April 16, 2015
Healthy recipes: Porridge
With summer fast approaching, there are only a few months to go before you can achieve the perfect beach body. This means you need to start making healthy food choices and switching up your diet to incorporate more of the nutrients your body needs.
As the saying goes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it's common for people to skip this and hold out until lunchtime. Having a healthy, nutritious breakfast sets you up for the rest of the day, providing you with energy that leads to increased concentration and productivity levels.
Porridge is a healthy and popular breakfast choice. It contains a high amount of phosphorus that helps muscles to recover after intense exercise, while the high iron content helps red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body.
You may think that eating porridge on its own is rather bland and boring, but in fact, there are many ways in which you can spruce up your oats. Adding a range of toppings to your porridge will add more flavour, making your meal more exciting and delicious.
There is a whole host of ingredients you can add to your porridge. Why not try some of these?
Sprinkling your oats with dried apricots and almonds, and finishing off with a drizzle of honey is a great way to add sweetness, while incorporating healthy goodness.
Apricots are a good source of vitamin A and dietary fibre. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin, while consuming foods high in dietary fibre is helpful in supporting digestive health.
Adding nuts to your porridge will give a nice, crunchy texture, as well as provide plenty of nutrients. Almonds contain riboflavin that helps to boost brain activity. What's more, a study conducted by researchers from Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago and Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found that eating a Mediterranean diet rich in nuts helps to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
While you might associate honey with unhealthy desserts, its nutritional content actually brings a whole host of benefits. Honey contains antioxidants that can help to prevent certain cancers, while studies reported by the US National Honey Board have shown it can help to enhance athletic performance by maintaining glycogen levels and improving recovery time.
If eating chocolate is your guilty pleasure, you'll be delighted to discover that dark chocolate works as a delicious porridge topping.
When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate is highly nutritious and contains antioxidants that can help to lower the risk of heart disease. Simply grate a couple pieces of dark chocolate – the higher the percentage of cocoa solids the better – over your oats to add richness.
Finish with a sprinkle of desiccated coconut, which contains minerals to keep skin, bones and teeth strong.
If you don't want to overpower your porridge, but want to add a subtle hint of flavour, banana and cinnamon are a great choice.
Bananas are rich in pectin and fibre, which can aid digestion and normalise bowel motility. Slice half or a whole banana over your porridge and finish with a pinch of ground cinnamon. Be careful not to add too much, as the rich flavour can be slightly overwhelming.
A study published in the Annals of Family Medicine surrounding cinnamon spice found that its consumption helps to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Strawberries, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries and figs make sweet and tasty porridge toppings.
The nutrients found in berries help to boost brain activity and heart health. What's more, they are high in fibre, which works to keep us fuller for longer, helping to aid weight control.
Likewise, figs are a good source of soluble fibre, minerals and vitamins that contribute to health and wellness. Chopping two or three figs into your porridge will add a soft, sweet texture.