Super porridge- 7 mins
Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. That PR slogan hasn’t stood up to scientific rigour over the years. Nonetheless, eating breakfast is generally a good idea, with a healthy one being even better. To this end, I’ve incorporated breakfast into my day over the past month.
For a while, I drank Huel and enjoyed the benefits it brought. A nutritionally balanced meal with just a few minutes of prep and for a couple of pounds. It came with the reassurance that regardless of what is eaten for the rest of the day, a solid dose of nutrition lays the foundation of the day. Then I paid closer attention to what was in it and decided not to re-order. Athletic Greens was a good shout. A shot of Micronutrients with pre and probiotic ingredients. It is similar to Huel in many ways, but even at a lower dose, it probably money unwisely spent.
Understanding my digestion to improve general health forced itself to the top of my todo list a couple months back. . . but I’ll spare you the story. As part of that education, the podcast ‘Gutfull: What to Eat for a Happy Gut’ acted as a great introduction to foods and their effects on gut health. It shared clear and practical knowledge about the role food plays in our health and suggested some raw foods to introduce into our diet to create a more rounded nutritional experience. Looking into the author, I’m confident that the content is highly credible advice.
A key lesson was about fibre and its effect on the body. Fibre is a catch-all term in the same way vitamin is for a range of wildly different compounds. At its most basic, fibre adds either physical or absorbed bulk to help keep digestion smooth from end to end. The choice of fibre and the preparation method can have a remarkable effect on the bacteria in the gut tract. Given that different bugs in various parts of the digestive system feed off different fibres, and these bugs support our health in fundamental ways, it is wise to give them some consideration.
To replace highly processed food substitutes such as Huel, I experimented with creating something that ticked similar nutritional goals. Ideally, it should be something that can be commuted with. In a perfect world, it’d provide one serving of each of the whole foods:
- Whole grains
Knowing how nutritiously dense oats are and a childhood filled with eating them, they seem like an intelligent carb choice. A blend of seeds and nuts would add to it, and some sultanas can play the part of the fruit until the new berry patch offers its bounty. A rummage in the local cookware shop unearthed a coffee grinder and a container suitable for cooking and travelling around with.
The experiment was on.
After a couple months or so of tinkering, the following recipe is the base of my simple but remarkably healthy breakfast. I’m happy with it as a cornerstone meal, and the simplicity of switching up the ingredients helps to keep it from becoming boring.
- 60 grams of oats
- 16 grams of oat bran.
- 6 grams of powdered almond.
- 10 grams of linseed and chia seed mix.
- 24 grams of chopped nuts.
- 8 grams of pumpkin seeds.
- 7 grams of sunflower seed.
- 30 grams of sultanas
- 150 ml of semi-skimmed milk
- 150 ml of water
- 1 teaspoon of honey
If this is your first time cooking porridge, note that this is a volume-based dish. You’ll need twice as much volume of liquid as you do of oats. I use a 150ml glass for measuring ingredients quickly and simply. Everything else is 1, 2, or 3 scoops of the spoon that came with the grinder.
1) Put the oats, bran, germ, ground almonds, milk and water into the dish. Microwave for 60 seconds, stir and leave to stand for a few minutes. Stroke a cat. 2) Blend the seeds and nuts into a coarse powder. Add the result, the sultanas and the spoonful of honey to the dish and stir well. Return to the microwave and cook for 30 seconds. 3) Give it a good stir and enjoy.
Quite often, this process gets completed over a 15-minute timeframe. Leaving the ingredients to soak is a good thing to do for nutritional availability. You might need another 30 seconds in the microwave if you don’t leave it to stand.
To further shape the meal, consider the following:
- Using a blend of oat types to shape the body’s glycemic response
- Replacing the chopped nuts with a big spoonful of peanut butter
- Swapping the honey for maple syrup
- Substituting the sultanas with berries. If using fresh, put them in close to the end.
- Add a spoonful of cocoa powder
|Component||Amount per serving|
|- of which are sugars||20 g|
|- Saturated fat||4 g|
|- Monounsaturated fat||12 g|
|- Polyunsaturated fat||8 g|
|Omega-3 fatty acids (ALA)||3.3 g|
|Omega-6 fatty acids||4.6 g|
Vitamins & Minerals
|Nutrient||Amount per serving||Daily Value|
|Vitamin A||45 mcg||5%|
|Vitamin E||9.5 mg||64%|
|Thiamin (Vitamin B1)||0.4 mg||32%|
|Vitamin B6||0.4 mg||22%|
|Niacin (Vitamin B3)||2.5 mg||16%|
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)||0.3 mg||21%|
|Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)||0.9 mg||18%|
|Vitamin K||0.5 mcg||1%|
Note: The above breakdown comes via ChatGPT. I’ve checked that it gets the values for a few of the individual items correct, so I’m trusting that it’s pretty close.
A strong dose of fibre at the start of the day was the key aim of this breakfast experiment. . . for reasons. This dish ticks this box by providing a range of different types:
Beta-glucan: A soluble fibre known for its cholesterol-lowering effects, as it can bind to bile acids in the intestines and promote their excretion. Beta-glucan can also help to regulate blood sugar levels and promote feelings of fullness.
Insoluble fibre: A type of fibre that does not dissolve in water and adds bulk to stool. Insoluble fibre can also help to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Resistant starch: A type of starch that resists digestion in the small intestine and passes into the large intestine, where it is fermented by bacteria. . . causing farts. This process produces short-chain fatty acids, which can help to improve gut health and reduce the risk of certain diseases. Resistant starch can also help to regulate blood sugar levels and promote feelings of fullness.
Pectin: A type of soluble fibre. It is known for its cholesterol-lowering effects and can also help to regulate blood sugar levels and promote feelings of fullness.
Lignans: They have antioxidant properties and may help to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Lignans can also act as prebiotics, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut