Wednesday 10 October 2012

Power foods #2 – porridge that’s just right for Goldilocks

Day #250 of #Project366 - banana porridge in the morning light

So apparently today is World Porridge Day - which means it's the ideal time for me to tell you about one of my favourite "power" foods!

Porridge hits all three "power" food buttons – it’s full of fibre that burns up fat, contains beta-glucans to boost your immunity against nasty bugs, and as a complex carb it increases serotonin levels to keep you calm on dark and chilly mornings!  

Porridge with blueberries and brown sugar

I'm not ashamed to admit that last winter I seriously struggled with my porridge production. Clearly my increasingly frustrated tweets amused my twitter followers no end, judging by amount of online advice I received from fellow foodies stunned by my inability to cook this most basic meal.

This Goldilocks tried every technique, but my porridge was never "just right"…

…My microwave version wasn't so speedy after factoring in all the extra time cleaning up the oaty overspill…

…No matter how much I stirred the saucepan's contents with my magic Scottish spurtle (see day #40 of #Project366), the slow-cooked mixture never seemed to plump up properly…

…Combining blueberries and baking powder whilst attempting an American-style baked oatmeal simply resulted in an unappetising purple-green mush…(there’s no chance of me sharing the photographic evidence of *that* culinary disaster!)

Sweet porridge with amaretti biscuits

Thankfully, after a masterclass by porridge pros Daddy and Mummy Bear during a visit to my little London flat, I think I’ve finally unlocked the key to making sumptuously soft oats that aren’t too hot, too cold, too runny or too dry.

Admittedly I’m no Felicity Cloake, and these tricks only work for the (cheating…!) microwave cooking technique, but here are my top tips for producing perfect porridge that’ll make your breakfast a breeze:

Microwaved porridge (serves 1)

  • 50g jumbo rolled oats (Of the brands I’ve tested so far, both Tesco Finest and Jordans Chunky Traditional versions produce a full-bodied porridge)
  • 125ml your preferred type of milk plus 125ml cold water (I’ve started using unsweetened almond milk as this also ticks two “power” food boxes out of three)
  • 1 pinch rock salt (lovely Nigel Slater swears by this)
  • Toppings and sweeteners of your choice (as well as the standard drizzle of honey, I’ve also experimented with various different flavour combinations, such as blueberries and brown sugar, amaretti biscuits, and Sophie Dahl’s suggestion of plums stewed in orange juice and cinnamon. My current favourite is adding diced banana after step 2 below, then sprinkling crystallised ginger over the top during step 4)  
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large heat-proof bowl and leave to soak (ideally overnight)
  2. Microwave the mixture on full power for 3 minutes, then leave to rest for 2 minutes
  3. Give the mixture a stir to test its consistency, then microwave again on half power for another 2 minutes for gooey porridge or 3 minutes for a thicker mixture
  4. Leave to settle and cool for a final couple of minutes, then add your preferred flavourings or toppings before tucking in

Since returning from my Spanish holiday I’ve beaten the “back to school blues” by starting each day with a comforting bowl of creamy porridge, and I’ve been stunned at how my normally grumbling tummy has remained full and toasty right through until lunchtime. My oat addiction is now so severe that I’ve even whipped up a batch as a soothing simple supper after a late night beavering away in the office…in fact I might even eat some tonight to celebrate World Porridge Day!

Sophie Dahl's porridge with plums stewed in orange juice and cinnamon

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