Swap Your Morning Oats for Pinole, an Aztec Corn and Chia Seed Porridge
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You know you’ve come far in life when you regularly write about oatmeal for work. Good morning! Happy to be here. And it was a good morning because I began my day with strong black coffee and a bowl of The Pinole Project’s peanut butter and cacao pinole chia oatmeal, which I zapped for two minutes and topped with toasted sliced almonds. Eaten across Latin America, pinole is finely ground cornmeal that’s usually mixed with spices and/or chia seeds to make a filling breakfast porridge. The Pinole Project’s recipe is corn + rolled oats + chia + cane sugar + salt + cinnamon with a trace of lime.
The Pinole Project Pinole Oatmeal
The corn here is heirloom white Olotillo corn from Oaxaca, which makes the porridge smell like a just-pressed corn tortilla—deep and corny, made even more fragrant by that pinch of cinnamon. (Olotillo is a type of white corn that’s thousands of years old, which, for corn, is young.) You can microwave your pinole oatmeal, heat it on the stovetop, or make it as overnight oats, letting the chia seeds expand a bit. It’s barely, barely sweet and I was so relieved it contained sugar and not my nemesis, sweeter-than-thou Stevia. The PB & Cacao flavor has cocoa powder and peanut flour, and it’s just as subtle.
Maya Jacquez, who founded The Pinole Project in Woodbury, N.Y., alongside her family, says the company is an homage to her abuela, Adela Jacquez, and her pinole recipe. Pinole, as Adela reminded her grandchildren, was fuel for Aztec warriors and the Tarahumara, an indigenous people in Mexico known for being long-distance runners—which means it’ll help you power through your morning even if you won’t be running 50 miles.
The bag touts that the oatmeal is vegan and gluten-free and packed with Omega-3s, fiber, and protein, plus all kinds of other nutritional bonanzas. But the flavor of the nutty, savory corn is the selling point for me. It reminds me that some of the most delicious ingredients are the ones that have been here the longest. It’s just the packaging that’s changed.