I lived in the Dominican Republic for 18 months during my mid-20s. It was one of the best experiences of my life. In the last place I lived (I moved around a lot), I lived next to a flirty 30-something man named Miguel who loved to share food with me and my companion (I was a missionary). While I was unimpressed with his advances (and his chauvenistic marriage proposal just before I left), I was enamoured of the food he brought. Papaya was a particular favorite. He owned a farm and would sell fresh milk out of his house every morning. He always reserved a small pan of it for me and my companion. This milk tasted unlike any milk I was accustomed to and I didn't like it. But, not wanting to waste his generosity, we devised a way to make it more palatable -- oatmeal hot chocolate. Now I don't recommend this for everyday drinking since it does stick to the bones, but it was sure good. I have adapted the treat for a lighter version. I couldn't give you calorie values, but since I used fat-free milk and fat-free half and half, it can't be all bad, right?
Thick and Creamy Hot Chocolate
1 mug fat-free milk
1 mug fat-free half-and-half
2/3 cup rolled oats
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Dash of salt
1. Combine all ingredients in small saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk until cocoa is fully incorporated. Stir and continue to heat until bubbles form around edges, about five minutes.
2. Using a mesh colander, strain chocolate into mugs and discard oatmeal. Top with your favorite hot chocolate toppings.
Lessons learned: If you don't want to bother with the cocoa and sugar (and the cocoa takes some effort to incorporate), use a hot chocolate packet and omit the cocoa and sugar. You could probably omit the vanilla and salt, too, but I haven't tried it that way in more than 10 years, so you're on your own for that. If you feel that chucking the oatmeal is a waste, find a toddler and feed it to him or her. It was a hit with my 20-month-old daughter.
I didn't include a picture because one mug of hot chocolate looks just like the next mug of hot chocolate. It was, however, much thicker and creamier than the recipe I tried last weekend that called for cornstarch. I love the smoothness that the oatmeal gives to this recipe. And since it's a grain, it's healthy, right?!