Healthy but indulgent, delightful and good for me, thick oat porridge topped with creme fraiche and a trickle of honey is my all-time favourite breakfast.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
In the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears an obnoxious little girl called Goldilocks sneaks, uninvited, into the Three Bears’ house. She steals their food, wreaks havoc in their furniture to finally pass out in one of their beds.
Some versions of the story feature and old witch instead of a little girl, to better emphasise the hideous crime of breaking, entering, ransacking and trespass.
I, as a child, thought totally otherwise. I truly believed Goldilocks did the Little Bear a huge favour by eating his porridge – so he didn’t have to.
In my books porridge was punishment food, and I didn’t get to eat it often because my parents weren't so cruel.
I considered myself lucky never to have gone to a boarding school as I had visions of porridge served there for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It was high up in my top ten most detested breakfast foods. Greyish-beige gruel with bits of husk in the glutinous goo, the type of thing that swells up in your mouth as you try to eat it and won't go down.
The sort of dish you spend what seems like hours over at the breakfast table and feel the world doesn't know bigger misery than yours. The kind of food that is cooked up purely to torture little kids.
Let me make it clear: it was nothing to do with dairy. Unlike a lot of kids I actually rather liked rice pudding, semolina and other milky concoctions. But porridge was the horrorshow.
And then some time in the Noughties, with the onset of various wellness trends we realised we should all eat more fibre. Porridge, welcome back, all is forgiven. And I actually love it.
Maybe they grow different type of oats now. Or perhaps they changed the way it gets processed so the horrible husks are removed.
Anyway, I had actually re-discovered it before the world did, when I got bored of eating muesli and decided to cook it for my breakfast.
Later on, I found I could use either jumbo rolled or pinhead oats, and that with a few raisins, a dollop of yoghurt and plenty of honey it makes quite a delightful breakfast.
Of course, it's been hijacked by the wellness brigade who swapped oats for amaranth or quinoa (no thanks). I have also tried making porridge with millet and semolina, with good results, but the proper stuff is always and only oats.
So good and so easy
Porridge is cooked and cooked breakfast always keeps you full for longer. Oats are fibre, with low glycaemic index thus making it a slow burner: have your bowl at breakfast and sometimes it may last you until the evening meal if it needs to, and if you're disciplined enough.
It takes me no time at all to make my porridge in the morning. If you soak the oats with milk in a small saucepan the night before, adding a few raisins, cranberries or any dried fruit of your choice, and keep it overnight in the fridge, it takes three minutes to cook.
I like it thick rather than soupy so my proportions are 50g oats to 150ml milk. If you like it runny, increase the milk amount to 200ml.
And my favourite topping is a spoonful of crème fraiche and a good drizzle of honey. Breakfast bliss!
If you want to boost the fibre experience, see if you can source pinhead (a.k.a. steel cut) oats instead of jumbo rolled. They need cooking a little longer, over low heat, and they have gorgeous nutty flavour.
Using coconut milk instead of cow’s milk makes it a completely different experience. Instead of dried fruit, use fresh berries when in season and add them to cooked porridge.
Instead of crème fraiche you might want to add Greek yoghurt, labneh or Skyr.
And if honey isn’t your flavour, add a trickle of maple syrup, date syrup, coconut blossom syrup or simply a good pinch of brown sugar.
More oat recipes
Healthy baked oatmeal, made with oats and buttermilk, with a lick of your favourite jam at the bottom of the dish, is a gorgeous breakfast.
Lemon and blueberry flapjacks, easy to make and much healthier than off-the-shelf bars, naturally flavoured with lemon juice and zest, with freeze-dried blueberries.
Seeded oatcakes with poppy and sesame, my copy of Nairn’s rough oatcakes. Warning: try them with butter and jam at the risk of addiction!
More healthy breakfast recipes
Couscous for breakfast? But of course. Couscous with raisins, yoghurt and honey is an excellent breakfast idea.
Homemade granola, easy and healthy with just the fruit and seed mix you like; only waiting for milk, yoghurt or fresh fruit.
Toasted crunchy oats with summer fruit compote, perfect for a healthy breakfast. That’s also how to use a glut of fruit and berries: make a low sugar compote in 10 minutes.