Passover Prep: Spiced Coconut-Almond Porridge with Chia, Hemp and Flax Seeds

passover oatmeal, passover hot cereal, grain-free hot cereal, grain-free porridge, freeze-dried bananas, gluten-free hot cereal

Remember what your mama told you when you were little? Mine said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We’re going to apply that lesson here today, and in fact, over the next two weeks.

Just because I mentioned Passover in the blog post title doesn’t mean you should leave if you don’t celebrate. The recipes I will sharing this week are ones I’m highlighting for Passover, but honestly, there’s no reason not to eat them any time of year.

But first I’m going to back up. Let’s chat about what can and can’t be eaten during this 8-day holiday, which commemorates the Jewish people’s exodus from slavery in Egypt. You might have heard that Jewish people do not eat leavened bread during Passover. This is true. That might lead you to wonder (as I have been asked many times), “But you can eat anything unleavened, right? So like, crackers, flat tortillas, and pasta?” The answer is no. The Torah forbids us from eating anything containing wheat, barley, oats, spelt, and rye (these forbidden grains are referred to as chametz). Except when they are used to make matzoh, an unleavened bread made in accordance with Jewish law.

As if that’s not confusing enough, the restrictions don’t end there. During the middle ages, rabbis in Ashkenazic (eastern European) Jewish communities developed an extensive list of additional foods to avoid, dubbed kitniyot. This includes things like legumes, rice, peas, corn, and even a variety of seeds like cumin, sesame, and poppy. The rabbis’ concern was that people might store these ingredients in the same sacks or containers as their chametz, and that due to crop rotation practices, kitniyot may be contaminated with chametz even upon harvesting. If Jews avoided kitniyot during Passover, it would ensure that they didn’t consume any traces of chametz by accident. That list continued to expand over the years as people would raise questions about new ingredients they were exposed to and whether they were permitted to eat them during Passover.

However… (of course, there’s a however)… Sephardic Jews, or those of Spanish, Mediterranean and North African descent, never adopted these rules. They are free to eat kitniyot during Passover.

So where does that leave me? Once again, it’s not clear-cut. I have both Ashkenazic and Sephardic heritage, but my family’s Jewish traditions lean more towards Ashkenazic culture. On Passover, though, we were not very strict about avoiding kitniyot. We did not make it a point to avoid everything containing corn products like starch or syrup, and I regularly ate peanut butter (legumes) on a piece of matzoh. This was more out of leniency and not because we understood these practices to be part of Sephardic culture. But, even as a child, I was always baffled by the aisle of Passover food in the grocery store. There were always hundreds of products boasting the label “kosher for Passover” that seemed, to me, like they didn’t need it. Jellies, chocolate chips, condiments, etc, – I knew these things do not contain chametz. But for people who carefully avoid kitniyot, these labels are necessary.

It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I made an effort to learn about the roots of the tradition to avoid kitniyot. And guess what? I decided that avoiding kitniyot is not for me. It’s not because I love peanut butter and garbanzo beans or that I can hardly make a recipe without grabbing for the jar of cumin, but rather because it has nothing to do with the Jews leaving Egypt nor MY ability to observe and enjoy the holiday.

Just for fun!

Which leads me to this recipe for grain-free hot cereal. I had seen similar recipes on Ricki’s, Kelly’s, and Lexie’s blogs and my first thought was, “what a perfect Passover substitute for my beloved oatmeal!” And my next thought? “I’m sure some of these ingredients are kitniyot and I better say so on my blog because not everyone will eat this during Passover.”

I did a quick search and learned that:

  • Chia seesd – not kitniyot
  • Flax seeds – maybe kitniyot – some Rabbis say yes, others no
  • Hemp seeds – kitniyot!

To which my husband replied, “Whaaat? I don’t think G-d would have smite Moses if he broke out his Vitamix in the desert and made a smoothie.”

And that pretty much sums up my feelings on kitniyot. The history of those foods has nothing to do with Passover, and I think that banning them just causes people to focus more on rules and less on the meaning of the holiday.

On that note, I’ve been enjoying this grain-free hot cereal for the past few days and I look forward to starting the day with a bowl of it during Passover as well. Loaded with cholesterol-fighting good fat and fiber, and a good amount of protein, its satisfying powers are unrivaled by any bowl of oatmeal. It is low in carbohydrates and won’t cause a spike in blood sugar. I’ve given instructions to make a big batch of it, allowing for a no-fuss breakfast any day of the week. This is a “just add water – and whatever toppings you like” kind of meal.

