When the leaves are starting to fall and the days are getting bitter cold, I find myself craving more and more warm and comforting food and my daily bowl of steaming hot porridge becomes a fixed staple in my morning routine. A bit of a winter life necessity , to be true.
Cuddling up in a cozy sweater and stirring my oats in the gloomy morning light of my kitchen , while sipping on a cup of tea and enjoying the last moments of silence before my little gang of monsters rises, has something very calming and almost meditative to it and I try to persue this ritual as often as I can.
Porridge has had a pretty reputation in the past , and I admit that it´s plain watered down version is neither really appealing nor tasty , yet I think when prepared with care and a couple of special ingredients , it makes not only a nutrition packed, versatile and healthy start into the day but also a filling and incredibly delicious breakfast.
Many people translate Porridge with Oatmeal and although cooked oats might be the most well known version ,basically every grain can be turned into a great Porridge.
Semolina , Quinoa, Amaranth, Polenta, Millet,Rice, Couscous and Buckwheat for example are some great and nutritious alternatives, if you are looking for some variety in change and texture.
Polenta and Semolina have the finest structure , so they are your go-to grains if you are looking for a creamy and silky smooth Porridge , while Couscous , Quinoa , Amaranth or Millet are perfect if you like a bit of something to chew on.
The Perfect Porridge Formula
Since this post is dedicated to Porridge in general , covering different types of grains, I can obviously not provide you with „the one and only“ perfect Porridge Formula.
The different types of grains require different amounts of liquid for the perfect consistency and while oats are basically cooked in an instance Amaranth for example takes over half an hour until perfectly soft. The cooking directions on the packaging is usually a pretty good guideline to stick to , in search for the perfect consistency , although for porridges I usually opt for some more liquid than required. Cooked grains always tend to get a bit too dense, so adding a bit more liquid will give your Porridge a lighter structure.
Here is a rough overview of the grains and liquid measurements that will (in my opinion) yield the best consistency for your porridge.How ever, feel free to add more if you Need or cook longer if you find it too runny. You can use water or any kind of milk for your liquid part , in fact you could even use a mix of both just note that the more milk you use the creamier your porridge will be.
1 Part Oats – 2 Part Liquid
1 Part Polenta -4 Parts Liquid plus some more
1 Part Couscous-1 1/2 Parts Liquid
1 Part Quinoa – 2 Parts Liquid
1 Part Millet -2 Parts Liquid plus some more
1Part Semolina- 4 Parts Liquid
I think we can all agree that the level of sweetness is highly dependent on personal taste. What is perfectly sweet for me,could be way too sweet or not sweet enough for others.
For your Porridge base I always recommend to be careful with the use of sweeteners, especially if you are using toppings like dried or fresh fruit , chocolate , caramel drizzle etc. , that will naturally add some extra sweetness to your bowl.
Usually 1-2 TBS of sweeteners like Maple or Agave Syrup , Honey , Coconut Blossom Sugar are enough for 1 serving and make for a a subtle yet not too overpowering sweetness. If you want to opt for even healthier or more natural sweeteners , you could try a mashed Banana, apple sauce or medjool Dates.
Also a pinch of salt will add some depth to your porridge and helps in balancing out the sweetness.
Once you have heated your liquid , make sure to turn the temperature down to medium high heat. Porridge will get burnt incredibly fast, so the best that you can do is to keep stirring until it is completely done.
Sometimes , when you use a bit too much heat it happens , that your porridge will get too dense, in that case simply stir in some more liquid until you have your preferred consistency.
You can soak your oats and grains over night. This will reduce cooking time.
When working with spices like cinammon heat one tsp of Coconut oil in your pot , before adding grains or liquid, add your spices and fry for a minute or so until fragrant.This will amazingly enhance the aroma of your spices.
Toppings and Twists
No matter if we are talking about Ice Cream, Pizza or Porridge , toppings and spices are always a bit like the icing on the cake , aren’t they ?
Stewed or fresh fruit , jam , nut butter ,granola, frozen berries,chocolate drizzle, cocoa nibs , a grilled banana, crumbled cookies or chopped nuts are just some of a many,many variations for rounding up your porridge bowl.
The Ideal Oatmeal Porridge
1/3 cup quick oats
1 cup of almond milk
1 tsp coconut oil
2 TBS sweetener of your choice
a pinch of salt
cinnamon, chai spices, vanilla etc.
Put all of the ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer, stirring frequently till thick, adding more liquid if necessary.
Here are some of my favorite variations:
Coconut Polenta Porridge with warm Cardamom Blueberries and Pistachios
1/2 cup of Polenta
2 cups of cashew milk or other milk
3 TBS coconut cream
1 tsp cafe d`arab spice or chai spice
2-3 TBS sweetener of your choice
a pinch of salt
In a small pot bring milk to simmer, add polenta, spices and sweetener , bring to a boil.Turn down heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.Add coconut cream and some more liquid if needed.
For the Topping:
Heat 1 Cup of frozen blueberries with 4 TBS of water in a saucepan.Add 2 TBS liquid sweetener, a good pinch of cardamom and cook on high heat for about 5 minutes until sauce has reduced. Pour over polenta and garnish with chopped pistachios.
Vanilla Chai Couscous Porridge
Yields 2 large bowls
In a small pot heat the followings :
1 cup of water
1 cup of (plant)milk of your choice
1/3 cup of creamy coconutmilk
1 vanilla pod sliced length wise
Add :1 cup of instant couscous
1/2 cup of quick oats
Keep simmering on medium heat for about 10 minutes ,until couscous is soft and texture is still porridge like.Add more liquid if needed.
Add 1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chai powder
Sweeten with as much maple or date syrup as you like.
Almond Quinoa Porridge with roasted Banana and Chocolate Drizzle
Yields 2 bowls
1/2 cup quinoa
2 TBS coconut cream
a pinch of salt
2-3 tbs sweetener of your choice
Heat a pot over medium heat add the quinoa and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, stirring frequently. Pour in the almond milk , water , sweetener and salt. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium to low heat until the porridge is thick and quinoa is soft.This will take about 20 Minutes. Be sure to add more liquid if needed. Stir occasionally, especially at the end, to prevent your porridge from burning.
For the Topping :
Heat 1 TBS of coconut oil in a small pan , slice a Banana lengthwise and fry for 2-3 Minutes on each side, until Banana is Brown and caramelised.
In another saucepan melt 3-4 pieces of dark chocolate in a bit of almond milk.
Drizzle over Porridge and garnish with some cocoa nibs