A healthy, easy and filling breakfast
Breakfast can be a massive challenge on a weekday – getting it quickly, making sure we have enough time to sit and eat it, and making it nutritious enough to last us through until lunchtime are my main hurdles. For me, porridge ticks all the boxes – it’s easy, quick and healthy, and easy to vary the flavours each time.
Skipping breakfast does no one any favours, and eating the wrong kind of breakfast can seriously impact how our day turns out; children going to school on no or a high GL breakfast (i.e. most refined cereals or toast with jam) simply don’t do as well. On the weekend, sustaining the children through a morning of football or dancing is also important. Boxed cereal doesn’t do the job – they’ll be low on energy and wanting a snack much earlier.
Although it’s easier said than done, it is important to eat meals together as a family and I find it much easier to do this consistently at breakfast. Research shows that eating improves social bonds in the family. And get this – studies also show that eating together results in better academic performance, and a lower likelihood of teenagers abusing drugs and alcohol.
A requirement of weekday breakfasts is that they need minimal preparation, chopping and cooking. So our weekday breakfasts alternate between eggs and porridge.
Porridge shouldn’t be boring, it shouldn’t be stodgy and it shouldn’t take an age to make. If you don’t enjoy oats, you can make porridge from any grain – brown rice flakes, barley, quinoa or millet for instance. You can also make it savoury instead of sweet (try nourishing brown rice flakes, chicken stock, grated ginger, spring onions and miso paste!).
But oat porridge has benefits for adults and children – it’s gluten-free (check it says ‘certified gluten-free oats’ to make sure they’re not cross-contaminated), is low GI/GL so great at giving a balanced blood sugar start to the day, is full of fibre, and the beta-glucan in oats reduces cholesterol levels and increases satiety – in other words it makes you feel fuller for longer.
Porridge is also really cheap and a serving can cost less than ten pence, so cheaper as well as healthier than boxed cereals. Steer clear of the flavoured and instant versions; these are more expensive, higher GI/GL and contain unnecessary ingredients. You just need a plain old bag of oats.
All porridge is pretty much the same to make, so the below recipe is for ‘original‘ porridge, which we serve just drizzled with maple syrup – or manuka honey if anyone is under the weather.
If you want to experiment with more flavours and antioxidants, our top 5 current favourite porridges are:
2. Apple and Cinnamon – stirring in a grated apple and teaspoon of cinnamon
3. Coconut and Banana – using coconut milk and topped with grated nutmeg, chopped banana and coconut shreds
4. Chocolate Pear – colourful, high antioxidant – check out the full recipe – we alternate this with chocolate raspberry according to the season!
5. Berry Porridge – ultra easy, with frozen berries – check out the full recipe
For a casual Sunday breakfast when you have all the time in the world, by all means experiment with alternative breakfasts. But in the week, when you need a nourishing, easy breakfast and have to get out the door quickly – why not give porridge a try?
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