Porridge, often also referred to as oatmeal, is one of the most common international breakfast specialties. Long frowned upon as bland and one-dimensional food, the culinary present proves how healthy, versatile, and delicious the popular porridge can be. But what makes this specialty so special – and what distinguishes a good oat porridge from a bad one?
What is porridge?
The specialty is traditionally made from rolled oats and water or milk. Depending on the recipe, the oat flakes are cooked with water, milk, or alternatively a mixture of milk and water. The recipe can be refined with other ingredients depending on your preferences. For example, the food allows you to stir in honey or sugar, or use nuts or fruit as a topping. In this way, the traditional porridge made from oats can be adapted to a wide variety of eating habits and tastes.
Where does the breakfast dish come from?
In Great Britain, there is a long breakfast tradition that relies on porridge variants. Only in recent years has the dish been rediscovered in Germany as a healthy alternative to cornflakes and other breakfast mueslis. The porridge also has a long tradition in German food history.
Variants of the dish have been around for thousands of years. Cooked cereals are said to have been served over 10,000 years ago, and a type of rice porridge was cooked in ancient China around 4,500 years ago. In the Middle Ages and modern times, oat porridge developed in Europe as food for the poorer classes, as it was based on few and easily available ingredients.
As early as the 16th century, German doctors were arguing about the benefits of oatmeal, which was common in southern Germany, for example. Only in recent years has porridge been able to shed its reputation as food for poor people: This is not only due to its healthy ingredients, but also its culinary flexibility through the addition of a wide variety of ingredients.
What variations of the specialty are there?
Since the specialty can be prepared with both milk and water, the dish is also suitable for a vegan diet. In this case, for example, plant milk such as almond milk can also be used. Different types of oat flakes can also be used: Those who prefer something firmer to the bite can use the hearty oat flakes, and those who prefer their porridge to be creamy can use the tender flakes. And these are just variations on the simple basic recipe.
If you want to refine the dish, you can use a wide variety of toppings with oatmeal – as it is called in America – so that your porridge can cover all preferences from sweet to savory: whether chia seeds, fresh fruit, ground nuts, sweetened with nut butter or with Cinnamon and sugar alternatives refined – your creativity is only limited by your taste.
Why you should choose the popular oatmeal
Especially for breakfast, porridge made from oats has several advantages. First of all, it is comparatively quick and easy to prepare – even under time pressure, the porridge can be prepared with little effort. At the same time, there is a reason why porridge was once considered a food for the poorer classes: a good porridge is not expensive.
But the key to its culinary elegance lies in the fact that oatmeal is not only comparatively healthy and versatile thanks to the numerous possible ingredients, but also easily satisfies hunger until lunchtime. Real satiation!
Health benefits of food
The feeling of satiety occurs quickly because it is very rich thanks to its ingredients and the oatmeal swells. At the same time, it provides important fiber and vitamins to start the day strong. And as a source of protein, it should not be underestimated. Fruity toppings with lots of vitamins can also make them even healthier and tastier than they already are.
What nutrients are included?
The classic basic recipe of the dish made from oats provides important nutrients for the daily requirement. This includes multi-chain or complex carbohydrates for energy requirements as well as a lot of dietary fiber. These nutrients are supplemented by proteins, which are not only important for health but also ensure a good feeling of satiety.
The porridge provides vitamins thanks to its oats, which contain vitamin B1, for example. At the same time, food is considered an important supplier of magnesium and iron. One of the beneficial properties of the porridge is that its calorie count can be optimized: while the version with milk provides additional protein, the porridge alternative with water has a reduced calorie content.
The nutritional values of oatmeal
The nutritional values of a porridge depend on various factors: Is the porridge made with water or milk? Which toppings are used? Is sugar even used? An important point of reference is the nutritional value of the oatmeal itself.
A porridge consists of about 40 to 50 g of oat flakes per serving. 40 grams of rolled oats contain the following nutrients:
- 7.8 micrograms of biotin (25 percent of the daily requirement), a nutrient that – together with zinc – ensures beautiful hair, healthy skin, and strong nails.
- 1.7 mg zinc (same as would be in the same amount of a steak)
- 0.3 mg vitamin B1 (25 percent of the daily requirement, with oats being the grain richest in vitamin B1. Together with vitamin B6, B1 takes care of healthy nerves and restful sleep.
- 0.4 mg of vitamin B6 (twice as much as in other grains) for healthy nerves, nightmare-free sleep, and healthy blood.
- 2.4 mg iron against anemia and for a good immune system
- 60 mg magnesium for strong nerves, muscles, bones, and a healthy cardiovascular system
- 4.4 mg of silicon to eliminate aluminum, but also for healthy bones, connective tissue, and joints.
- 2 to 4 g fiber, which ensures good digestion, healthy blood fat and cholesterol levels
Then there is the nutritional value of the other ingredients of a porridge, e.g. B. the nuts, seeds, fruits, or soy milk (in which you cook the oatmeal).
Porridge toppings and their benefits
With the right ingredients (e.g. fruit, berries), the porridge recipe can combine other positive, healthy properties. Why not enjoy your porridge with a handful of blueberries? They not only ensure an extraordinary taste experience but also provide additional vitamin C, potassium, zinc, and other important nutrients. A taste alternative is nuts, which also contain important vitamins and are also very filling.
What is to be observed?
As with almost all foods, porridge is not just porridge. There are numerous instant porridges on the market, a kind of fast-food version of the porridge. It is not uncommon for additional ingredients to be used here – including sugar and co.
If you want to be on the safe side, you can easily make the popular dish yourself using milk or water and oatmeal. You also retain control over the ingredients: Why not use high-quality organic oat flakes and as few processed ingredients as possible in the sense of whole foods? Because the same applies here: Freshly made porridge usually tastes better than cheap ready-made versions.
Preparation: Enjoy the porridge warm or cold
The classic British porridge is served warm. In any case, it is recommended to warm it up or boil it up during preparation so that the oat flakes can swell as intended – and the desired feeling of satiety occurs more quickly.
After being prepared warm, the meal can also be enjoyed cold despite the traditionally warm presentation. So it’s not untypical to prepare the porridge the night before a stressful day and keep it in the fridge for breakfast.