It is an ancient mother food traditionally associated with Scotland, horses and thrifty winter breakfasts but porridge has made a big comeback in recent years and is a super way to start your day.
Sales are soaring, our supermarkets aisles are dedicating more space to different brands and blends and grabbing a porridge on-the-go is becoming an increasingly popular option.
And it’s not just their tummy-warming, penny-saving properties that have made humble oats such a star at the breakfast table.
They are high in fibre, which does wonders for digestion, proven to reduce cholesterol and are one of the best balanced grains in terms of nutrition, striking an equilibrium of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
But the porridge that most people eat these days, made using ‘quick’ flaked oats, was originally reserved for cattle and horses.
Oatmeal is in fact the original porridge. It is the oat groat, cut in varying sizes, best made with just water and a sprinkling of sea salt.
Both oatmeal and flaked oats are enjoying a popularity surge as more and more people are moving back to traditional methods and ditching the microwave for the old fashioned pan, stove and wooden spoon method.
Do not be fooled into thinking that beginning your day with a bowl of oats means an extra early start. By soaking your oatmeal the night before you reduce the cooking time by half and it goes from pot to bowl within three minutes.
And quick oats live up to their name and are cooked in just five minutes.
And the possibility for toppings is endless – oats are the perfect vehicle for both sweet and savoury accompaniments.
Online spoke to Nick Barnard, oat connoisseur and cofounder of Rude Health, a London-based natural food company, about the benefits of porridge.
He said: “It’s sustaining and provides slow release energy which reduces the urge to snack and keeps your sugar levels steady.
“Making porridge is a life balancer. You’ll appreciate making something so conveniently but also making it for yourself. It causes you to slow down a bit.”
Nick shared his expertise and gave us his tips for the perfect porridge.
“Give yourself more time in the morning by soaking oatmeal the night before – it gives off a lovely, welcoming creamy aroma in the kitchen in the morning.
“Use a really fine, good quality sea salt. Rock salt is too grainy so use a finer flake sea salt that dissolves quickly.
“Be careful to add salt and water gradually as you go and keep tasting it.”
Follow Nick’s guide for the perfect oatmeal or enjoy an extra special start to the day with one of these warming porridge recipes:
Team GB Porridge Recipe
Dish type: Breakfast
Nick Barnard of Rude Health created this recipe for the World Porridge Championships 2012. Celebrating the best of British produce, he said: “These are champion ingredients celebrated in a very simple bowl of food.”
2 portions of Scottish oatmeal
Generous pinch of Welsh sea salt
Good quality grated Cheddar cheese
2 rashers of English smoked and unsmoked bacon
Irish apple syrup to drizzle
1. Grate the cheddar
2. Chop the streaky bacon into small pieces
3. Make your oatmeal
4. Fry the bacon until crisp
5. Serve the porridge and onto the bowl, pour apple syrup, scatter the bacon and top with grated cheddar
6. Serve the cream in a little bowl on the side for an extra rich combination
Heart Warming Honey and Banana Porridge
Dish type: Breakfast
100g of Morning Glory Porridge by Rude Health
500ml milk or water
2 teaspoons of honey
1. Make the porridge by combining the oats and water (or milk if you prefer it creamier) into a pan.
2. Bring to the boil slowly and simmer gently for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Whilst the porridge is simmering slice the bananas.
4. Divide the porridge into two bowls, drizzle a teaspoon of honey over each and add a layer of sliced bananas.