Porridge, with borage honey and apple slices.

 

The winter months are upon us, we savour the daylight hours having taken them for granted in the summer. The clock change for me is the most depressing time of the year, it’s when I finally admit defeat to winter. I know that summer faded a long time ago, but I always try to keep summer going till the nights finally draw in when the clocks change. But it is not all gloom, because on a cold winter morning there is the reassuring comfort and warmth of porridge. But did you know that the humble, modest porridge is doing much more for your body and mind than just warming and filling you up?

Porridge, or oatmeal, really is an incredible super food proven to give us vast positive physical and amazingly even psychological effects. Its widely known that porridge is great at helping you last till lunch, this is because its high dietary fibre means that we can have constant levels of energy throughout the day due to its slow absorption. But porridge could also help you feel less stressed in the run up to Christmas.

The science behind how porridge can help the brain lies with the oats, the carbohydrates found in porridge cause increased levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. This extra serotonin helps with anxiety and stress relief, it can help the body and mind to feel replenished diminishing the effects of nervousness, irrationality and even insomnia. 

Anxiety is a serious condition effecting people of all ages. The Health and Safety Executive estimate that there were a staggering 12.5 million days off of work during the last financial year due to stress, depression and anxiety. With many people not wanting to go down the route of taking medication with its side effects it is worth remembering that food is the original medicine and can profoundly affect how we feel.

I remember my Grandma cooking a big saucepan of thick porridge for me and my brother when we were dropped there before school. The table was always laid the night before with every condiment imaginable lined up before us. As kids we tried everything in our power to top this superfood with so many additions and preserves that it was always less healthy than our Grandmother desired. We learnt from our Grandfather who drowned his porridge in combinations of strawberry jam, Demerara sugar and the special ingredient, honey. However he still seems well on it.

I feel that lots of people tend to steer clear of porridge with vivid flashbacks to sloppy, viscous, and cold gloop at breakfast club in school. I urge you to give porridge a second chance in your kitchen. But if you’re really not a fan of the conventional porridge and honey, here are a few healthy alternatives for you to try, still including honey of course!

 Oatmeal, oats, porridge oats, raw oats, rolled oats, flaked oats

The humble rolled oat

 

Egg & Dairy Free Coconut & Oat Pancakes 

A delightful Sunday morning breakfast. With oats providing protein and fibre, and the coconut yogurt bringing healthy fats and flavour, these pancakes are filling, fluffy, and a breeze to make.

Serves 4 to 6 (makes 12 pancakes)

For the Batter

67g shredded coconut (toast in pan for 2-3 mins before using)
187g plain flour
140g oat flour or old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons honey such as Oxfordshire Honey or Salisbury
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying

335ml cups almond milk (we love the Pressery)

110ml coconut yogurt, homemade or shop-bought (we like the brand Coyo)

For Topping the Pancakes

Extra honey for drizzling on top

Extra coconut yoghurt

Fresh fruit or compote

 

Put aside half of the toasted almonds for topping the pancakes. In a food processor blend the remaining dry ingredients, if you have used rolled oats keep blending until the oats are a finer consistency. Then add the wet ingredients – the oil, honey, coconut yoghurt and almond milk. Blend till there are no lumps in the batter.

Heat and oil your frying pan and get cooking and flipping.

Serve the pancakes with toasted coconut, coconut yoghurt, fruit & a drizzle of Shropshire or Salisbury honey.

The almond milk and coconut milk can be swapped for dairy milk and yoghurt but the coconut flavour will be less pronounced.

 

Natural Oat and Pear Smoothie

If you don’t like pear, use your favourite fruits or even a mix of fruit as a substitute!

1 ripe pear

½ cup of oats

1 cup of water

1 tablespoon of honey

Add the ingredients to your blender and you’re good to go!