by Angela Reed-Fox
Porridge is a cheap and versatile breakfast cereal. It's quick to prepare, and it's nutritious, being high in fibre and providing a slow release of energy... and it doesn't have to be boring!
Trial and error will let you know how much of the oats you'll need. Usually between 25-50g. Add milk - either semi-skimmed, or try soya milk or other non-dairy alternatives. (Soya has a higher protein content than other plant-based alternatives). You can either cook for 5 minutes in a sauce pan over a moderate heat, or if you're short on time (or don't like washing pans) chuck all the ingredients into a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes.
Keeping a stash of fruit ready to use in the freezer will prevent you getting bored with the same breakfast every day. Berries, cherries, mint, mango and pineapple all freeze very well. If you use frozen fruit you'll need find you don't waste any - but remember to cook the porridge for around a minute longer if you're using frozen ingredients.
Instead of adding sugar or honey to sweeten, take the opportunity to add one or two portions of fruit instead - here's how:
Mash a banana, and add with a small handful of chopped dates (Medjool dates are particularly tasty) to the oats and milk and cook as usual.
Black Forest Porridge
Take a generous handful of frozen cherries, half a teaspoon of cocoa powder and add to your oats and milk. Microwave for three minutes, or cook in a pan for six minutes (frozen fruits will lengthen the cooking time needed).
Apple strudel Porridge
Chop an apple, add to your oats and milk, sprinkle ground cinnamon, cloves or allspice over, and add a small handful of raisins or sultanas.
Don't like chopping apples? Use half a can of tinned apple (check that it doesn't contain syrup, and make sure it's actual apple, not apple pie filling which contains added sugar).
Peanut brittle Porridge
Add 2 heaped teaspons of crunchy peanut butter, a generous sprinkling of seeds and a small handful of chopped dates (again, Medjool dates are lovely.)
Juicy pear Porridge
Chop one ripe pear, or go for the lazy option and add two tinned pear halves (tinned in juice, not syrup) and a small handful of chopped apricots.
Knickerbocker glory Porridge
Add two large dessertspoons of natural or Greek yogurt (you'll need to add less milk than usual to your mix), one small pot of fruit cocktail (drain it of the juice - don't buy the type in syrup), add strawberries (frozen or fresh) and cherries (frozen are generally already pitted), and a teaspoon of cocoa powder.
Knickerbocker glory Porridge
Add a generous helping of fresh of frozen strawberries and a splash of lemon juice.
Cherry Bakewell Porridge
Add a large handful of pitted cherries (fresh or frozen) and (optional) a large dessertspoon of ground almonds. Top with flaked almonds when cooked.
Add a large handful of raspberries (fresh or frozen), and a large dessert spoon of desiccated coconut, and two dessertspoons of Greek or natural yogurt. You will need to add a little extra milk as the coconut soaks up the fluid. Cook the porridge a minute longer than usual if the fruit is frozen.
A lovely fresh porridge - great for sunny summer days, but when you still want porridge! Zest one lime (this is for the top when it's cooked). Add the juice of the lime and a few torn mint leaves to your oats and milk. Add a couple of dessertspoons of natural or Greek yogurt.
Top with the zest of the lime and a scatter of torn mint leaves.
black and Blue Porridge
A large handful of blueberries (frozen or fresh) added to your oats and milk, and then when cooked, stir through and top with chia seeds.
Banana split Porridge
Mash one banana, add one dessert spoon of crunchy peanut butter and a couple of dessertspoons of natural or Greek yogurt.
Pina Colada Porridge
Either a large portion of fresh pineapple, or use half a can (pinapple in juice, drained - not syrup) of chunks or chopped up slices. Add a large dessert spoon of dessicated coconut and two dessert spoons of natural or Greek yogurt. Add a little more milk than usual as the coconut will soak up some of the fluid.
Seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy, chia seeds are a great topping for porridge, as they provide an interesting texture and depth of flavour. They'll also add some healthy fatty acids to your daily intake. Win/win!