By Dr. Angelina Riopel, Naturopathic Doctor
Porridge is a delicious and healthy winter staple. It is rich in fiber and a great way to balance blood sugar and help keep your appetite and cravings under control throughout the day.
The health benefits of porridge can vary depending on the type of oats we use and what we serve it with. The traditional milk and brown sugar, although delicious, can have a negative effect on blood sugar and digestion. Oats are naturally gluten free, although can become contaminated during processing, so it is best to choose a gluten-free brand. Whole oats are preferable to quick oats, as they are lower on the glycemic index, meaning a more favorable effect on blood sugar levels.
Try adding different combinations of the following power-foods to improve the nutrient content and flavor of your porridge. Oats themselves are a medicinal food known to strengthen and calm the nervous system.
Cinnamon to help balance blood sugar
Chia or flax seed will increase the fiber content
Dried fruit (organic and sulfite –free) such as apricots, dates, prunes or raisons or Fresh fruit such as berries or bananas for flavor, fiber and nutrients
Unsalted, raw nuts and seeds will increase the protein content of your porridge. You can also mix nuts and seeds together, in equal parts, and grind in a coffee grinder, then store in the freezer. This is an easy way to have all that nutrition ready to go!
Try nut milk such as almond milk or coconut milk (I prefer canned), as a dairy alternative
HOT PORRIDGE (serves 4).
Hot porridge is better for those with more of a cold constitution. Although it will take a bit longer to prepare in the morning, it is well worth it!
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a pot and add 1 cup whole rolled oats (not quick oats), then reduce temperature to simmer on medium/low heat until the oats are cooked. Cooking time is typically about 6-8 minutes.
Once the oats are cooked you can add the following:
4 dates chopped or 4 tbls of raisons
½ cup of canned coconut milk or almond milk
½ cup of berries (fresh or frozen) If using frozen berries, add while the porridge is still cooking, but close to the end.
2 tbls of ground flax seed or chia seeds
4 tbls of raw pumpkin seeds or hemp hearts
BIRCHER MUESLI aka OVERNIGHT OATMEAL (serves 4)
This recipe is super easy and delicious! Simply mix everything together in the evening, and refrigerate overnight. Serve in the morning with nut or coconut milk and fresh berries.
1 ½ cups whole rolled oats
4 tsp chia seeds or flax seed
1/4 cup chopped dried fruit such as apricots, prunes, dates or raisons
½ cup of raw, unsalted mixed nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, hazel nuts or walnuts)
1 fresh orange and grapefruit juiced
¼ cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
2 ½ cups of natural yogurt, unsweetened almond milk or canned coconut milk (1 ½ cup coconut milk to 1 ½ cups water)