Wednesday, 6 May 2009

perfect porridge

Porridge is one of the most nutritious breakfasts you can have in the morning. But so often we just can't be bothered to make it...I know I can't anyway.

BUT, I have recently rediscovered my love for oatmeal before 9am. I have found the perfect food to keep me going all day...it really does. I can tell the difference in my energy levels when I have porridge, so it is worth making it. I promise.

Its important to get the right kind of oats to start with, otherwise your mission will fail. I have found that the cheapest oats are usually the best, a huge back of Tesco's Scottish Porridge Oats suits me just fine. Its important that its flaked oats, rather than rolled or large oats. The smaller the particles, the better the porridge; believe me on this one.

Oatmeal should only be reserved for the more hardcore of porridge eaters, as it has a more distinct texture and flavour. Oatmeal is great in baking though; I wouldn't pass up an oatmeal raisin cookie if it was offered to me!

Ok, so you have your bag of value porridge oats. Full of fibre and so easy to use. Next you will have to decide on what you will cook it with.

In my opinion, I have come to enjoy porridge with half water, half soya milk. But half water, half goats milk is delicious too. Of course you can just add regular cows milk, but half and half is healthier, isn't it? The great thing about porridge oats, is that the natural milk in the oats is released quicker, so you get a much creamier porridge. I sometimes just use water to cook my porridge, and am always astounded by how delicious it is.

Ok, now, rather than tell you exactly how much water to oats you should have, I will tell you what I do each morning. As I never measure exactly.

I will put a LARGE handful of oats in the pan (but it does depend on how hungry I am), and then cover it in water, so it just goes over the top of the oats, so you can't see them any more. I might add more liquid at a later stage, depending on how it looks as it cooks.

Then I put it on the heat, a very medium temperature, as boiling it will cook it too fast, and the oat milk won't have time to be let out and it will taste really bland. I stir continuously whilst it cooks so that the flavours enfuse, and it really is a nice even texture.

What you are looking for is a nice creamy consistency. So you can't see any oat particles any more, and there isn't any separation in the ingredients. I usually think its ready, tell myself to wait a bit longer, until it is actually ready. The heat really needs to sink in.

People all have a preference for how they like their porridge. Some people enjoy having it really runny, some prefer it to be standing up on the plate its so hard. But, you will come to learn exactly how you like it.

Whatever you do, try to avoid cooking it in the microwave. Although, having said that, my grandmother does make excellent microwave porridge. But she takes it out every minute to beat it with a spoon, so that the texture is right and its thoroughly cooked all the way through.

Now for the toppings. This is the most fun part of making porridge.

My personal preference is to add some sultanas to the porridge a couple of minutes before the end of cooking time, so they are all swollen, juicy and delicious. Then when its in my bowl, I drench it in honey, and sprinkle it with sunflower seeds. The textures and flavours are incredible.

Another good porridge topping is dried blueberries and linseeds. Yummy! I can't recommend that enough.

Some people enjoy putting milk on top, but I personally have never understood that. It is tradition though.

Other ideas for toppings: dried fruit, seeds, dark chocolate chips (indulgence!), banana, tinned fruit - drained, maple syrup, jam. Please leave a comment to let me know what your favourite topping is! I am always up for trying out different ideas, no matter how bizarre they might seem.

Ok. So that is your quick tips on making porridge. And making it taste good too!

Check out these tasty and healthy breakfast recipes at EnjoyHealthyEating.com

UPDATE: The most beautiful porridge is made by mixing 1/2 cup porridge oats, 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup water together and putting it on a low heat until cooked. This is how I am currently making my porridge anyway 

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