it didn't have dairy and white sugar; and you wouldn't miss those two, either.

If you make it the night before and keep it in the fridge, you'll get a thick, pudding-like texture the next day as the quinoa's starches will have gelled with the chocolate "milk". I like to eat this cold but of course, it can be warmed up in the microwave or stovetop for a comforting winter morning breakfast or even dessert.

If you don't try this recipe... you probably also wouldn't try this chocolate beetroot cake recipe either. And that's kind of fine with me because #moreforme

Quinoa Chocolate Champorado

  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 1 ½ Tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 12 baby spinach leaves
  • ½ tsp raw honey (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  1. Put the quinoa and water in a small saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil. When it’s boiling, lower heat to the lowest flame and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until the water has almost completely evaporated, like steaming rice; be careful that the bottom doesn’t burn. Turn off the heat and keep the cover on.
  2. While you wait for the quinoa to cool off, put the almond milk and banana in a blender and blend until combined. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
  3. Combine all of the quinoa with all of the chocolate “milk” and stir until fully combined and all the quinoa is distributed evenly in the milk mixture without clumping.
  4. Enjoy it with toasted nuts and fresh fruit, like pistachios and raspberries.