Heart Health – Chocolate Chia Oatmeal

Welcome back to PorrazzaNutrition! February is American Heart Month! Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and it is largely preventable? According to the American Heart Association, “About 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases may be preventable with education and action.” This means that changes to your diet and lifestyle (decreasing stress, exercise, etc) can boost your heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 80%!

One way to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease is by consuming more fiber. This means incorporating more whole fruits and veggies, legumes, and whole grains (like quinoa)! One way to boost your fiber intake is by power-packing your morning oatmeal. Instead of serving it up plain, add in things like fresh fruit and unsalted nuts. With my crazy schedule these days, making a big batch of this chia oatmeal has really been a lifesaver for me. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Chocolate Chia Oatmeal (Vegan & Gluten-free)PB Oats
2 cups plant-based milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup gluten-free quick-cook oats
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 large banana, mashed
Toppings: walnuts, unsweetened dried fruit, seeds, fresh banana etc

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat milk, vanilla, maple syrup, and peanut butter over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and add in oats, cooking for 5 minutes while stirring.
2. Add in cocoa, chia seeds and mashed banana. Whisk or stir until well incorporated. Remove from heat and let stand (chia seeds will gel up).
3. Divide oatmeal among 3-4 mason jars (or bowls) and top with additional ingredients (nuts, fruit, etc)

Recipe Notes
-I used flaxseed milk for more protein and fiber; however, you can use unsweetened almond, soy, or cashew milk too
-If you don’t have Celiac disease or a gluten-intolerance, you can use regular rolled or steel-cut oats. If using steel-cut oats, cooking time may need to be adjusted.
-Ground flaxseeds or hemp seeds can be used in place of the chia seeds.
-The maple syrup can be eliminated or you can substitute a plant-based sweetener. You will need to adjust the amount.
-Sunflower seed butter or almond butter can be used in place of the peanut butter. You can also make without any nut/seed butter and the recipe will still turn out great!
-Recipe can be made as overnight oats without cooking first.
-For a banana-berry option, eliminate the cocoa and peanut butter and add in 1/4 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries. If using frozen, add in with the milk to soften them up!

This batch is made without peanut butter and is topped with unsweetened dried blueberries and walnuts!

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