Porridge, oaty goodness

Porridge has to be one of my favourite foods. I eat it all year round, winter or summer. For warmer weather I sometimes swap over to a bowl of overnight oats rather than porridge, but the principles of building a tasty, nutritious bowl of oats works for both hot or cold.

There is a misunderstanding when it comes to the term ‘carbohydrate’. When people think of carbohydrates they think bread, pasta and biscuits. Carbohydrates are an essential energy source and are actually in all fruit, veg, grains and anything that grows! All carbohydrates break down into ‘complex carbohydrates’, which are slower to digest, and ‘simple carbohydrates’, which absorb in the system very fast. Complex carbohydrates, such as wholegrain, spelt, rye, brown rice, oats, barley, quinoa, fruits, vegetables and legumes, are a great source of slow release energy. Simple carbohydrates such as white flour, white rice, sugar, biscuits, cakes and processed foods should be consumed in moderation, or for maximum health, avoided!

Oats are a complex carbohydrate, which means it takes longer for your stomach to break them down, keeping you fuller for longer and giving your stomach the chance to absorb all the nutrition from the oats and all the lovely toppings you add. This makes them a slow release energy food and keeps your blood sugar levels balanced. They also contain fiber which does the same job as the complex carbohydrates, and aids gut health by keeping everything moving through the system. Simple carbohydrates, such as breakfast cereals, which contain lots of sugar and highly processed grains, are absorbed in your stomach too fast, giving it no time to absorb any of the nutrition and causes a spike in your blood sugar levels.

Oats have a surprising amounts of protein. Quinoa, which is touted as one of the most nutritious pseudo grains, supplies 8gms per bowl, and oats supplies 6gms. Not bad considering oats are a third of the price of flaked quinoa! If protein is your focus, you can use almond milk instead of milk, and add a handful of seeds to your porridge. You’ll find the slow release energy of the oats, mixed with the added boost of protein, will keep you going much longer, and keep your energy levels on an even key.

Benefits: oats provide a slow release supply of energy, which helps balance blood sugar levels and prevent a mid morning slump, making them are a great start to the day. They also help lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease and contain a natural sedative which helps treat depression, anxiety and insomnia. They are easy to digest, making them a good choice for upset stomachs. They are also a good source of fibre, giving you 5gm of fiber per bowl. Fibre aids gut health, helps prevent heart disease and diabetes, and promotes healthy weight management.

I love to mix up my porridge and try new flavours. Porridge is very popular at the moment. There are lots of great recipes in all the recipe books and the food bloggers I follow. So many infact, it can be hard to remember all the different combinations. So I designed my ‘Porridge Builder’, to remind me of all the options, and vary the nutritional content of my breakfast throughout the week. Click on my ‘Porridge Builder’ above, print it out and use it as a guide to build countless varieties of your morning bowl of porridge or overnight oats. Don’t forget to scribble notes of the blends that tickle your taste buds the best!

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru