Please Say Please to Porridge!

oatmeal porridge in ceramic bowl with fresh ripe berries

Porridge can be a bit like Marmite - you either love it or you completely body swerve it! There are even a few Scots who won't give it the time of day (shock horror!) BUT as the mornings get darker and colder, you might want to give it a go!

There are dear alone knows how many ways to make it (rough oats, fine oats, with salt or without, do you really need a spurtle and should you always stir the porridge clockwise - more on that later - do you serve it thick so you can cut it into slices or should you have a thick soupy-like texture?) There are definitely more questions than answers!

So... let me simply direct you right now to Rude Health's 2017 Porridge Championship results on their website - this is the 5th year they have held this fiercely-fought spurtle battle and I think you will see that there is nothing pedestrian or lacking in flair about the fabulous porridge-style dishes you can create with the cheap and cheerful oat! I think this image says it all - concentration or what, young man!

And continuing down the porridge road, in his usual crazily-enthusiastic but always seriously-doable way, Jamie Oliver devotes one of his Food Tube videos to How to Make Porridge 5 Ways which, if you are a 'porridge virgin', I recommend you have a look at and/or if you just know that there is rarely or never going to be time to get the spurtle out first thing in the morning, try my Overnight Porridge Recipe - all the goodness but it can be heated up super-fast and simply topped with whatever fruit is in the bowl, a drizzle of honey (or double cream), a handful of fresh nuts and seeds and a shake of cinnamon or nutmeg powder. And whether you have a spurtle or not, remember to stir the porridge clockwise - Scots legend has it that anti-clockwise stirs up the devil - not worth the risk, I say!

Fiona Kirk Overnight Porridge Recipe.jpeg

Oh and by the way, on the 'good for you front': Oats contain protein, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, Vitamin E and Vitamin B and have no sodium. In addition, they contain large amounts of soluble fibre including beta-glucans, which can help the stomach feel fuller for longer, help to suppress hunger and prevent snacking and are known to lower cholesterol.

Go on, give it a try, join me for a wonderfully-warming breakfast of porridge and let me know when you find the combination that seriously works for you!

For the Love of Our Home-Grown Berries!

Huge thanks to Food52 for pointing out that this week is Blueberry Week and providing a fabulous selection of recipes that champion these little dark balls of deliciousness and greatness! If you don't already subscribe to the Food52 newsletters, I urge you to do so now - it's inspirational!

chocolate dipped strawberries

However, if you live 'this side of the pond' I urge you to celebrate the incredible wealth of home-grown berries that are crowding our shelves right now - particularly strawberries, raspberries and blackberries (or brambles as we call them in Scotland).

Blueberries have 'bagged' a superfood spot - they are low in calories, high in fibre, chock full of immune-boosting vitamin C, offer good levels of bone-building vitamin K and are believed to contain the highest, health-protective antioxidant capacity of all commonly-consumed fruits and vegetables BUT how often do you find 'locally-grown' blueberries on your supermarket shelf? In my experience, occasionally, but not often, WHEREAS just yesterday, the minute I walked into my 'local', I was greeted by an overwhelming, almost 'jammy' and extremely enticing aroma of strawberries, grown only around 50 miles from my city dwelling so there was no competition - the strawberries won hands down for tomorrow's breakfast! Furthermore, the strawberries were around £5 per kg and the blueberries were around £11 per kg - not a difficult decision! 

I read somewhere that not only has the European love affair with blueberries come as a direct result of health reports hailing them as one of the world's most beneficial superfoods but also that we appear to be more than happy to gorge on them because unlike strawberries, they don't require any work - you have to 'hull' a strawberry and that seems to be too big a task for some - what?? 

Just so you know... strawberries, raspberries and blackberries all offer more vitamin C than blueberries and when in season and locally-grown, pack a health-protective punch not too far behind blueberries (particularly those poor little mites that have had to travel a good many miles over a number of days to get onto our shelves)! 

Bag your home-grown berries while you can - the season is short. Have them early doors with creamy-smooth yoghurt and a handful of nuts and seeds, top a couple of crisp breads with nut butter, berries and black pepper or add them to salads for lunch, whizz them up into a smoothie with a dollop of delectable crème fraîche or have them on their own when you need a little sweetness in your world mid morning or mid afternoon or make a spicy berry sauce and serve it with meat or game for dinner (delicious) or when nothing else will do... dip them in melted, deepest, darkest chocolate and tell yourself you are benefitting from even more superfood superiority! 

Going Bananas!

It’s certainly not news that high blood pressure and a deficiency of the mineral, potassium are linked (or perhaps more often recorded is too much sodium and not enough potassium) so it’s vital that our diet includes plenty of potassium-rich foods to get the balance right.  Many people immediately think bananas when they think potassium, but you would have to eat a lot of bananas in a day (around 9!) to get close to the recommended daily dose. 30g of leafy green vegetables (particularly swiss chard, spinach and bok choy) provide around twice the amount of potassium so in addition to the occasional banana which makes a filling and splendidly-portable snack (the greener the better to get plenty of gut-friendly resistant starch as long as you chew them really well), go leafy daily!