Freshly cut apple and nuts work great in a bowl of porridge.
Freshly cut apple and nuts work great in a bowl of porridge.

Porridge is hip. It’s an ugly duckling situation when you think about it — what used to be considered slimy, cooked-down oats that had to be choked down is now cool, due mainly to Instagram.

“I can imagine that social media especially helped make porridge become so popular,” says Larissa Haesler, a nutrition researcher from Germany. She’s referring to the thousands of artfully decorated bowls of porridge that have taken over the image-driven social network.

But porridge can do more than just look good: It’s also a great way to start your day, says Kerstin Niehoff, a food photographer and cookbook author from southern Germany. “It’s a comforting, warming breakfast that doesn’t overwhelm the stomach,” she swoons.

The complex carbohydrates found in oatmeal keep you feeling full for a long time. The oats are also a good source in protein, with about 10 grams of the stuff for every 100 grams. “In addition, oatmeal has B vitamins, which are good for the nerves and metabolism, as well as biotin. That’s considered a beauty vitamin and supports strong nails and hair,” according to German nutrition expert Inga Pfannebecker.

Making porridge at home is simple: Allow the oats to soak in liquid, then bring to a boil and add your toppings – done. It’s essential to have a good ration of liquid to oats though. Haesler recommends half a cup of oats to one-and-a-half cups liquid. After putting both basic ingredients in the pot, a little patience is necessary: “You shouldn’t cook the porridge too quickly — the oats need several minutes to absorb the liquid,” says Haesler. If the porridge still ends up being too stiff, adding a little water or milk can help.

If you’ve had enough of oats, you can try replacing them with quinoa in your porridge.
Strawberries add a hint of colour to this lemon-infused porridge.

Porridge also doesn’t have to always be just oats and milk: For example, instead of oatmeal, you could use spelt, rye or rice. And it’s easy to swap out your milk or water for whatever liquid floats your boat. Pfannebecker, for example, likes to mix milk and water.   

For a little sweetness in the porridge, you can use sugar, honey, agave syrup or fruit – it doesn’t matter whether it’s pears, bananas or berries. “But remember, porridge doesn’t always have to be a sweet dish,” says Pfannebecker. “Because porridge has a neutral taste, it’s also easy to make it savoury — maybe some roasted vegetables, avocado slices or a fried egg.” In that case, broth may be better than milk.

But what do you do if you’re short on time in the morning and don’t have time to whip up some porridge? Pfannebecker has no sympathy: Simply make a big batch in advance. It will keep in the fridge for two to three days, and can be easily reheated on the stovetop. – dpa