This is another un-recipe post (similar to Brittle, Root’n’Fruit Roll-ups, Applesauce… and many L’Oven “recipes”) — basically it’s more of a concept than a recipe with strict proportions and instructions. The concept here is just a nutritionally upgraded hot cereal or oatmeal-type porridge, absolutely LOADED with protein, calcium, iron, vitamins and minerals.
I have a kid who is *obsessed* with ‘oatmeal’ and raisins. So obsessed that for his 4th birthday we hosted a ‘Breakfast for Dinner’ party as per one of his three birthday requests (his second and third requests being a Hulk smash cake and a Red Bull pinata…), allowing him to have his #1 meal of choice for dinner: oatmeal and raisins. In our family, “oatmeal” is more of a vague term for hot cereal — not your typical rolled oats, but an incredibly random imprecise concoction of seeds, grains, nuts and whatever (check out the Seeds & Grains ingredient section in My Pantry).As a hungry growing teenager (and competitive athlete), I would devour multiple packets of those convenient, sugar-loaded instant oatmeal cereals per meal. Eventually, as my gut health deteriorated and I sought out healthier options, I started cooking my own large flake rolled oats, adding my own flavours like cinnamon and maple syrup (and opting for gluten-free oats when I removed wheat from my diet). Over the past few years, grocery store shelves have filled up with many high-end specialty cereals featuring boastful health claims, fancy labels and sexy names. Reading the ingredient lists on these products, it becomes apparent that while many may be nutritious and convenient, many others contain junk ingredients like refined oils and sugars [totally not necessary in your porridge!]. Catering to the growing foodie trend (including gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, and organic options), many of these cereal mixtures are truly healthful; however, there are two downsides to these ‘designer’ blends: the unnecessary packaging and the shocking expense.It is far less wasteful and less expensive to buy your own seeds, nuts and grains (if you tolerate them) in bulk allowing you to create and customize your own posh porridge — in super fancy re-used pickle jars, for example. Check out My Pantry ingredients to learn more about some of the cereals and seeds listed below. Whatever you/your family are into — paleo, nut-free, extra coconut, etc. — mix up a large batch and it’s ready to go** (without the extra packaging, expense and dodgy ingredients of pre-made options). The kids and I like to lay out jars across the floor and measure, dump through funnels, learning fractions, spelling and geometry as we go 😉
** Since this approach does not involve ‘instant’ or even ‘quick’ oats, it does take longer to cook up. So if you’re in a rush in the morning (and even if you’re not), I recommend pre-soaking your mixture in water over night. As with soaking dried beans, the water exposure helps to break down phytic acid, making them more digestible and reducing your cooking time. If you’re still pressed for time, you also have the option of grinding up your blend into a more powder-y form (the smaller surface area will cook faster)… but, as with most things in life, I prefer the chunky, earthy, varied texture of the ingredients au naturel. Below are our preferred proportions if you want to make a bulk batch (though we rarely make our porridge exactly the same twice). [Note: my husband is not a big quinoa fan, so he’ll opt to skip quinoa in favour of some rolled oats]. You could start with the suggested proportions below and adjust to your own preferences as you go, or you can start with your regular oat base (whether quick-cook oats, steel cut or any hot cereal) and gradually begin experimenting by adding in small amounts of any of the various ingredients below and determining your preferences.
- 3 cups organic buckwheat groats
- ½ cup organic quinoa
- ½ cup chia seeds
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- ½ cup hemp hearts
- ⅓ cup teff
- ¼ cup amaranth
- Optional add-ins: rolled oats, coconut flakes, dried fruit, cinnamon
- When it's time to cook the porridge, you will also need water, sea salt and any extras such as almond milk, vanilla, toppings, etc.
- Prepare your base mixture of dry grains, seeds, nuts, etc.
- Store in an air-tight jar or container, in a cool dark place so it's ready to go.
- When it's porridge-making time, measure out desired amount of dry mixture (e.g. ½ cup dry mixture will yield approximately 4 portions).
- In a dish, add enough water to generously cover the mixture. Soak 2 hours or overnight.
- Strain and rinse mixture.
- Add fresh water (4 times the amount of original dry mixture -- e.g. for ½ cup dry mixture, add 2 cups water) and cook over medium heat for approximately 20-30 minutes, checking texture and doneness at about 20 minutes (you may want to add more liquid and increase cooking time if you like a smoother, sloppier texture).
- When done to your preference, remove from heat.
- Add salt, maple syrup, honey, almond milk, vanilla, nuts, dried fruit, fresh berries, cinnamon, brittle, apples, banana, coconut.......... anything you like!
- Serve hot, warm or cold.
Top your hot cereal with chopped nuts, berries, banana, dried fruit or brittle. Sweeten with maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar or apple sauce. Eat it hot, cold, chunky or thin it out with almond milk or kefir. There really are no rules.
On a cold, snowy day, nothing beats a bowl of hot porridge… or two… possibly three.