Pimp My Porridge

We love our breakfast smoothies as much as the next healthy living gal, but on those cold, dark and wet mornings, nothing hits the spot like a big bowl of warming porridge! 

We are firm believers in the importance of eating a proper breakfast to kickstart the day ahead but breakfast can get boring if you don't mix things up. Broadening your porridge horizons is also a great way to experiment with all of the amazing (but slightly scary sounding) "good grains" out there. We've rounded up a few inspirational porridge recipes to get you started, courtesy of a few our favourite health food bloggers. Have you tried any of these recipes? Do you pimp your porridge? Let us know in the comments below!


GREEN KITCHEN STORIES' RAW BUCKWHEAT, APPLE, WALNUT PORRIDGE

Serves 4

Image: Greenkitchenstories.com

Image: Greenkitchenstories.com

Ingredients

1 cup / 240 ml raw hulled buckwheat groats (whole or coarsely ground) + water for soaking

1 cup / 240 ml raw walnuts + water for soaking

2 green apples, cored

1 orange, juiced

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp vanilla extract or ground vanilla

Toppings (optional):

berries

pomegranate

bee pollen

cacao nibs

coconut flakes

nut butter

Instructions

  1. Place buckwheat and nuts in two separate bowls, cover with water and let soak for minimum 1 hour or overnight. Rinse and drain.
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender.
  3. Top with fresh berries or pomegranate, bee pollen, cacao nibs, coconut flakes and nut butter. Or whatever you have at home.

Tip: Keeps for 3-4 days in the fridge.


NUTRITION STRIPPED'S ANCIENT GRAINS PEAR PORRIDGE

Serves 4

Image: Nutritionstripped.com

Image: Nutritionstripped.com

Ingredients

2½ cups water (1 cup for quinoa, 1½ for amaranth)

1 cup brazil nut milk (1 cup brazil nuts + 4 cups water = see “guide to nut milks” post for recipe details)

½ cup amaranth

 ½ cup quinoa

1 cup pear (2 small pears/1 large pear), diced

 1 tablespoon maple syrup (stevia to taste for sugar free version)

2 teaspoons ground ginger

¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Toppings (optional): Pumpkin seeds or any other nut you enjoy

Instructions

  1. Rinse both the quinoa and amaranth very well or until the water runs clear.
  2. In two separate small sauce pans you will cook each grain, quinoa and amaranth.
  3. Bring water to a boil.
  4. Both grains require 1 cup/ 1½ cups of water (respectively)- more depending on how quickly they absorb the water.
  5. Cook quinoa for 15-20 minutes or until soft (the quinoa will have “tails” that show). Cook amaranth for about 20-25 minutes (the amaranth will resemble a grit like texture).
  6. In a large mixing bowl stir all ingredients in with both grains until mixed well. I like to “mash” the pear into the grains and top with chunks of pear.
  7.  Pour Brazil Nut milk on top, however much you enjoy.
  8. Serve and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or more fresh pear. Enjoy!

Tip: this recipe makes 4 servings, so what if you need it just for 1 person? Simply make the recipe as is and save the leftovers, reheat the next morning and there you go- breakfast for 4 days already prepared.


MY NEW ROOTS' PUMPKIN PIE AMARANTH PORRIDGE

Serves 2

Image: Mynewroots.com

Image: Mynewroots.com

Ingredients

½ cup amaranth, soaked if possible (minimum 8 hours)

1 cup coconut milk, or water (you may need more if using un-soaked grains)

1/3 cup pumpkin puree (preferably fresh, or canned) 

pinch of sea salt

pinch of: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove (or substitute all with pumpkin pie spice)

1/3 vanilla bean pod 

maple syrup to taste

1/3 cup coconut flakes, toasted

Instructions

  1. Soak amaranth for as long as possible, 8 hours minimum, 24 hours is optimal.
  2. Drain and rinse amaranth. Combine with coconut milk, pumpkin puree, sea salt, spices, and vanilla bean (seeds scraped, and empty bean pod). Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, stirring often to prevent scorching on the bottom. Simmer on lowest heat for 15 minutes with the lid on (watch to see if liquid level becomes too low. If so, add a little extra coconut milk or water) Turn heat off, and let sit for 10 minutes with the lid on to thicken. 
  3. Sweeten with maple syrup to taste (1-2 tablespoons). Serve. Drizzle with coconut milk, sprinkle with coconut flakes.

DELICIOUSLY ELLA'S COCONUT PORRIDGE

Serves 1

Image: Deliciouslyella.com

Image: Deliciouslyella.com

Ingredients

1 cup of water

1/3 a cup of oats

4 tablespoons of coconut milk

1 tablespoon of almond butter

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

1 banana

Optional: 1 tablespoon of maca powder for an extra energy boost

Toppings:

fresh blueberries

bee pollen

raw honey

crushed nuts or seeds

raisins

goji berries

cacao nibs

Instructions

  1. Simply add the oats, water, coconut milk and slices of banana to a saucepan and allow it to heat for about ten minutes, until the liquid has all been absorbed.

  2. Then stir in the almond butter and coconut oil and let them dissolve into mix.

  3. Once it’s all nicely mixed pour it into a bowl, add all your favourite toppings and then it’s ready to enjoy!


Seven a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?

