Goldilocks and her three hirsute friends were onto a good thing with porridge — it’s nutritious and delicious.
Oats are rich in complex carbohydrates, which means they provide a slow sustained release of energy to keep you going all morning.
They are low GI so they can help regulate food cravings, especially in colder months, and they are said to control cholesterol.
Oats are high in vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) and B9 (folate); calcium, and minerals (including iron, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc). All those vitamins and minerals are essential for optimal performance of our bodies and brains on a daily basis.
They are high in fibre to help keep you regular and contain negligible amounts of fat.
Not bad for a food that the Greeks and Romans dubbed ‘barbarian’s food’ and fed to their animals!
In more good news, oats are calorie moderate – with only just over 100 calories per 30g. (The average recommended serving size). Of course this will change when you start adding nuts and fruit, protein powder, milk and honey.
But the best news is that porridge is so easy to make … and whilst I can’t recommend this for health and safety reasons, you can almost do it in your sleep.
Ways to cook porridge
As Goldilocks will attest, everyone likes their porridge a bit different. Some like it so thick a spoon can stand up in the middle, others prefer a smoother start to the day, so here are a couple of ways to get the texture you are after.
Per person, soak one third of a cup of oats in two thirds of a cup of cold water or milk overnight.
Next day, add another one third of a cup of cold water or milk for a creamier taste.
Over a low heat, cook for five minutes or until you reach the desired consistency.
Add half a cup of porridge blend, half a cup of water and half a cup of full-cream milk to a large microwave-safe container.
Cover container loosely with cling film or lid, to let steam escape.
Microwave on 50 per cent power for three minutes.
Let stand for two-three minutes to absorb all liquid.
When it’s thick, stir and transfer to a warmed bowl.
I don’t actually cook porridge. These days, oats are steamed and flaked to a thickness that is soft enough to simply soak equal part oats and boiling water for 10 minutes before eating. In those ten minutes you can make a bed or two, or take a shower. Then your oats will be ready to add your favourite toppings and to eat.
A moat of cold or warm milk (dairy, soy, rice, coconut, almond or oat) gives wonderful ‘light and shade’.
A few sultanas, a sprinkle of nutmeg and you’re done!
For those in a rush (or who want one!) pour an espresso or half a cappuccino over the porridge.
Sliced banana, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a teaspoon of brown sugar bring old-fashioned comfort.
Add slivered almonds, a freshly grated Granny Smith apple and a few currants for sweetness.
A wedge of honeycomb stuck in the middle can ‘bee’ a cute way to serve porridge to overnight guests.
Some pistachios go well with a sprinkle of cardamom and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
A few pecans and some chopped dates evoke the exotic.
Freshly grated ginger, shredded coconut, macadamias and honey make you feel you’re in paradise.
A beaten egg (stirred through one minute before the end of stovetop cooking) is especially good after a workout.
Any warm stewed fruit – especially rhubarb, plums or apple – is delicious dolloped on top.
For something naughty, grate chocolate on top and watch it melt into the porridge
For something naughtier, stir through some chocolate buds or sweetened cacao nibs.