The temperature is plunging so it’s time to bowl up some of five-grain porridge and you don’t need a saucepan and spurtle. (*)
My five-grain porridge is a delicious and nutritious blend combining the traditional porridge grain – rolled oats, with the heirloom varieties spelt and rye, triticale and barley. All of these grains are Australian grown. It has a nutty taste and texture certain to excite taste buds and energise bodies.
And costing just 75 cents and only 180 calories (656 kj) per serve, it’s perfect for the hips and hip pocket. (That’s cheaper than a multinational’s meal deal and ¼ of the calories.)
The golden haired girl and her three hirsute friends were certainly onto a good thing because porridge is low GI; high fibre (which helps to regular appetite and cravings especially in the cooler months) and an excellent source of complex carbohydrates. Porridge can also help to reduce cholesterol and increase sex drive.
National Porridge Day on Friday 1 June (the first day of winter) is a great opportunity to give porridge a second chance if you were sworn off it as a kid. We have many grandmothers and mothers to forgive for the crimes they committed against the gorgeous grain. Why not head out to one of Melbourne’s fabulous cafes and restaurants serving up porridge a myriad of ways, or give it a go from the comfort of your own home.
My secret for the best porridge is to leave the saucepan in the pot drawer.
Pour ½ cup of boiling water onto ½ cup porridge in a bowl. Cover with cling wrap or a saucer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile have a shower and get dressed by which time the grains have softened sufficiently to enjoy. Add some currants, slice banana, pistachio nuts, a sprinkling of cardamom and a drizzle of honey for the perfect way to start your day. More serving suggestions below.
(*) Spurtle or spirtle is the traditional Scottish stirring implement to make porridge dating back to the fifteenth century. The rod-like shape is designed to prevent the porridge from becoming lumpy.
Why my porridge has five grains
Well it tastes great, but it each of the five different grains have their own nutritional benefits (and these heirloom varieties contribute to agricultural biodiversity in Australia. All of these grains are grown in Australia.)
Spelt contains more protein, fats and fibre and other grains and has large amounts of Vitamin B 17. It is also a good source of carbohydrates which assist in blood clotting and stimulate the body’s immune systems so as to increase resistance to infection.
Rye also contains approximately 15 g of protein per 100g. Rye, triticale, and barley have less than 3 g of fat per 100g, making them naturally low in fat.
Rolled Oats contain Vitamin B, some Vitamin E, as well as calcium, potassium and magnesium.
How to Eat Porridge
Simple: a moat of cold or warm milk (dairy, soy, rice, oat).
Rush: for those in a rush or want a rush pour an espresso or ½ cappuccino over the grains!
Easy: a few sultanas and a sprinkling of nutmeg.
Traditional: sliced banana, a sprinkling of cinnamon and a teaspoon of brown sugar.
Crunchy: slivered almonds, a freshly grated Granny Smith apple and a few currants for sweetness
Sweet: a wedge of honeycomb stuck in the middle can BEE a cute way of serving porridge to overnight guests.
Warming: a few pistachios with a sprinkling of cardamom and a drizzle of honey (or apple concentrate or rice syrup)
Luscious: a few pecans and some chopped dates.
Tropical: some freshly grated ginger, shredded coconut, macadamias and honey makes you feel like you are in paradise.
Protein Punch: a beaten egg (stirred through one minute before the end of stovetop cooking) is especially good after a workout.
Healthy: any warm stewed fruit – especially rhubarb, plums or apple is delicious dolloped on top.
Decadent: for something a little bit naughty… grate some chocolate on top and watch it melt into the grains; for something that is naughty but nice… stir through a few buds of chocolate…for something really really naughty bury a Ferrero Rocher in the porridge and watch your family and friends’ faces light up when they find their sunken treasure.
How to cook porridge
Every one likes their porridge their way – just ask the Three Bears or Goldilocks. Some love it so thick the spoon stands unaided in the middle of the mixture. Others prefer a smoother start to the day. A recommended serve is ½ cup or 50 grams of dry mixture however this amount can be adjusted according to your own needs.
Recipes are for 1 serve.
1. Quick Sticks Porridge aka “Look Mum, No Pans!”
Place ½ cup (50 g) mixture into a small bowl.
Add ½ cup of boiling water.
Cover with cling film and set aside for five to ten minutes.
The nutty taste and texture means this porridge is delicious straight up however it goes fabulously well with some extras added to it.
If you like your porridge piping hot, here’s how to achieve that result.
2. Thick and grainy porridge
Place ½ cup (50 g) of grains and 1 cup of boiling water in a saucepan and stand for 10 minutes (while this is happening have a shower and make the bed)
Over a medium heat, stir mixture for 2 minutes.
3. Smooth and creamy porridge
Soak ½ cup (50 g) of grains in 1 cup cold water overnight.
Next day, add another cup of water (or for a creamier taste use milk) and over a medium heat, cook for 5 – 10 minutes or until you reach the desired consistency. You might like to add more water or some milk.
4. Microwave instructions
For one serve.
Use: 1 litre container
Into it put:
- ½ cup Flip Shelton’s five-grain porridge
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup full cream milk
Place lid on loosely – allowing steam to escape.
Microwave on 50% power for 3 minutes.
Stand 2-3 mins for all liquid to be absorbed.
It will be thick but not gluggy without any liquid.
Stir and transfer to a warmed bowl.
Add your favourite bits.
Porridge – fact or fiction?
1. Porridge is associated with the devil – there was a belief that porridge should only be stirred in a clockwise direction using your right hand so you didn’t evoke the ‘devil’.
2. Porridge is referred to in the Testament.
3. Dr Samuel Johnson’s 18th Century dictionary definition of oats read “a grain which in England is given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.”
4. Oats were cooked and poured into a drawer and allowed to set. The solid oat slab (perhaps the earliest incarnations of oat biscuits or muesli slice) were then sliced and taken to work to be eaten through the day.
5. Wild strains of oats date back to about 1000 BC in Europe. The Greeks and Romans found the oat grains coarse and inedible and dubbed it ‘barbarian’s food’ and fed it to their animals.
6. Porridge became immortalized by English poet Robert Southey’s 1837 prose of “The Story of the Three Bears” which was later published in 1904 as “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” – one of the most enduring stories.
8. Spelt is was widely cultivated in ancient civilizations, however it lost favour in the 19th century when wheat was introduced because this was easier to harvest. In the mid-1980’s Spelt was rediscovered in Europe and in 1988, a farming couple from NSW bought 50 seeds from a European seed bank. After four years of harvesting their ‘crop’ with a pair of scissors (*), these passionate farmers were able to build up the seed stock and that’s why we can enjoy Australian-grown Spelt today. Spelt is a low yielding crop which means it doesn’t take much from the soil making it more sustainable in the long term.
(*) A special machine has now been developed, which can de-hull individual spelt grains making their job easier!