How to make your porridge pack a punch

For a while now, my mum has taken a calcium supplement as we don't eat much dairy.  She would have the obligatory drop of milk in her tea and I am a big, big fan of cheese but other than that, my stomach doesn't agree with dairy and she doesn't like yoghurt's or dairy based foods.  This could be cultural as dairy is not a key part of the Chinese diet like it is in the Western world.  A few weeks ago, our GP phoned and said that my mum's calcium levels were high that she should stop taking her calcium supplement.  I don't know why this is but she has been eating porridge every morning with a milk substitute for some time now.  She eats a bowl of porridge every morning and loves it.  It's healthy and to stop it being boring, we add some variety to make what could be a boring breakfast, an excellent choice in the morning.

So here are some variations and ideas to make your porridge really pack a punch.  There are of course, many different flavours of porridge oats available to buy off the shelf, strawberry, blueberry even pumpkin spice but why consume artificial flavourings when it's so easy to add your own flavours????

There are so many varieties of milk substitutes on the shelves nowadays that by simply changing the type of 'milk' you use, your porridge automatically takes a different slant.
  • Almond milk - one cup contains approximately 30 calories and 2.5 grams of fat (and that fat comes from heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats).  Almond milk does not contain any dairy, lactose, soy, eggs, cholesterol, gluten, MSG, or casein or whey (milk proteins).  But, steer clear if you are allergic to almonds.   
  • Cashew milk - Cashews are high in calories. 100 g of nuts provide 553 calories. They are packed with soluble dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and numerous health-promoting phytochemicals that help protect from diseases and cancer.  They are rich in “heart-friendly” monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic, and palmitoleic acids. These essential fatty acids help lower harmful LDL-cholesterol while increasing good HDL cholesterol in the blood. Cashew nuts are abundant sources of essential minerals. Manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium are especially concentrated in them. A handful of cashew nuts a day in the diet would provide enough of these minerals and may help prevent deficiency diseases.  Cashews are also good in many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B-1). 
  • Rice milk - Rice milk contains more carbohydrates than cow's milk. However, unlike cow's milk, rice milk doesn't contain lactose or cholesterol. This makes it healthy for your heart as well as safe for those who are lactose intolerant.  Rice milk is also often fortified with niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D and iron.
  • Coconut milk - Coconuts are highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. 
The above also come as sweetened or unsweetened.  We generally go for unsweetened as we prefer to use natural ingredients such as fruit or honey for sweetness.  

A great way to add flavour and extra nutrients is to add fruit to your porridge.  Our favourite is banana or either strawberries or blueberries.  Sometimes, we even add an orange.  I love when the ripe banana mixes into the porridge and makes a gooey mess.

Almond butter or peanut butter
I've started to add a dollop of either almond butter or peanut butter either on top of the porridge as a replacement for jam or melted into the porridge.  It gives it a lovely chocolate-y taste and smell as it melts and is a healthy alternative to the traditional jam packed full of sugar.  

Some of almond butter's health benefits come from its calcium and copper content. Both minerals play a role in brain cell communication and keep your nervous system functional.  Copper enables you to make melanin, which is a pigment that helps protects your skin from the sun.  Almond butter also contains beneficial magnesium and vitamin E. Like calcium, magnesium contributes to the health of your bones. It also helps you produce energy, as well as synthesize fatty acids needed for energy storage.  Almond butter offers cardiovascular benefits because of its fiber and  unsaturated fatty acid content. These fats improve your blood cholesterol levels to combat cardiovascular disease, and also provide energy. Fiber also benefits your cholesterol levels, and following a diet rich in fiber can reduce your coronary heart disease risk by up to one-third, notes the Linus Pauling Institute.

If I have no almond butter and have a sweet tooth that morning, I'll add a dollop of honey.  Honey has been known for its healing properties for thousands of years - the Ancient Greeks used it, and so have many other peoples through the ages.  Honey energizes our body, boosts immunity, fights bacteria, promotes healing of cuts and burns, remedies sore throat, cold, hangover, sleeplessness, stomach upsets and more.  

Note: avoid the above should you be allergic to either nuts or honey. 

Honestly, with all the health benefits and varieties above, I don't know why I can't eat porridge for breakfast, lunch and dinner!!

I would love to hear how you make your porridge and of any toppings you like to add to jazz up the flavour.



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