Breakfast is not our best time of the day. My kids are not morning people. There is screaming, shouting and a little more screaming. “I don’t like porridge! (aka oatmeal) We always have porridge!” They wail. I am tempted to buy some ear plugs and forget all about healthy eating for children. Perhaps I should let them eat chocolate cereal. Or just ditch breakfast altogether.
But I don’t. And here’s why.
Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. It fills up little tummies with all the energy they need to learn, play and grow.
Breakfast is good for your long term health, people who skip breakfast are more likely to have problems with weight control. (I suspect they overly compensate later on.)
And here’s the all time biggy.
It wouldn’t make any difference whether we eat cardboard boxes or chocolate cereal every day, my kids will still find something to shout about.
So the healthy breakfast stays.
We alternate between “the most healthy cereal boxes” I can find and porridge.
Museli, bran flakes and weetabix are all convenient and just about shuffle into “healthy”. I offer extra fruit. Optimistically.
Porridge is Healthy
Despite the numerous complaints, my kids actually love porridge. We normally eat it with either a spoonful of honey or condensed milk and a handful of dried fruit. I love nuts and seeds. Not so my kids.
Oats are whole grains. That means they haven’t had all their fibrous outsides taken off. Fiber is good for your bowel. Great for kids to prevent constipation. Great for adults to lower their risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.
Porridge is a great healthy eating habit to get into.
Check out the other health benefits of oats here.
Add a Bit of Fat to Keep You Full
A bit of fat helps you feel full up for longer. I often add a teaspoon of coconut oil or a dollop of full fat, no sugar greek yoghurt.
Oatmeal Doesn’t Contain Sugar
Another thing I really love about porridge is that it doesn’t have any sugar or salt. I do add honey, which is basically sugar, but I can control how much I add. When I look at cereal packets, despite being able to read the numbers, I’m never sure EXACTLY how much sugar my kids are getting.
Plus the more cereal they eat, the more sugar then get. If you just have a spoonful of sugar, you get the same even if you put it in a large bowl of porridge.
How to Make Porridge
Porridge does take around 10 minutes to make. You do need to leave enough time in your morning routine.
- I use a cup of oats for each person.
- I cook porridge on the hob, but you can cook it in either a microwave or a slow cooker. We don’t have a microwave and I’m not organised enough to make it in the slow cooker.
- Cover the oats with water. Add some milk. Cook.
It’s really simple. You don’t have to worry much about quantities. Keep stirring so that it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom of the pan.
You may need to add more liquid if you prefer it runny.
The porridge is ready when the oats taste cooked. They no longer have the soapy taste of raw oats that are half cooked. (Raw oats don’t have that taste but partly cooked ones do.)
Healthy Porridge Toppings
Porridge is really versatile. It’s so easy to give it a different taste.
- Add cinnamon. Or cardamon if you’re feeling exotic.
- Stewed fruit.
- Nuts and seeds. I love sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or flaked almonds but anything is good!
- Dried fruit. Raisins, dates, prunes, cranberries.
- Dried apricots. To make a super amazing porridge (and one that your baby who is learning to eat will love) cook the apricots in with the porridge. Then whizz it with a hand blender so that the apricots disappear and you’re left with a golden porridge that tastes heavenly.
- Fresh fruit. Cut up grapes, apple or strawberries.
- Desiccated coconut.
- Banana and walnuts.
- Banana and cinnamon.
- Peanut butter and banana. OK, I’ve never tried that one, but one of my readers recommends it. Let’s trust her and give it a go.
Finally the hullabaloo settles down and is replaced with the quiet of children devouring their healthy porridge. In a few minutes they’ll be stamping their feet and demanding more.
I have managed to survive another breakfast without earplugs. No doubt, we’ll go through the same routine tomorrow morning, screams and shouts of protest and then wolfing down their healthy breakfast. It can be exhausting, but I know that teaching my children healthy eating habits is precious lesson to learn.
P.S. If you’re too lazy to get up in time to make porridge, over night oats are a great alternative.