My dad loves porridge. Every morning of every.single.day he gets up, measures out his oats and starts his day the same way: porridge. I dubiously watched from the sidelines with my muesli and yoghurt for a long time before getting on board the warm breakfast train, but once I did, I've never looked back. I have, however, revised my porridge and its come a long way from a quarter of a cup of oats, half a cup of water and sliced banana on top (or a generous dessert spoon of raw sugar in dad's case).
Today, my go-to porridge recipe is still super simple but it has gone next level. I cook the banana with the oats to make the whole thing creamier and when I'm done, you can't even really see the humble oats at the base of the bowl for all the other toppings that have been added.
An absolute powerhouse of nutrients, the following are a few highlights of oats:
Oats are a wonderful source of low-GI carbohydrates which will keep you full and your blood sugar levels steady until snack-o-clock;
The dietary fibre within oats is high in beta-glucan, which may help to reduce cholesterol via enhanced removal from the body (mainly in individuals with high cholesterol levels).
To further support energy levels and blood sugar stability, oats are rich in magnesium and B vitamins.
Perhaps my favourite thing about oats, however, is how they tie into herbal medicine. Oats, or Avena sativa, are traditionally used in Western herbal medicine to assist in restoring and nourishing the nervous system. Nervine herbs, such as Avena sativa, can assist with reducing stress, improving mood and strengthening the nervous system on the whole. Sitting down to a bowl of warm, nourishing porridge is literally using food as medicine - what a perfect way to kick off the day.
My porridge recipe combines oats with quinoa to increase the amount of protein, which helps to keep me full a little bit longer.
Recipe (to make enough for two)
A heaped 1/4 cup of rolled oats
1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups water
1 banana, sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nut butter
2 tbsp chia seeds
Place the oats, quinoa, water and banana into a saucepan on medium heat.
Once the porridge begins to boil, add the cinnamon and reduce the heat. Simmer the porridge for about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa grains start to show their little tails.
Once the quinoa is cooked, stir in the nut butter and chia seeds. Divide into two bowls and top as you see fit - some of my suggestions are listed below but always tend to include a good quality (i.e. no added sugar, organic) full-fat, natural yoghurt.
Apple pie oats: add half an apple (chopped) and a tablespoon of sultanas at the same time as the banana.
Matcha latte oats: combine a teaspoon of matcha powder with 1-2 tablespoons of boiling water, stir well and add to the porridge at the end with the nut butter and chia seeds.
Carrot cake oats: add 1 grated carrot at the same time as the banana, as well as 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, in addition to the cinnamon.
Chocolate oats: add 1 tablespoon cacao powder at the same time as the cinnamon.
don't like quinoa? don't worry! You can either substitute the quinoa for another grain (buckwheat is a great one) or just make the whole lot with oats!
Suggested toppings (per person):
1 tbps each of almonds, crumbled walnuts, sunflower seeds;
Blueberries, strawberries and 1 tbsp cacoa nibs;
Stewed apples, more cinnamon, 1 tbsp pepita seeds.