According to research by University College London, released this week, eating seven portions of fruit and vegetables daily is the magic number, not five as per the current Government health guidelines. 

Image: She Knows

Image: She Knows

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, examined the diets of over 65,000 people in England over a twelve-year period – from 2001 to 2013.

The study found that the risk of death from any cause was cut by 42 per cent for people who ate seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables daily compared to people who managed only one portion. It was also associated with a 25% lower risk of cancer and 31% lower risk of heart disease or stroke.

According to the study the risk of death from any cause was reduced on a sliding scale depending on the volume of fruits and vegetables consumed:

  • 14% by eating one to three portions of fruit or vegetables per day;
  • 29% for three to five portions of fruit or vegetables per day;
  • 36% for five to seven portions of fruit or vegetables per day; and
  • 42% for seven or more portions of fruit or vegetables per day (up to around 10 portions a day).

In the context of the study a "portion" means about 80g (3oz), meaning or "one large fruit or a handful of smaller fruit or veg" according to Dr Oyinlola Oyebode, who led the study.

When considering the results of research such as the current study there are also other factors to consider, mainly that the average person consuming seven or more portions of fresh fruits and vegetables daily will tend to subscribe to a more healthy lifestyle in general for example, being a non-smoker, exercising regularly and drinking in moderation. While the researchers at UCL claim to have taken such social and lifestyle factors into account, the impact of such factors shouldn’t be underestimated.

Nonetheless, Dr Oyebode (as quoted by the BBC) described the results of the research as “staggering”. "The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die - at any age", she explained.

 Dr Oyebode and her colleagues also confirmed that not all fruits and veggies were created equal. The research found that the preventative effects were strongest in fresh vegetables followed by salad and then fresh fruit. On the flip side the study found that fruit juice provides no benefit at all while canned or frozen fruit actually increases your chances of dying by 17 per cent.

The researchers have admitted that they are unsure how to interpret these findings. While frozen and canned fruit were grouped together in the study, they are not generally accepted as having the same nutritional profile. While frozen fruit is generally considered to have the same nutritional benefits as fresh fruit, canned fruit is commonly stored in sugar syrups packed full of nasties which negate much of their health benefits. This is also strange given that the study found frozen vegetables conferred the same reduction in risk as fresh vegetables. One possibility is that people who eat predominately frozen or tinned fruit have less access to fresh produce generally which could indicate a less healthy diet in general. The team at UCL have acknowledged that more work needs to be done on this area to see whether the problem is sweetened, tinned fruit which is skewing the results.

The study also raises questions around how these findings fit into the recent findings on the devastating health effects of sugar. While we don’t have the time or space to outline the science in detail here, at it’s most basic our body processes sugar as sugar whether it’s from a good source (such as fruit) or bad (a Snickers bar) although obviously fruit provides additional nutritional benefits compared to a chocolate bar. The World Health Organisation has recently halved its daily sugar recommendation which now equates to around 6 tsp. Given that one banana alone can swallow up your entire daily allowance, it follows that packing your seven a day full of fruit may negate the positive effects shown by the study (something we are currently grappling with here at The Holist). Therefore you should try and ensure your daily intake is skewed heavily in favour of vegetables. The UK Government would do well to look towards Australia where they recommend a “5+2” approach, with five portions of vegetables and only two portions of fruit.

Public health commentators have criticised the findings, saying that changing the Government’s official five-a-day message would be confusing and that it is hard enough to get people to eat five portions and that seven will seem so unrealistic that people will be deterred. At present, only one in four Britons manages to eat 5-a-day and just one in 10 teenagers.

So is seven or even ten portions of fruit and vegetables realistic? While we will admit that here at The Holist HQ we subscribe to a healthier lifestyle than the average Britain, we do believe it is possible for the average person to achieve. Using Dr Oyebode’s portion size guide we’ve set out a pretty typical weekday menu from The Holist HQ below and totted up the totals to show it isn’t as hard as it sounds. 

While the study isn’t perfect, in our opinion, any findings that encourage people to eat more fruit and veggies rather than processed junk is a good thing and should be celebrated.

Do you manage seven portions a day or struggle to hit five? What are your secrets? We’d love to hear your thoughts below!


Typical day at The Holist HQ

  * True to their official classification we’ve treatedtomatoes as a fruit not a vegetable.

Breakfast: Green Smoothie

Kale (0.5), Spinach (0.5), Celery (0.5), Alfalfa Sprouts (0.5), Romaine (0.5), Banana (0.5), Kiwi (0.5), Apple (0.5)

= 2.5 portions vegetables, 1.5 portions fruit.

Lunch: Rocket Salad

Rocket (1), Cucumbers (1), Cherry Tomatoes* (1), Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Walnuts and Avocado Oil

= 2 portions vegetables, 1 portion fruit.

Dinner: Baked Salmon

Salmon, Garlic (0.1), Roasted Tomatoes (1), Sweet Potatoes (1) and Broccoli (1)

= 2.1 portions vegetables, 1 portion fruit.

TOTAL = 6.6 portions vegetables, 3.5 portions fruit