Porridge: what’s not to love about this wonderfully easy, satisfying, dish? Well, and I hate to admit this, sometimes it can get a little…boring. Rather than being drawn to other, less health-supportive, options, maybe it’s time to zhuzh it up. Here’s a few ideas to try.
Keep the basics, add an accessory:
Porridge can be thought of as the food equivalent of the ‘little black dress’: simple, classic and, with some thought to accessories, capable of being dressed up to suit a variety of occasions. Here, the addition of a few delicious toppings can tempt the tastebuds and reignite our passion for porridge:
- Pear, walnut and ginger: chop some ripe pear, some walnut halves and a chunk of stem ginger (from a jar, keep the rest in the fridge for another day) then scatter over the top of the porridge.
- Peaches and raspberries: my clients are familiar with my fondness for frozen fruit (cheaper that fresh and available year-round). This pairing is great for summer, especially as part of an overnight oats combo, but transitions well into autumn when frozen ones (and frozen ones are usually cheaper than fresh). Defrost the fruit then spoon it over the porridge.
- Stewed plums: again, another fave of mine: stew the plums ahead of time (stone and quarter the raw plums then poach them gently in water and sugar, with a cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Allow to cool, remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod and discard, then keep the plums in the fridge until required.) Simply add the stewed plums to the porridge. Pour over a little bit of the reserved juice: heavenly.
- Blueberries, chopped walnuts, and sunflower seeds: here we see walnuts making another appearance, this time with (frozen and defrosted) blueberries and a generous sprinkling of sunflower seeds for extra crunch, protein and (good) fats.
- Greek yoghurt and (tinned in juice) apricots: add extra creaminess to your porridge with Greek yoghurt then top with some tinned apricots. Choose apricots tinned with juice, not syrup, to manage your intake of added (“free”) sugar.
- Stewed apple and cinnamon: another, stew-it-in-advance, fruit option, this time the beautiful apple. Stew it in advance with a little water, sugar and lemon juice (stops it going brown), then cool and keep refrigerated. Spoon it onto the porridge then sprinkle liberally with ground cinnamon for added depth of flavour.
- Apple and blackberry: no stewed apple? No problem. Simply grate an apple onto the porridge together with some mushed (technical term) up blackberries. Scatter a couple of whole blackberries over the top for extra gorgeousness.
- Banana and maple syrup: Understated in its simplicity, slice a ripe banana, pop it on top of the porridge then drizzle with maple syrup. Personally, I find the banana sweet enough on its own so I switch out the maple syrup for chopped nuts or a generous dollop of almond butter. See how easy pimping porridge is?
Tweak the basic recipe:
There, I said it: let’s play with perfection. Here’s another idea for the basic recipe mix:
- 200g rolled oats
- 100g oatmeal
- 100g oatbran
- 100g flaked quinoa (yes, flaked)
Find a clean, airtight storage pot (a Kilner-type preserving jar, or a Lock’n’Lock/Sistema/Tupperware-type pot, whatever you have to hand). Into a large bowl, mix together the four dry ingredients. Put the mixture into the storage jar and keep until it’s Porridge Time. Simply use this blend instead of all rolled oats. You might be amazed at the difference made simply by adding in the extra elements (for me, it makes porridge a slower burn, more satisfying, option)
Flaked quinoa is important here: unflaked quinoa has a coating on it, designed to keep birds away, which tastes bitter to us unless we rinse it several times before cooking. Flaked quinoa doesn’t need rinsing before cooking. Life made simple.
And finally, coming in at number 10 on the list is another tweak to the basic recipe: banana cacao porridge.
This tweak comes in at cooking rather than eating stage.
Decide which grain is going into your basic porridge (all rolled oats, or maybe the four grain combo above). Put the grain into the pan and add about three-quarters of a mushed banana and 1-2 tsp of cacao together with your milk/mylk of choice. Cook as usual. Serve topped with slices of the remaining banana and whatever sweetener you prefer.
And there we have it: ten ways to elevate porridge from “a bit boring” to “oh my, that’s delicious” loveliness. Which is your favourite? Let me know…