My favorite way to make porridge is to put the oats into a small milk saucepan first thing, cover with boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon once or twice and then leave it until it is time for breakfast.
Then you can turn on the gas or electricity and cook it through with some added milk and a shake of natural salt. Serve with maple syrup
for some healthy sweetness. For additional richness, add some double cream!
A bowl of porridge at breakfast is a great way to start your day - whatever your age and, depending on what you add, it is simple to make sure you get lots of extra good nutrition too.
What is porridge?
Porridge is a dish made by boiling ground, crushed, or chopped starchy plants – typically grains – in water or milk. It can be cooked or served with flavorings such as sugar, honey and more to make a sweet dish or mixed with spices and vegetables to make a savory dish. It is usually served hot in a bowl.
More often than not, the term porridge is used specifically for oat porridge (known as oatmeal in the U.S. and parts of Canada), which is eaten at breakfast. Oat porridge can also be sold in ready-made or partly cooked form as an instant and convenient breakfast cereal.
Other grains used for porridge include semolina, rice, wheat, barley, corn and buckwheat. Many types of porridge have their own names, such as polenta, grits and kasha.
Porridge is a staple food in much of Africa and, in the past, was also in much of Northern Europe and Russia.
Being easy to digest, porridge is often served to those who are not feeling good as well as athletes as part of their training diet.
You can understand why it is considered to be a comfort food. And oats are beneficial to our health too...
Why oats are so beneficial
Studies have linked the beta-glucans found in oats to boosting the immune system which is just what you need during the winter. They also increase a hormone connected to appetite control which is good news for those watching their weight while your heart can benefit too as oats are renowned for helping reduce blood pressure.
In the past, oats were often used as a poultice on wounds while those who endure eczema
or dry skin can enjoy the moisturizing and healing qualities of an oatmeal bath. Fill an old stocking or muslin bag with oats before hanging below the running hot tap or faucet. The milky liquid released will benefit you or your child while soaking in a warm bath.
Oats have a high fiber content, helping to keep bowel movements regular, to avoid constipation and ultimately to prevent hemorrhoids
. Oats are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. The latter does not dissolve in water. It is spongy and absorbs many times its own weight of liquid. It makes stools heavier and speeds their passage through the gut, relieving constipation which is one of the main causes of anal fissures.
Porridge for young children
My daughter-in-law would place oats, mixed nuts, mixed seeds and some dried fruit in the blender to make her own smooth oatmeal mixture when her daughters were very young - for their breakfast porridge. And they loved it.
Oats and coconut oil
For this delicious version, you will need:
- 1/2 cup oats (gluten free readily available)
- 1/2 cup nut milk or organic dairy milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp extra-virgin coconut oil
- pinch of salt
Directions - Put the oats in a pan, add the milk and water together with a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes, stirring regularly to avoid any sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir through the coconut oil so that it melts into the porridge to give it a smooth texture.
Leave to stand for 2 minutes before serving and adding your choice of topping - for example, a selection of nuts or seeds and chopped fresh or dried fruit.
There are further benefits
Oats are a very good source of selenium, working with vitamin E in numerous and vital antioxidant systems throughout our bodies. Such powerful antioxidant actions ensure that the selenium can help reduce asthma symptoms and prevent heart disease. Selenium also helps in DNA repair while reducing the risk of colon and other cancers.
Alex Hely-Hutchinson suggests porridge dishes on Instagram @260 grains. She has her own Porridge Cafe in London.