Speaking of toppings, fresh fruit is always a good idea, but I want to give a plug for freeze-dried fruit too. I’m not talking about chewy dried berries, or dehydrated fruit chips – both of those products often have sugars added to them. Freeze dried fruit – the bits you find in a box of cereal such as Special K with Strawberries  – contains only fruit. No added sweeteners or oils. It rehydrates in warm water and has a long shelf life, making it a perfect addition to hot cereals like this. You can buy freeze-fried strawberries, blueberries, and even mango, but I especially love freeze-dried bananas. Not only do they taste great with the spices I’ve used here, but I like being able to just grab a small handful of freeze-dried banana slices instead of peeling an entire banana to just use a small piece of it, and then trying to find a use for the rest of it.

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Spiced Coconut-Almond Porridge with Chia, Hemp and Flax Seeds

Yield: 12 servings

A grain-free breakfast cereal packed with a nutritional powerhouse of heart-healthy fats, fiber, and protein.

Looking to buy ingredients online? Check out Cara's Cravings Essentials Shop for good deals I've identified online.


1 1/2 cups (144gm) unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup (78gm) ground flax seed
3/4 cup (84gm) chia seeds
3/4 cup (108gm) shelled hemp seeds (also known as hemp hearts)
3/4 cup (84gm) raw almonds
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, OR a blend of spices such as:
3 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon gruond cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

For preparing and serving:
3/4 cup liquid (water, almond milk, coconut milk, or a blend) per serving
fresh or freeze-dried fruits
sweetener, such as stevia, coconut sugar, honey, or maple syrup, to taste


Measure out the coconut, flax, chia, hemp seeds, and almonds separately, and grind each into a fine powder using a powerful blender or coffee/spice grinder. (It is important to grind each ingredient separately, because the coconut, hemp and nuts will turn into "butters" if processed for too long.) Transfer each to a large bowl and the spices. Whisk well, and transfer to glass mason jar, or other tightly sealed container. Keep refrigerated.

When ready to eat:

Option 1 - Bring 3/4 cup liquid to a boil in a small saucepan. Quickly whisk in cereal and sweetener. If using freeze-dried fruit, add it now. Turn off heat, and allow to stand for 5 minutes, or until thickened.
Option 2 - Measure dry cereal into a serving bowl. Pour 3/4 cup very hot water over cereal, and mix well. Add sweeteners and freeze-dried fruit, if using. Let stand for a few minutes to thicken. If you would like the cereal to thicken further, microwave for 30-60 seconds.
Add additional toppings, if desired.

Nutrition Facts:

Serving Size: 1/3 cup, or 42gm dry cereal
Amount Per Serving (cereal only, does not include cooking liquid or optional add-ins):
Calories 235.0
Total Fat 18.7 g
Saturated Fat 5.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 5.6 mg
Potassium 152.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 10.2 g
Dietary Fiber 6.5 g
Sugars 0.7 g
Protein 8.9 g

Cara Lyons, Adapted from Andrea Nakayama and Andrea Livingston, via Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

This gluten-free and vegan cereal recipe is linked to the Allergy-Free Wednesday Blog Hop.

And one final note: it is complete coincidence that I based my recipe off one from Ricki Heller’s blog and then realized it was actually created by Andrea Nakayama. Ricki and Andrea are co-teachers of the Sweet Victory Sugar Detox program I plugged last week – and offered you a free spot in. This amazing opportunity is still going on, so please make sure to stop by and enter if it’s right for you!

Sweet Victory Giveaway: Win a Free Spot in Ricki and Andrea’s 2-week educational detox program, complete with meal plans and 24/7 online support.

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26 Responses to “Passover Prep: Spiced Coconut-Almond Porridge with Chia, Hemp and Flax Seeds”

  1. 1

    Branny — March 20, 2012 @ 6:07 am Reply

    Thanks for the lesson!

  2. Pingback: Spiced Coconut-Almond Porridge with Chia, Hemp and Flax Seeds | The Hemp Network News

  3. 2

    Ricki — March 20, 2012 @ 9:10 am Reply

    I love your version of this porridge! I haven’t had it in ages. . . thanks for the reminder that I need to make it again (this time, your version!). And great info re: Passover–thanks. 🙂

  4. 3

    Alta — March 20, 2012 @ 10:14 am Reply

    Thanks for the info regarding Passover. I am not Jewish, nor did I grow up knowing many Jewish families, so I am honestly not all that familiar with certain holidays or religious observances. I always enjoy learning though! And this porridge looks good no matter what! I can’t eat oatmeal, so this would be a lovely substitute.

  5. 4

    Kate — March 20, 2012 @ 10:44 am Reply

    You’re so on the ball. I’m trying to put off the unavoidable and completely ignoring the fact that Passover is quickly approaching.

  6. 5

    lauren @ wholewheatorbust — March 20, 2012 @ 11:40 am Reply

    I learned a lot about PAssover traditions thanks to this post! Im not Jewish but Ive always been a bit curious about the Passover food I see!
    Andd the recipe looks amazing – and paleo… I believe!

    • 5.1

      Cara — March 20, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

      I was wondering whether it was paleo! I didn’t want to put that label on it without being sure. Besides, it seems that even within the paleo world, some people accept ingredients that others do not. Clearly something I need to learn more about!

