World Porridge Day was actually yesterday and while we ate porridge, I didn’t get around to posting about it. However, as cupcakes and chocolate get a whole week in the UK, I figured the humble and nutritious porridge’s day needs to be extended, especially thinking about the reason behind it.
World Porridge Day was started to raise awareness of and money for Mary’s Meals, a Scottish charity feeding starving children in Africa. Mary’s Meals provides daily servings of likuni phala, a nutritious, vitamin-enriched maize porridge to more than half a million children in 16 of the poorest countries in the world. But they don’t just give them nourishment. The porridge is served in schools, encouraging children to go and learn. Each child also has the responsibility of looking after their plastic mug which is filled with porridge. By serving one simple meal, Mary’s Meals is doing a lot more than just filling bellies.
Mary’s Meals are also an amazingly efficient charity. How much do you think it costs to feed a child porridge for a whole year? How much do you think you spend on your family breakfasts over a year?
It costs just £6.15 (about €7.20 or $10) to feed a child for a year.
Less than £7 for a whole year!
I’ll let you absorb that fact while I move on to some porridge flavours and variations your munchkins (and you) might like. I’ll leave you to cook your porridge the way you prefer (I like the microwave to avoid having pots to clean) as I’m certainly not a porridge-cooking expert!
PORRIDGE FLAVOURS AND VARIATIONS
While traditionally porridge is made from oats, water and salt, I always use milk for its calcium content and some kind of sweetener, usually fruit or a little bit of honey (for when babies are more than a year old).
To make a smoother porridge, more palatable for babies, either grind up the oats before cooking, or blend your finished porridge until it’s smooth enough.
Another way of softening the oats is to soak them in some of the cooking liquid overnight.
Start with adding one simple flavour your baby is already used to, like banana. Once you think your munchkin is ready for some more complex flavours, add some warm spice like cinnamon or a dash of vanilla for extra sweetness or start combining flavours.
The easiest and healthiest flavour to add to porridge for little ones is fruit, and then there’s no reason to add any sugar. Add it fresh or frozen. Mixing through frozen fruit has the advantage of cooling the porridge down (very important when your toddler is being impatient!). Here are some of our favourites.
- Banana and cinnamon
Mash some banana through cooked porridge and add a dash of cinnamon (which helps stimulate your metabolism)
- Apple, raisin and nutmeg
You can use raw apple (finely grated) or cooked apple (apple puree or unsweetened applesauce/stewed apple). Add raisins (soak them overnight if you want them to be plumper and less chewy) and a small pinch of nutmeg. You could also add some chopped dried apple.
- Strawberry and vanilla
Mix chopped strawberries (fresh or frozen) through cooked porridge and add a dash of vanilla.
- Stewed fruit
Any cooked fruit works great swirled through cooked porridge (peaches, plums, apricots, strawberries). I don’t add sugar while stewing the fruit, but check the taste of the porridge adding some vanilla for sweetness or honey. A small pinch of ground ginger also works well.
- Pears and vanilla
A lovely ripe uncooked pear mashes very easily into cooked porridge. Add a dash of vanilla.
Porridge in a hurry:
For mornings when you need to get ready fast, what takes even less time than mashing some fruit into cooked yogurt?
- Fruit yogurt
Stirring through some fruit yogurt also cools the porridge down (saves you blowing time!).
- Fruit puree
Any packaged fruit purees or purees you’ve made yourself mix through quickly.
Adult flavour combinations (or not so healthy additions):
Some mornings you just need a little indulgence to start the day happily.
- Grated chocolate
Any chocolate you have on hand grated over cooked porridge.
- Chocolate spread
Add some mashed banana as well to feel healthier.
- Golden syrup and cream
Maple syrup works just as well.
- Jam and cream
Who needs scones.
- Chocolate-covered Katie’s Coffee Frappuccino Oatmeal
Haven’t tried it, but it’s your morning coffee and breakfast all-in-one!
Once you’ve added your flavourings, why not also sprinkle or dollop something on top?
Pumpkin, sesame, flax/linseed, sunflower seeds, etc. For toddlers, grind up larger seeds and/or soak them overnight.
Shredded or desiccated.
Fruit or plain.
- Dried fruit
Sultanas, raisins, cherries, apples, pineapple, mango, etc. Chop larger pieces up. Soak overnight for softer fruit.
- Fresh fruit
Slices of banana, strawberries, pear or whole blueberries are yummy.
You can use other liquids to soak and/or cook your oats.
Fresh apple and orange juice add another level of flavour to your porridge.
- Coconut milk
Feel like you’re in the tropics!
If you’re sick of the same old flavours, why not add something daring to your oats?
What do you like to add to your or your munchkin’s porridge? What do you do if you have porridge leftovers?
I hope I’ve given you some ideas to vary your bowls of porridge. But also remember how porridge is changing the lives of children in Africa thanks to Mary’s Meals, and how little you would need to donate to feed a child for a whole year.