5 ways to turn a plain bowl of porridge into a nutritional powerhouse. Plus my top three #oatbowl recipes!
Nothing quite starts the day like a lovely warming bowl of porridge, does it?
It’s so nostalgic for me as well - Ready Brek was an absolute staple growing up in the 80s.
Back then, all we used to top it with was sugar or syrup. Maybe some chocolate chips if we were being fancy!
Nothing wrong with that but it's not particularly nutritious and oats have so much more potential.
With a few additions you can make that simple bowl of oatmeal into a much more nutritious breakfast that's suitable for the whole family, including babies age 6 months+.
Here are my top 5 ways to pimp your porridge so it packs a far bigger nutrient punch…
1. Use Wholegrain Oats
My philosophy with food is this: the less processed, the better!
When it comes to porridge oats you’ve got three main options, each slightly more processed than the last:
1. Steel Cut / Pinhead Oats
2. Rolled Oats
3. Quick / Instant Oats
Steel cut (aka pinhead) oats are the least processed version - the one that’s closest to wholegrain.
They contain a little more protein, a little more fibre and have a slightly lower glycemic index than rolled or quick oats, meaning the body digests and absorbs them more slowly, leading to a slower rise in blood sugar.
The differences are very slight though, so I would never want to demonise the other types of oats. All three are highly nutritious and excellent sources of fibre, plant-based protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
If you do want to try steel cut oats you'll struggle to find them in any supermarkets. You can find them in health food shops though or you can just order them on Amazon.
They take a little longer to cook (about 20 mins on the stove or soaked overnight) so if you’re in a hurry, go for some quicker ones.
2. Level Up Your Liquids
Oatmeal is traditionally made with either water or skimmed milk, but we can easily boost the nutrients (and flavour) by making it with different liquids.
Any of the following are a great source of healthy fat, which gives us energy, is essential for brain and eye development in babies, improves heart health and helps us to absorb vitamins...
Nut or hemp milk (great if you're dairy free)
A dollop of natural yoghurt - either add during cooking or blob it on top when you serve it
Full fat coconut milk (soooo good when topped with dried coconut and raspberries!)
If you’re breastfeeding and making the porridge just for your baby, you can even use expressed breast milk to really level-up the healthy fats and nutrients.
3. Go Nuts
Nuts are nature's little miracles!
They're a great source of healthy fat as well, and contain heaps of other nutrients including fibre, B vitamins, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamin E.
They’re packed with protein too, which is vital for strength, muscle growth, tissue regeneration, helps us synthesise important hormones, supports our immune system and boosts our metabolism.
Protein is also the most satiating nutrient, meaning it makes you feel fuller for longer, so starting the day with a protein-powered breakfast helps to keep little hands (and big ones) out of the snack cupboard!
Try adding a tablespoon of nut butter, such as peanut, almond or cashew to your porridge while it's cooking, or serve it with a nice blob on top.
Alternatively, you could sprinkle crushed or flaked nuts on top of your oats.
If anyone in your family is allergic, or you just don't like nuts, you could try adding an egg instead to boost the protein and healthy fat content and give it an even creamier texture.
(No it doesn't taste eggy and no it doesn't turn into scrambled egg if you do it right!)
Just whisk it up beforehand, then stir it in gradually, bit by bit, towards the end of the cooking process, over a very low heat.
4. Get Seedy
Chia seeds and flaxseed are positively heaving with nutrients. Both are a great source of plant-based protein, fibre, healthy fatty acids and a variety of minerals.
They contain omega-3 fatty acids which helps improve brain function and boosts the immune system. They’re also said to improve digestion, lower blood sugar levels, promote heart health and protect against certain types of cancer.
Not bad for a handful of tiny seeds!
Stir a few teaspoons of each into your porridge while it’s cooking to give the chia seeds a chance to absorb some liquid (the jury's out on whether or not it's ok to eat them dried but I prefer to be safe than sorry).
5. Add Fruit
This one seems pretty obvious!
We all know that fruit is an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals, as well as being high in fibre and providing a wide range of antioxidants.
But using fruit in your porridge can also be a great way to sweeten it without using sugar or syrups. Try adding a mashed banana or some stewed apple into the mix while it’s cooking.
When it comes to porridge toppings, fruit is the perfect accompaniment, but which fruits offer the most nutritional bang for your buck?
One of the best options is berries, which is fortunate because they go so well on porridge!
Berries contain anthocyanins, which are flavonoids that can help to boost heart health and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, weight issues, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, and cognitive decline.
They also contain lots of seeds so they’ve got a higher fibre content, which helps your digestion, and they’re super low in calories so you can pile them on without worrying about your waistline.
My Favourite Oatbowl Recipes
Here are my top three oatbowl recipes, that use a mixture of these additions, toppings and flavours...
If you try any of these recipes please tag me - @mykindamum - I love to see your wonderful creations!