  7. 6

    Maggie — March 20, 2012 @ 6:42 pm Reply

    Soooo interesting Cara. Is it because the Jewish people didn’t bring wheat with them during the exodus? And, I need to try this kind of cereal. I’m hesitant but I think it’s inevitable!

    • 6.1

      Cara — March 20, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

      Oops, I can’t believe I left out that important piece! When the Pharaoh finally agreed to let the Jews leave, they knew they needed to get out very quickly. The story goes that the Pharaoh changed his mind the next day and sent his army after them. Maybe the Jews had a feeling that would happen so that is why the left immediately? Because of their quick departure, they didn’t have time to let their bread dough rise, so they simply took it with them and let it bake into flat crackers in the sun while they traveled. The Torah commands us to eat only unleavened bread (matzoh) during Passover to help us remember our departure from Egypt.

  8. 7

    Joanne — March 20, 2012 @ 8:42 pm Reply

    I feel SO much more knowledgeable about Jewish culture now! Which I love. This was a pretty awesome post, love! Thanks for sorting this all out for us shiksas 😛

  9. 8

    Pure2raw twins — March 20, 2012 @ 8:57 pm Reply

    sounds great! we have done many buckwheat based porridges with chia and hemp! need to try flax in it

  10. 9

    Dawn Hutchins — March 21, 2012 @ 1:34 pm Reply

    That is so interesting and this looks wonderful! I’ve been teetering back and forth between toast and cereal but I should add this into the mix!

  11. 10

    Carol Kicinski — March 21, 2012 @ 3:02 pm Reply

    I love this post – I am not jewish but am invited to Passover this year at a friend’s home and this will really help! Thank you.

  12. 11

    grace — March 22, 2012 @ 8:20 am Reply

    this was an informative post on many levels, cara! the bonus of it all is a marvelous and easy recipe!

  13. 12

    Kelsey — March 22, 2012 @ 8:53 pm Reply

    What an interesting post, Cara. I love hearing stories and traditions from other religions and cultures. The cereal looks great too. Thank you!

  14. Pingback: Oatmeal Toppings: Keeping You Informed Week-by-Week

  15. 13

    Linz @ Itz Linz — March 24, 2012 @ 7:45 pm Reply

    and i’ve just found a new blog to read consistently… 🙂

    • 13.1

      Cara — March 28, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

      aww, thanks Linz! Welcome 🙂

  16. 14

    Lauren A. @ Newest Obsession — March 26, 2012 @ 11:21 am Reply

    I prepped a big jar of this yesterday, and had some for breakfast this morning with frozen blueberries. I love the spice and texture! I added 3/4 c of boiling water and 1/2 c of frozen blueberries and let it sit for a few hours while went for a run and got ready for work. However, it was still a little runny for me, because I like my porridge thick. Next time I will reduce the water down to 1/2 c and add nut milk afterward letting it sit as desired. Thanks for sharing!

    • 14.1

      Cara — March 28, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

      Glad you liked it! You can also microwave it a little to help it thicken 🙂

  17. 15

    Laura @ Gluten Free Pantry — March 26, 2012 @ 11:52 am Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your great recipe on Allergy-Free Wednesdays! Be sure to check back next week for recipe highlights (including the top 3 reader choice submissions and hostess favorites).

    Be Well!

  18. Pingback: Passover Begins | Itz Linz

  19. Pingback: Grain-Free Spiced Porridge « Newest Obsession

  20. 16

    Melissa — March 21, 2013 @ 9:53 am Reply

    This looks good, I’ll have to try it! Just wanted to comment about all the rules of Passover. I totally agree that they take away from what Passover is all about. From my understanding, (I’m not Jewish but in the last 10-15 years my parents have taken an interest in getting back to the Hebrew roots and therefore have studied the holidays and God’s appointed times) the whole purpose for ridding your house of leaven and products containing it is to reflect on your life and realize how hard it is to be without sin. So many times we think we’ve cleaned out all of the leaven and then we find something hidden in the freezer after Passover is done. It’s a perfect example of our lives.. no matter how hard we try, we just can’t get rid of all the sin in our lives. Anyway… my point is it’s not about the rules but about the importance of what He did for us. It’s easy to get the focus of what’s truly important!

  21. 17

    Brenda — June 24, 2013 @ 8:19 pm Reply

    Cara, thanks for sharing this! We recently started eating a Paleo diet and this sounds wonderful. Is this recipe for just one serving? Or how much do you measure out for one bowl? I’m looking for something I can make a few days to a weeks worth to have on hand. Thanks!

    • 17.1

      Cara — June 25, 2013 @ 7:14 am

      Hello Brenda! The recipe is for 12 servings, 1 serving is 1/3 cup dry cereal (see nutritional information). Sorry for the confusion! Good luck with your diet!

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