Below we will show you how to make a healthier and vegan variation to the staple Jamaican cornmeal porridge breakfast. You'll love this recipe if you like the classic recipe, but are looking for a vegan alternative, or simply if you love porridge and want to experiment with something new.
This tropical breakfast meal is usually prepared with condensed milk and sugar and served with bread, crackers, and butter. We have made some changes to this, to make the porridge suitable for vegans and people with dairy allergies, and to reduce the amount of bad unsaturated fats and sugars.
First, we replaced condensed milk and butter with coconut milk. Coconut milk is a common alternative to cow milk in vegan recipes. The advantages of this plant-based drink lie in the high amount of healthy fats - known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), and its fibres. Moreover, coconut milk is rich in minerals that support a healthy metabolism.
Then, we replaced refined white sugars with yummy tropical fruits, like passion fruit and mango which have naturally occurring sugars. But if you like your porridge a bit sweeter, then drizzle it with a little maple syrup. We often use maple syrup in our vegan recipes whenever we want flavour and yet a better nutritional profile.
If you want to make this Jamaican cornmeal porridge 100% sugar-free, you could use a zero-carb sweetener like erythritol. We tell you how to do that in the tips at the bottom of the page. And finally, we topped the porridge crunchy cashew nuts for a boost of proteins.
So there you have it: a wholesome tropical meal that will put a big smile on your face and keep you satiated throughout the morning. It's super easy to make, taking only 25 minutes, so it's the ideal breakfast for a busy day.
Can I make this porridge without milk?
Yes, you can. You can either use a vegan milk replacement, as we did, or use water. If you opt for the latter, the porridge will be less creamy and flavourful so add more spices and toppings. Alternatively, you can add a splash of yogurt (soy or plain).
Which spices can I add to this cornmeal breakfast?
We used the traditional spice for Jamaican cornmeal porridge, which is cinnamon. We then added some cardamom for a twist on the original recipe.
Other spices and herbs you can use are:
What can I use instead of maple?
There are a few ingredients you can use to replace refined sugars in healthy recipes. For our Jamaican cornmeal porridge we chose maple syrup. Other options include honey, coconut sugar, erythritol, stevia.
Our favourite sugar replacements are maple, honey, and erythritol. The latter is the best option for a zero-sugars recipe.
Which type of cornmeal should I use?
The traditional Caribbean porridge uses fine-cut cornmeal. Using fine cornmeal is recommended to get a smooth texture with ease.
Don't worry if you only have coarse/thick-cut cornmeal, though. The porridge will taste the same but have a slightly rougher texture.
What to eat with cornmeal porridge?
You can have pretty much anything you would have for breakfast. If you want to stick with the classic Jamaican porridge meal, then crackers or bread are the way to go.
But as corn is already high in carbs, we opted for a more balanced meal by topping the porridge with fruit and nuts.
The combination of fruit and our vegan cornmeal porridge gives you lots of fibres, vitamins, and healthy fats. Add in some proteins, and you'll have a complete meal that will keep you full till lunch, and possibly beyond.
Here are some excellent vegan sources of proteins that would go well with this tropical porridge:
- Passion Fruit
- Cashew Nuts
- Desiccated Coconut
- Fine Cornmeal
- Coconut Milk
- Cardamom Pods
- Maple Syrup (optional)
For this porridge, we recommend you use fine or "thin cut" cornmeal to get a smooth finish. However, you can also use the coarse one, the porridge will just be slightly thicker and grainer, but still delicious.
In a bowl, combine the cornmeal with half of the water. Stir well, and leave the mixture to soak for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, add coconut milk to a saucepan along with the remaining half of water, ground cinnamon, and cardamom.
You can also add a cinnamon stick to the milk for extra flavour or to replace the powder. Also, make sure you remove the cardamom seeds for their pods, then lightly crush them under a knife or with a spice grinder.
Then, turn the hob to medium heat and bring the coconut milk to a boil.
When the milk starts to bubble, pour in the soaked cornmeal, and stir well with a whisker to break down any lumps.
Simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes while stirring to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom and burn.
The porridge will get denser and denser as time goes by so we don't recommend you cook it past the 20 minutes.
If you feel the mixture is too dry, then add a splash of warm milk.
Divide the cooked cornmeal among breakfast bowls and top with passion fruit, sliced mango, and cashew nuts.
To finish, sprinkle it with dried coconut flakes to taste and enjoy it warm.
You can optionally drizzle the porridge with maple syrup if you like it sweeter.
You can swap maple syrup with raw honey - if not vegan, or with sweeteners like stevia or erythritol, for a zero-calorie option. When substituting with erythritol, use 1 and 1/3 tablespoon of this sweetener for every tablespoon of maple.