You already know the importance of eating breakfast each morning (to break your ‘fast’, kick-start your metabolism, and prevent over-eating throughout the day) and porridge or oatmeal is an all-time and on-trend favourite at the moment. There’s plain; multi-flavoured, oats with chia and other seeds, as well as umpteen instant varieties to choose from – but beware not oatmeal is created equal!
Most nutritionists and dieticians recommend steel-cut oats and rolled or old-fashioned slow-cooking oats, rather than the more highly processed instant varieties. The former have been minimally processed and will help keep blood sugar levels steady, minimising cravings. Plus studies have linked eating whole grains to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. They also recommend that you choose a variety that has at least 3 grams of fibre and no more than 2 g of sugar per serving.
These varieties often take longer to cook but you can speed this along if you soak your oats overnight; use a slow cooker and cook the porridge overnight; use a microwave to cook; or prepare a few days ahead of time and refrigerate (for up to 5 days) and then reheat with a little milk until hot.
Make the basic with water, milk (of your own choice) or half and half. Basic porridge for 1 is made with 40 g/US 1/2 cup porridge oats and 275 ml/ generous US 1 cup semi-skimmed milk. Bring to a gentle simmer in a heavy-based pan, stirring frequently, and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until thick and creamy. Alternatively, place in a large jug and microwave on FULL POWER for 31/2 minutes. Make sure your jug is large enough for the porridge/oatmeal to cook to a high height and not spill over.
Stats for basic porridge are: CALORIES PER PORTION: 275 WLS PORTION: 1/2 PROTEIN: 13.6 g CARBOHYDRATE: 37.8 g FAT: 7.8 g If you wish to reduce the fat content then use skimmed milk or half milk and half water.
This is when the fun then really begins because you can add any number of spices and toppings to ring the changes. This is when oats or porridge become bespoke or ‘oat couture’! Here are some ideas to get you started:
Apple, Cinnamon and Pecan Oatmeal/Porridge (in the pic above):
Make regular porridge adding a pinch of ground cinnamon. When cooked, stir in 1/2 grated or chopped dessert apple (I used a Pink Lady variety). Use peeled and grated for a soft texture or unpeeled chopped for more texture, according to stage of post-op eating). Spoon into a bowl and scatter with 1-2 chopped pecans and drizzled with a little agave nectar or other natural liquid sweetener if liked and tolerated.
CALORIES PER PORTION: 346 WLS PORTION: 1/2 PROTEIN: 14.5 g CARBOHYDRATE: 45 g FAT: 12.1 g
Oatmeal/Porridge with Mango and Blueberries:
Make regular porridge and spoon into a bowl. Top with 2 tbsp fat-free Greek yogurt, 2-3 slices fresh mango and a few blueberries. Scatter with 1-2 chopped walnuts to serve.
CALORIES PER PORTION: 340 WLS PORTION: 1/2 PROTEIN: 19.2 g CARBOHYDRATE: 48.6 g FAT: 8.1 g
Oatmeal/Porridge with Cherries, Seeds and Nuts:
Make regular porridge and spoon into a bowl. Top with 2 tsp chopped nut and seed mixture and 2 quartered fresh cherries to serve.
CALORIES PER PORTION: 342 WLS PORTION: 1/2 PROTEIN: 16.5 g CARBOHYDRATE: 40.6 g FAT: 12.8 g
Oatmeal/Porridge with Warmed Berries and Currants:
Make regular porridge and spoon into a bowl. Warm 50 g/scant 1/2 cup mixed berries or defrosted frozen summer or orchard fruits (raspberries, sliced strawberries and redcurrants for example) in a small pan until the juices just start to run. Spoon over the porridge to serve.
CALORIES PER PORTION: 290 WLS PORTION: 1/2 PROTEIN: 14.1 g CARBOHYDRATE: 40.5 g FAT: 7.9 g
Oatmeal/Porridge with Banana, Pecan and Chocolate:
Make regular porridge and spoon into a bowl. Top with half a medium sliced banana, 3 pecans and 2 tsp of sugar-free chocolate syrup – I used Choc Shot from Sweet Freedom. Serve at once.
CALORIES PER PORTION: 392 WLS PORTION: 1/2 PROTEIN: 15.2 g CARBOHYDRATE: 54.3 g FAT: 12.6g
Of course not everyone has the time to cook oatmeal/porridge first thing in the morning. For those who haven’t why not make your oatmeal/porridge overnight and have it chilled the next morning? All you need are oats, yogurt, a tight-fitting lidded container and some desired stir-ins. The ones below are made with a 150 g/5.3 oz carton low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt (I used Yoplait) and 1/4 cup or 20 g old-fashioned oats. I also added 1 tsp chia seeds for a healthy boost. Add your desired stir-ins such as blueberries,bananas, blackberries, assorted nuts, pomegranate or honey (if you can tolerate it). Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours but no longer than 3 days before serving. Nutritional stats are for the oatmeal/porridge without the stir-ins.
CALORIES PER POT: 146 WLS PORTION: 3/4-1 PROTEIN: 8.4 g CARBOHYDRATE: 18.2 g FAT: 3.2 g