Porridge - The Ultimate Winter Warming Breakfast
Everyone remembers being fed porridge or Ready-Brek as a child, but did you know that oats are basically a superfood? I kid you not, there are some truly wonderful benefits to eating porridge for breakfast and I'll give you some of the highlights here.
They are full of soluble fibre. This is an absolute must for a healthy gut! It helps to add bulk to your stool which keeps your gut walls toned and healthy. That in turn helps keep motility regular. Fibre is also a food source for your beneficial bacteria, which helps to keep inflammation at bay and regulates your immune function. Yes, your little microbes are a huge part of your immune system. Keep them well-fed with fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains to keep them happy and doing their job at maximum efficiency.
Your daily porridge also helps to increase your production of short-chain fatty acids. This is a superfood for the cells in your gut and has an anti-inflammatory impact on your whole gut environment.
Beta-glucans (the soluble fibre) are also directly good for your immune system. They help to modulate your immune response, ensuring that your immune system doesn't over or under-react to challenges. Beta-glucans are also fab for another reason; they help to modulate our levels of LDL cholesterol. If you are cholesterol challenged and the GP is starting to ask if you'd like statins, oats can be a very helpful part of managing healthy cholesterol without medical intervention. Including oats is a great addition to a heart-healthy diet.
Oats have an incredibly stabilising effect on our blood sugar. They are a slow-burning source of carbohydrates, which keeps us feeling fuller for longer, keeps our internal thermostat level, therefore, keeping us feeling warmer and stopping the dreaded mid-morning sugar slump. Especially when you add some protein, such as ground almonds, chia seeds, ground flax, nut butter etc.
The fact that oats stabilise our blood sugar also means that they can help with our hormone balance. Out of control blood sugar can have a knock-on impact on your hormones. So if you notice your moods going up and down, irritability, menopausal symptoms getting more unpredictable, stress levels rising and so on, it is always worth making sure your blood sugar isn't getting a kick in the wrong direction from the foods you're having at mealtimes or grazing on in between. Starting the day with porridge can mean you're less likely to reach for biscuits mid-morning.
Oats are also a great source of minerals! They have seriously good levels of iron and zinc as well as manganese, copper, potassium etc. They're a source of antioxidants too.
You don't just have to have plain porridge either! We love our oats as an overnight soaked oat, healthy breakfast bars, baked oats and porridge topped with something different every day! Try to make sure you add a bit of protein to your porridge for an even more nutritional, filling and stabilising breakfast. You can use nuts, seeds or whip an egg white in whilst cooking for a super creamy porridge.
If you still want oats in the summer but can't face a hot breakfast then overnight oats are definitely for you. Pop your portion of oats (between 30 and 50 grams) into a small jar, add your ground almond. chia seed or ground flax. Cover well with any milk of your choice and leave to soak overnight in the fridge. In the morning you can either top with a little something and have it cold for a creamy delicious start to the day.
A few topping suggestions for both hot and cold oats:
Fruit puree - we love the Clearspring pots as there are lots to choose from so you don't get bored!
Nuts/seeds - in their ground or crushed form or as nut or seed butters
Spices - we love cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg etc.
Honey, molasses or a little maple syrup - be sparing though, the aim is to balance your blood sugar not shoot it through the roof
Last but not least, it's a seriously economical breakfast. We worked out that one of our 5kg bags portioned for 50g a day is 11p per portion! Even our gluten-free oats in the same measures works out to be 15p per portion. Definitely something to think about when you're weighing up the benefits!