As autumn becomes well-established, the air temperature drops and we start to look towards foods to nurture us on a different level, porridge becomes a natural choice. For breakfast, or at any other time of day when you fancy something warming and grounding yet soup or other choices just aren’t hitting the spot, the humble oat steps up to deliver. This Bitesize piece gives you a quick rundown of why oats are a good choice of grain, and offers up a simple starter recipe to help you make the perfect porridge at anytime of day.
Oats: better than your average grain
Compared to may other grains, oats are a good source of protein and fat. They provide a nice blend of rapidly digested and slowly digested starch for a mix of energy release, and resistant starch that cannot be digested by us but can be used by our gut microbiota (the helpful guys in our gut). Resistant starch acts like fibre, further enhancing oats potential as a great source of both insoluble (lignin, cellulose, and hemicellulose) and soluble (beta-glucans) fibre. If you’d like to read more about oats’ nutritional profile, you can find a lovely, geeky, review paper here.
This powerhouse of the grain world has been touted as offering many health benefits, from the regulation of blood sugar levels, and prevention and management of excess weight to the lowering of LDL cholesterol. Packed full of vitamins and minerals and fibre, it’s the phytonutrients that makes oats an overlooked ‘superfood’. The main phytonutrients of interest are the group of phenolic acids called avenanthramides, as these are behind oats’ ability to regulate blood pressure and reduce arterial inflammation: in short, oats are really good for cardiovascular health.
Obviously, there’s a potential downside here too: Life is all about balance after all. For some people, oats are not a good addition to the diet. Most oats are processed in factories which also handle wheat grains, leading to cross-contamination; this could present a problem for anyone with wheat allergy, gluten-sensitivity, or coeliac disorder. Whilst there’s long been debate about the merit of including oats in the eating programme for coeliacs, in their 2015 paper Comino et al. determined that individual immune reaction to oats may come down to the type of oat (“the cultivar”) used. As it’s impossible to identify the cultivar used in food products or packages of oats, in this situation it’s advisable to look for certified gluten- and wheat- free oats deemed safe for coeliacs and discuss their inclusion with your medical care team.
So, if you’re ready to introduce porridge into your Way of Eating, here’s my recipe for simple porridge.
For this recipe, for two servings, you need the following:
- 60g rolled oats (you can use oat groats, steel-cut, or quick oats but you’ll need to adjust your cooking time)
- 225ml liquid (milk, mylk, water or a mix of your preferred ones)
- A pinch of sea salt
And you do this:
- Put the oats and the liquid in the saucepan.
- Put onto the heat and stir the contents around to mix them together.
- Bring up to a steady simmer, and allow to cook for around 6 minutes or so.
- Sprinkle in the sea salt and stir to mix. Allow to cook through for another 1-2 minutes adding a little more liquid if necessary. If it’s too runny for your liking, turn the heat up a little (stir constantly to stop the contents catching on the bottom of the pan), or allow to simmer for a little longer until the desired consistency is reached.
- Remove from heat (turn off the heat!) and serve. This recipe makes two portions (or one huge portion if you’re particularly feeling the need).
- Drizzle with your preferred sweetening agent, if desired, or maybe channel your Inner Scot and serve it unsweetened with a little bowl of cream.
- Take bowl and spoon to the table, focus on the porridge, then eat and enjoy a few moments of Pure Nurturing for your body, mind and spirit.
This recipe makes enough for two servings; if there’s only you, portion up the leftover into a bowl, cover it and pop it into the fridge for re-heating later (this also increases the resistant starch making your gut guys super-happy!)
Once you’ve cracked this recipe, you might like to take a peek at the companion Bitesize piece, Ten Ways to Pimp Your Porridge, when the basic porridge gets a tweak, and a variety of delicious accessories to dress it up.
Pimping porridge is a great strategy if, like me, you find that porridge doesn’t quite leave you feeling fuller for longer. I burn the glucose from porridge really quickly and experience a blood sugar crash really quickly. It’s how I’m built. For me, pimping my porridge increases the protein and (good) fat content, stabilising the rate at which my body uses the fuel and reducing my snack attacks later.
If you would like to know more about how to include oats in your Way of Eating, get in touch.