Make your bowl better in seconds with these smart ideas. Goldilocks would be proud
A bowl of warm porridge really is ‘just right’ on a crisp morning. Aficionados might say it’s worthy of selection any day, and many health experts would agree. There’s something about porridge that eases you gently into the real world, but more than that, this humble breakfast has great nutritional credentials.
Oats are porridge’s hero ingredient and to thank for perhaps its most interesting healthy attributes. In a study by Harvard University, higher consumption of wholegrains, such as oats, was associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Specifically, the authors estimated that for every 28g serving of wholegrains eaten, the risk was 5 per cent and 9 per cent lower, respectively.
Other studies have found that adding oats to the diets of people with high blood pressure slightly reduced it, and that a type of fibre found in oats, called beta-glucan, lowered cholesterol. Oats also contain vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, magnesium, and iron. That’s a good basis on which to build your day!
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If you’re a porridge lover, you might already have your ingredients and method down to a tee. Keeping your porridge-making simple is a tried-and-tested recipe for a no-fuss start to the day. However, with the time and inclination, why not try some of these ways to mix up your flavours and add extra, nutritious foods into your day, right from the off?
Quick tip: Avocado even tastes great in porridge! Try topping your bowl with a few slices.
1. Play the grain game
While purists might want to stick firmly to porridge oats, there’s still lots of choice. Rolled oats are popular for hob-cooking, but don’t discount oatmeal which makes for a satisfyingly textured bowlful. Other grains, including quinoa and buckwheat, lend themselves well to porridge, too. If opting for buckwheat, you can use wholegrain or flakes.
2. Mix up your ‘milks’
Milk is a good source of protein and calcium. Because whole milk is high in fat, older children and adults are recommended to opt for one per cent or skimmed varieties. Dairy alternatives such as soya, nut, oat, rice and hemp ‘milks’ taste great in porridge, too. If you cook with water, you can stir a spoonful of yoghurt through at the end, if you like.
3. Remember spice is nice
When you think of topping your porridge, your mind probably doesn’t naturally turn to your spice drawer, but it provides all sorts of possibilities for flavouring your bowl without sugar. Warming cinnamon is a tasty choice and vanilla is delicious for a decadent porridge.
4. Go nuts and sprinkle
You can add texture to a lovely smooth porridge with nuts and seeds. If you’d find whole or halved nuts a bit too chunky, blitzing them to smaller pieces in a blender is quick and easy, and you can create your own ‘mix’ in the process. Almonds and hazelnuts are high in vitamin E, which is important for healthy skin and eyes and a strong immune system. Meanwhile, Brazil nuts are high in selenium, which also supports a healthy immune system. Like walnuts, some seeds are high in omega-3, including flaxseed. Or, if you prefer to keep things running smoothly with your porridge recipe, simply stir through some nut butter.
Like to sweeten your porridge? Try some stewed apple or fresh blackberries (it looks great when you swirl these purple gems through at the end of cooking) or a little manuka honey. Over to you to build your bowl!