Monday, February 1, 2016

Pump Up Your Porridge!

In this day and age of fast food breakfasts picked up from a drive thru window while you're rushing so as not to be late for work, school or an appointment, it's sometimes difficult to imagine breakfast any other way. In our fast paced world we sometimes forget that 'breakfast is the most important meal of the day'. A bowl of cold cereal and toast is probably standard for a lot of us. It's certainly better than what is being handed out that window! But, what about the old fashioned day starters?  When was the last time you cooked up a pot of porridge? Oatmeal or mush, it's all about the grains. This was how our ancestors ate their grains. Way before bread was even thought of,  people were cooking up a pot.  It was originally served as a savoury dish with meat and veggies. I can't quite get around to trying that, but the Americans do have a great love for their 'grits',  which is served with savoury foods or has savoury things added to it.

For many families, a sit down breakfast may happen on the weekend, or not at all. We live in a busy world where weekends are sometimes spent rushing off to leisure activities, catching up on chores, errands and maybe trying to catch up on some sleep!  Here at the Little Shack, we tend to lose track of what day it is, let alone why date!  Our days are filled with getting work done on the Shack, too much time on the computers, and eating.  Pretty low key existence. Homeschooling has allowed us to not have to be up and rushing first thing, plus the man of the house has retired, so no schedules whatsoever.  While we don't do a 'sit down' breakfast, most mornings I do prepare a hot breakfast.  Every few days I take a break and let everyone fend for themselves. This usually means Zac will grab a bowl of cold cereal and Trev will have his 'go to' breakfast of cinnamon toast.  Other mornings we'll have eggs and toast or an omelette. Pancakes and French toast are also a common occurrence.  I usually make a pot of porridge every 2nd morning at least. On the trapline, where our food choices are more limited, we have porridge even 2nd morning religiously.
Porridge fills you up, sticks with you and is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Check out the website Porridge Club for lot of great information on this super food. It's also super easy to prepare.  The packaging you purchase it in will have the recipe on it, so I won't bother with that here. But, I will share with you the way we like our porridge the best!

I always have oatmeal on hand, as well as Cream of Wheat and Red River (Sunny Boy and Bob's Red Mill 5 Grain are similar). I add enough cold water to my pot to ensure we all have a good sized bowl. In our case, 6 cups. Then a teaspoon of salt. I then add 2 cups of rolled oats and about 1/2 a cup of Red River cereal.  I let that simmer on a low flame while I get the toppings ready.

I chop up an apple for each of us and have ready my pre-mixed fruit and nut mix.  When I first started making our porridge like this, we were on the trapline. Up there I have a bucket of nuts an dried fruits. I would throw a spoonful of sunflower seeds, a bit of coconut, some chopped up dried apricots, raisons, craisons, sliced almonds...whatever we had lots of, on top.  At home at the Little Shack I have made up a mix with the things we like all ready together and keep it in a large jar with a scoop inside.  This definitely simplifies the process for me.

Once the porridge is cooked and ready to be served up, I get it into bowls, add some brown sugar to the top and then top it off with chopped apple and then the fruit/nut mix. Zac and Trev like theirs with milk as well, but I prefer mine without.

I like to change things up from time to time and add Cream of Wheat to the porridge mix. Or just straight oatmeal. It's always a great start to our day and keeps everyone happy till lunchtime.  Instead of just a bowl of mush, which in itself is a healthy, inexpensive food choice, we also get a serving of fruit and some extra punch from the dried fruit and nut!
Does your family rush through breakfast? Are Pop Tarts your kids idea of a good start to the day? I urge you to try taking the extra few minutes it takes to get your family off on their daily adventures with a hot bowl of porridge. It's so good for you, inexpensive to buy and easy to prepare. Give it a go!

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