Porridge is a breakfast staple; it’s reliable, relatively quick to make, and there are endless combinations of flavours to try if you get creative. If you’re feeling stressed or low, porridge is also one of the most effective ways to help boost your mood, and stabilise emotions throughout the day. Eat porridge in Winter when levels of sunshine are low and the ‘Winter Blues’ kick in. Interestingly, porridge is also a well known way to help keep the ‘Baby Blues’ at bay. This porridge is served raw, meaning every nutrient remains intact and ready to fill you with goodness.
Keep calm and carb-up
Carbohydrates are controversial so say the least….
In the 80s and early 90s fat was seen as the enemy and the cause of disease and unhealthy cholesterol levels, however since TIME magazine published their infamous anti-fat cover in 1984, things have changed quite a lot…. Fast forward to 1999 and TIME magazine published a similar cover letting us all know it was ok to eat fat again. By the time we reach 2014, it’s carbohydrates that we’re being told to avoid, and fat is back on the menu in a huge way.
The thing is, carbohydrates and fats are both very good things to consume, it’s just the type of carbs and fats we consume that make a very big difference to whether they’re good for us or not.
Refined carbohydrates: Found in flour, syrups, sugar, concentrated fruit juices, cereals, refined starch, and anything ‘instant’. These ingredients are added to most processed foods. They spike blood sugar levels (causing a ‘crash’ in energy a few hours later), contribute to fat storage in the body, causing weight gain, and they basically inject a load of unnatural toxins into the body, which then causes the body to work over-time to try and remove them.
Complex Carbohydrates: Found in peas, beans, wholegrains like oats and rye, vegetables, and natural fruits. These types of carbohydrates provide fiber (essential for healthy digestion), energy, aid in regulating sleep patterns, keep us feeling full, and help the nervous system to function properly.
Processed and saturated fats: Meats like fatty beef, lamb, chicken (with skin on), pork, and dairy products like cream, milk, cheese and ice cream are all sources of saturated fat. This is the kind of fat that contributes to clogging up arteries and raising levels of LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ type of cholesterol). One type of saturated fat that is actually beneficial for the body is coconut; it’s actually far higher in saturated fat than most other products, but they contain medium chain tryglicerides, (MTCs) which are fatty acids of a medium length. They have been shon to increase fat oxidation, boost metabolism, and aid in shedding excess body fat.
Monounsaturated and natural fats: These are the ‘good fats’, found in things like avocado, nuts, seeds, and hemp, olive, flax and argan oils. These all help to reduce cholesterol and trygliceride levels in blood, as well as protecting the body from types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. Read more here about why Fats Are Friends Not Foes in a piece I wrote for LoveLifeSupplements.co.uk
Perhaps the most simple guideline to follow is one that Michael Pollan suggests:
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Follow this and you can’t really go wrong…. Most importantly, don’t over-think it. Health is about the whole of your life, not just about what you put on your plate.
A Bowl of Benefits
Oats = complex carbohydrates containing high amounts of magnesium (something many of us are deficient in),
Rye = High in manganese, fiber, copper, iron and B-vitamins; it’s surprising how high in proteins grains like rye and oats are too. Just 100g of rye contains 10g of protein – 20% of the standard recommended daily intake!
Buckwheat = Technically a seed instead of a grain. Confusingly, buckwheat is also gluten free, even though it contains the word ‘wheat’ in the name. It’s high in protein and can also be added to trail mix for some satisfying crunchiness.
Apple = A natural liver detoxifier, apples protect the body from oxidative stress, which in turn protects DNA.
Ginger = Helps combat nausea and aids in the digestive process.
Vanilla Extract = Vanilla has a powerful effect on relaxing the nervous system.
Hemp = A true superfood and something I really believe everyone would benefit from. Hemp is one of the most easily digested things we can consume, it’s high in protein, contains all amino acids, healthy omega 3 fats, and is sustainable for the planet! It boosts mood, helps the body recover from physical and mental stress, and comes in many forms: whole seeds, shelled or hulled, milk and oil. Click here to find out about the many other products hemp can make, including clothes and paper!
Pink salt = contains an abundance of minerals; don’t be afraid of adding high quality salt to meals, as this allows the body to absorb water more effectively, and helps muscles work more efficiently.
Cardamom = A wonderful addition to many Indian dishes; cardamom aids digestion and has a naturally calming effect on the nervous system.
Soak Your Oats
Raw porridge requires the grains to be soaked overnight, allowing them to digest more easily. If you’re making porridge the usual way, it’s still a little better for your gut health to soak the ingredients overnight to help your body make the most of the nutrients.
- Half an apple, grated (organic if possible)
- A small amount of root ginger, grated
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp hemp oil
- pinch of pink Himalayan salt
- Liquid of your choice (non dairy milk, water or fresh juice)
- 1/8 tsp crushed cardamom
1 small handful of each:
- Rye flakes
- Buckwheat groats
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 handful of blueberries
Place all ingredients except the hemp oil into a bowl and pour in your liquid depending upon the kind of taste you fancy*.
Stir well and leave to set in the fridge over night
In the morning, stir in your hemp oil and top with optional cinnamon and blueberries. For an extra dose of good-mood-food, you could add half a banana, as bananas contain the amino acid tryptophan. The body uses tryptophan to make serotonin, a mood-boosting neuro-transmitter that will set you up for a positive day!
*Many people enjoy oats soaked in fresh orange juice for a sweeter taste. I used home made almond milk, made from a handful of soaked and peeled almonds, pink salt, vanilla and water all blended together. You could also use this delicious and simple Calming Cardamom-Cashew mylk recipe.