Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This porridge is just right. Food that your grandmamma would recognise

Porridge is immensely satisfying. Warming, sweet, sticky and filling: it is busting with the goodness of whole grains and fibre and yet it tastes like gooey breakfast pudding.

With dried and fresh fruit and nuts and natural yoghurt and honey and nutmeg and cinnamon - it is decadent and over the top and basically just really, really good for you. Unlike eggs and bacon or waffles or pancakes or coffee and a croissant, eating porridge for breakfast entitles me to walk around with a smug, self-satisfied look on my face. It’s ridiculously healthy and pretty basic yet in no way hints at any kind of deprivation.

Food doesn’t need to be complicated or sugary or buttery to taste good.

And food shouldn’t be boring or uninteresting or restrictively-limited in order to be good for us.

So, in the words of Michael Pollan, lets “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”.

Like most things that are truly healthy, porridge is not overly processed (for rolled oats the oat-groats are hulled and rolled flat. ‘Quick oats’ are then also pre-steamed to hasten the cooking process). My deluxe version incorporates lots of fresh fruits. It has a variety of ingredients, all of which are pretty basic (that is, in or very close to their natural form). It is low in fat. Low in sugar, and most of the sugars are in their most natural, unprocessed form. It’s good and it’s good for you.

So when Pollan offers the nutritionally and environmentally sound advice that we “don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise” this porridge rises to the challenge. It’s food that looks like food. But more than that – it’s food that conveys a certain sense of nourishment beyond the sustenance it offer. It’s nurturing, wholesome, culturally centring food.

It’s food that looks like home. Even if you’ve never seen a farmhouse, you know that this is what you’d have for breakfast there. It’s the food of childhood stories and winter mornings and the countryside. Even if, like me, you don’t have a grandmother to make it for you and share it with you, it’s food that the archetypal grandmamma would make.

This porridge is just right.

Porridge that is just right

For each serving:

½ cup rolled oats
1 cup water
½ tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp sultanas or chopped dried fruit
¼ tsp each of nutmeg and cinnamon. Ground ginger is also lovely.
1 cup chopped fresh fruit (or mix in with frozen berries) – ie, pear, apple, passionfruit (banana and mango is delicious in summer)
1 tbsp low fat natural yoghurt
1 tbsp nuts (ie, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans)
1 tsp honey
¼ cup low fat milk

Bring oats and water to a simmer in a small saucepan and cook until the porridge is thick and the oats are cooked (usually about 10 - 15 minutes).

Pour into a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and dried fruit. Top with fresh fruit, then yoghurt and nuts. Drizzle the honey over, and pour milk around the edge of the bowl.

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