The Perfect Porridge

Winter has arrived which means it’s officially porridge weather (yay!) A warm bowl of creamy oats is one of my favourite ways to start the day in the cooler months, and oats are seriously one of the best (and healthiest) ways to start any day.

Oats are a great source of carbohydrates which are perfect for that energy boost in winter. They’re also a good source of vitamins and minerals including thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, zinc, folate, vitamin E and fibre. In fact, oats are rich in a specific type of soluble fibre called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan has been linked to improve cholesterol levels and boost heart health by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol levels.

The beta-glucan in oats acts by forming a thick gel in the gut which binds to excess circulating cholesterol. This beta-glucan gel also helps to keep you feeling full for longer as it slows down the rate your body absorbs and digests food. This slowed digestion also means less blood sugar spikes and the prebiotic fibre in the oats feeds the good bacteria in your gut to maintain a healthy digestive tract. In fact, they are one of the simplest, tastiest and cheapest superfoods to help keep your gut microbiome happy.

Is there a difference between quick, rolled or steel cut oats?
Whether you’re choosing, quick, rolled or my personal fave, steel cut oats, all oats have similar nutritional benefits when it comes to carbs, fat and protein. However, the main difference is their level of processing as this affects the texture, cooking time and glycemic index (i.e. how they cause your blood sugars to change).

Steel cut oats are the least processed as the whole oat is chopped into pieces which keeps the bran intact. This means it’s more fibrous (so the highest fibre option of the bunch) with a lower glycemic index. The fibrous properties of steel cut oats give it a chewy texture but the downside is that they can also take quite some time to cook. If you’re conscious about blood sugar control, steel cut oats are best for you.

Rolled oats are first steamed and flattened (or rolled) to give their shape, and this shape also helps them to absorb liquid more easily that steel cut oats thereby allowing them to cook much faster. Quick oats undergo the same process as rolled oats but are rolled finer and then cut into smaller pieces, so they cook quicker but can have a bit of a mushy texture.

What about flavoured quick oats?
Flavoured quick oat sachets are a popular choice in the breakfast aisle and while I love that they are a portion controlled option, just be mindful that the variety you’re buying isn’t packed full of added sugar. However, that said most people tend to add a spoonful of sweetener to plain porridge anyway, so you do you.

If you want to make oats at home, this recipe is guaranteed to give you the creamiest oats ever! You can use steel cut, rolled or quick oats, I generally use rolled oats as they work best for me in the morning and don’t take too long to cook.  You could even add other whole grains like quinoa, amaranth or barley to boost the wholegrain variety for your gut microbiome (as variety is key to a healthy happy gut).

Ingredients:
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup water (you could even try coconut water to sweeten it slightly)
½ cup skim milk (or any type of milk/mylk you like)
Toppings:
Fruit, nuts, seeds, cacao nibs, nut butter

Method:
1. Place oats and water in a bowl and soak overnight. You can skip this step but soaking the oats overnight makes them super creamy when cooked.
2. Place the soaked oats into a saucepan with the milk and bring to the boil. Once it starts to boil, turn down to medium heat and cook for at least 5 minutes until the oats are thick and creamy. This may take more or less time but be sure to stir the pot occasionally to prevent the oats from sticking and burning.
3. Place the cooked oats into a bowl and top with your favourite toppings. My favourite combo right now is sliced banana, a touch of honey, peanut butter, chia seeds and pepitas. Other yummy combos include:
– Frozen blueberries + almond butter + roasted almonds + coconut
– Raspberries + choc hazelnut butter + roasted hazelnuts seeds + cacao nibs
– Cooked apple + cinnamon + honey

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