As the mornings get darker it’s high time I dedicated an entire post to one of my favourite foods, the humble bowl of porridge.
This has long been a staple on my breakfast menu because it’s hearty, healthy and easy but in the last couple of years I’ve experimented with it more and more. I remember some dark WeightWatchers days when I used to force it down with just water and sweetener (ugh) – fortunately since then I’ve become more generous with my accompaniments, but it could’ve been worse – Chaz used to teach all morning on a 55 calorie WW yogurt.
It’s versatile for me because it’s quick, cheap and healthy to make during the week with a few things thrown in and it’s long been my running and race day breakfast of choice for its nutritional values.
I try to add extra protein to my standard combos as a veggie, so to most of these recipes I would add hemp and/or chia seeds as well as hefty dollops of nut butters but they’re not essential if you get plenty of protein elsewhere.
I honestly love porridge so much I even have it most of the summer. I’m insane.
The health benefits of oats are well documented, but I’ll summarise the top 10 below in case you’re in any doubt:
- Obesity fighting – kids who eat oats regularly are 50% less likely to be overweight according to Harvard (who I trust)
- Tummy filling – whole grains like oats are high in soluble fibre to fight cholesterol and stop you wandering to the vending machine circa 10am
- Energy boosting – thanks to those slow release carbs you’ll be zipping around all morning
- Iron-rich – to avoid anaemia and produce crucial red blood cells
- Disease battling – loads of immune-boosting Vitamin A in your morning oats aids vision, cell and tissue growth and reproduction and acts as an antioxidant to reduce the risk of disease
- Hangover curing – oats neutralise acidity levels and help to soak up all those toxins
- Smile! Porridge is high in Vitamin B6, promoting serotonin levels so you feel great, relax and sleep well
- Beat the bloat – all that fibre encourages the movement of food through the digestive tract to avoid constipation and keep things regular
- Bye bye heart disease – oats help prevent this most dreaded of diseases, which is always good
- Protein packed – 10g of protein for each 100g serving.
Before I share with you a few of my favourite ways to jazz up your standard morning bowl, I’ll share my basic recipe which never fails to get the right consistency (apologies if this seems obvious but Chaz* once got it so wrong she tried sieving it, so if anyone out there is as much of a moron as her it may come in handy).
My basic porridge recipe:
- 1/2 cup of oats
- 1/2 cup of almond milk (or whatever milk you prefer)
- 1/2 cup of water
Heat in a pan and stir for a few minutes on a medium heat.
I use this base for all sorts of combos – after years of microwave explosions and miscalculated ratios this is a quick and foolproof way to get it right.
If you’re going with the basic recipe here are a few tasty combinations that really jazz things up:
1. Nordic spiced porridge
Alex from 26 Grains made this as a guest recipe for Deliciously Ella last November and I exaggerate not, I made it every day for about a fortnight afterwards and it’s been on regular rotation since. Internal heating for cold mornings. I rarely have all the ingredients but it works great if you have most.
- 1/2 a cup rolled oats
- 1/2 a cup of nut milk
- 1/2 a cup of water
- 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground cardamon
- 1/8 teaspoon of ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of flaxseeds
- 1 teaspoon of raisins
- 1 teaspoon of maca
- 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
- 1 shaved apple
- coconut yoghurt
- a pinch of salt
- Mix oats, milk, water and a pinch of salt in a pan and warm it over a medium heat
- Add in all the spices.
- Keep stirring for five to ten minutes.
- Take off the heat and pour into a bowl, drizzle with maple syrup/honey and then add the shaved apple, raisins and coconut yoghurt on top (I use Coyo).
2. Toasty almond oats
Heat a small frying pan at the same time as you get your oats going and dry fry a handful (each) of coconut chips and flaked almonds. Use them to top your porridge with a tablespoon of almond butter, a squeeze of agave/honey/maple syrup and a sprinkle of sea salt.
3. Carrot cake porridge
Discovering this was another Nordic spiced moment which saw me using up those giant bags of carrots at a rate of knots. If I ever ventured out at night I’m sure my vision would have been off the scale. Now it’s getting properly autumnal I’m adding carrots to my Ocado order as we speak to make this for breakfast next week.
To the basic base stir in:
- 1 medium grated carrot (per person)
- A handful of raisins
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Cook for slightly longer than usual to let the carrot soften and the raisins expand – about five minutes should do it. Drizzle with your preferred sweetener and a few chopped walnuts or pecans.
4. Cacao coconut oats
If you’ve invested in a bag of raw cacao you’ll probably be realising it can be added to almost anything. Stir 1 tbsp into your oats with 1 tsp cinnamon, 1tsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp desiccated coconut and half a chopped banana. Top with your preferred sweetener and 1 tbsp of cacao nibs if you have these too.
The fun doesn’t stop there. I’ve had a few goes at quinoa and buckwheat porridge and I’m also planning to try barley, millet and amaranth so stay tuned for a guide to alternatives to oats.
Have you got any weird and wonderful porridge combos we should try?
*Sorry for all the bullying Chaz.