Porridge oats are a high-fibre powerhouse, and they hold a strong position on my list of the best foods for soluble fibre. But eating a bowl of porridge every morning can get boring.
So, what can you do to spruce your breakfast up?
What fantastic toppings, flavours and sprinkles can you add to your bowl of oats in this morning? And, more importantly, what are the healthy toppings that you can add?
(After all, there’s not much point preparing a heart healthy, super fuelling, bowl of porridge… if you then mix in a couple of tablespoons of sugar and maple syrup!)
How to make the perfect porridge
The perfect porridge starts with oats. Try rolled oats or jumbo oats for a chunky texture, or regular oats for a smoother texture.
Use a ratio of:
- 1 part oats
- 1 part milk (Any milk will work, but oat milk gives a creamy result if you don’t drink cow milk)
- 1 part water
Put your oats and liquid into a pan and cook on a low heat, stirring regularly. The best porridge is made low and slow – don’t be tempted to turn up the heat to get it to cook faster, as you’ll end up with gummy, burned oats on the bottom and watery porridge on the top.
Now that you’ve made your porridge, what next? Here, I round up my top sweet and savoury healthy toppings.
What can I put on my porridge? Sweet toppings
Sweet porridge is the most popular, and fruity toppings add a colourful dose of antioxidants to start your day. Be wary of adding too much syrup or sugar though, or you’ll negate the benefits of the oats.
Cinnamon is a delicious spice that also happens to come with a bunch of health benefits. It’s an anti-inflammatory, and contains manganese, an essential nutrient that boosts bone strength and regulates blood sugar. Combine it with oats and BOOM – a delicious breakfast that will keep your blood sugar steady all day long.
Check out this banana and cinnamon porridge recipe from Jamie Oliver.
Another delicious spice! And one that is reputed to lower cholesterol, relieve pain and sooth indigestion. Combine it with your morning porridge and your gut will thank you.
Check out this ginger and nutmeg porridge recipe from Schwartz.
Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps you absorb iron. They also contain a decent amount of soluble fibre, so topping your porridge with blueberries is a sure fire way to boost your fibre intake. Plus they turn your porridge a beautiful blue colour!
Try this porridge with blueberry compote recipe from BBC Good Food.
Another vitamin C packed berry, blackberries are often cheaper than other berries and just as good for you. Plus they are high in fibre and manganese. Chuck a handful in your porridge and enjoy!
Or try this recipe for blackberry porridge from A Fox in the Kitchen.
It’s possible to have too many raisins – like all dried fruit, they are high in sugar – but if you do want a sweet hit, then raisins come with all kinds of goodness. For example, unlike regular sugar, raisins contain phytochemicals that help fight the bacteria that cause cavities! Definitely a good reason to reach for the raisins over the granulated sugar.
Try this baked banana, blueberry and raisin oatmeal recipe from Deliciously Ella.
Apparently prunes have been renamed ‘dried plums’ in the USA. Go figure! Anyway, prunes have long been used as a remedy for constipation and a few prunes in your porridge will definitely help keep everything moving.
Try this oat & chia porridge with prunes recipe from BBC Good Food.
Bananas are an excellent supply of potassium, which helps regulate heart function and fluid levels – which means they are great for blood pressure. Slice up a banana and top your porridge with it for a heart healthy start.
Or try this banana chocolate oatmeal recipe from My Weekend Kitchen.
(Chocolate for breakfast? YES PLEASE.)
Flax seed (Linseed)
Flax seed made it onto my list of foods that are great for soluble fibre. But it isn’t just high in fibre. Flax seeds also contain lots of omega-3 which protects you from heart disease. Flax seeds make a fantastic porridge topper.
Try this apple and linseed porridge from BBC Good Food.
Yoghurt? On porridge? Really?
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Live yoghurt – the kind that is labelled as probiotic – is really good for your gut. Replenish your good bacteria with the yoghurt, and feed those same bacteria with the soluble fibre in your oats! Win win!
Try this honey and yoghurt porridge recipe from Ocado.
Look, any meal can contain chocolate if you try hard enough.
And, in fact, chocolate can be pretty good for you. Dark chocolate (75% cocoa and up) contains soluble fibre and is loaded with minerals. If you’re looking for iron, magnesium, copper and manganese then chocolate is your friend.
Try this chocolate porridge recipe from Jamie Oliver.
(It contains orange. Chocolate orange is the best)
Peanut butter is fantastic for anyone looking to add more protein to their diet. The kind without added sugar is about 25% protein and 50% fat, making it ideal for anyone looking to eat a hearty and sustaining breakfast.
Try this peanut butter porridge recipe from One Clever Chef.
Don’t fear. If peanut butter isn’t your thing, almond butter makes for just as good a porridge topping. Rich in vitamin E and magnesium, almond butter is also rich and delicious. Enjoy an incredibly decadent bowl of porridge tomorrow morning by adding some almond butter.
Try this almond butter and warm raspberry porridge from The Vegan Cookie Fairy.
What can I put on my porridge? Savoury toppings
Porridge doesn’t have to be sweet! You can swap out your milk for stock, broth or more water when making porridge, and it makes a great base for savoury toppings (just be careful about the salt content). Plus savoury porridge makes a great (and cheap) dinner as well as breakfast!
Yes, you can add eggs to porridge. Adding an egg gives a big protein boost to your bowl of oats in the morning, meaning your breakfast will have real staying power.
Check out this recipe for Egg-Boosted Oatmeal from Mind Body Green.
Is there anything that avocado doesn’t go with? Loaded with good fats, instagram appeal, and potassium, avocado is a breakfast mainstay. Use it to elevate your oats to another level.
Check out this recipe for Avocado and Peach Oatmeal from Healthy.
Onions and peppers
For a truly savoury breakfast, head to the vegetables. Onions and peppers add deeply satisfying breakfast flavours, and also count toward your 5 a day.
Check out this chorizo, onion and pepper porridge by Betty Crocker.
Spinach is a low calorie porridge addition that is a nutritional powerhouse. High in iron and calcium, it’s a leafy green that should be on everybody’s radar.
Try this Spinach and Mushroom Savoury Porridge by Mind Body Bowl.
Sun-dried tomatoes add a whallop of umami flavour to any meal. They also provide vitamins C and K, iron, and lycopene, an antioxidant associated with lower risk of certain cancers. Dress up your morning porridge with a tablespoon of sun-dried tomato for an exotic and delicious breakfast.
Try this Sun-dried Tomato Basil Oatmeal recipe from Coach’s Oats.
Pesto is another flavour hit. It’s most often made with basil, but can actually be made with any herb. Either make your own pesto for total control over the ingredients, or look for high-quality pesto that isn’t loaded with salt and sugar.
Try this Savoury Italian Pesto Porridge recipe from The Modelfood Diary.
Cheese? For breakfast? Oh yeah, sign me up! Cheese is a great source of calcium, a good source of protein, and its fat content means it is filling and satisfying. Be warned that cheese can be a little high in calories if you’re trying to lose weight, and if you are struggling with gut issues then adding a ton of cheese to your oats may not be the best idea. But if you know cheese is not a trigger food for you, then grate away!
Try this cheese and onion porridge recipe from The Pier House.
Pretty much all leafy greens are good for you, but arugula is actually a cruciferous vegetable (like broccoli)! It’s a great source of calcium, vitamin K and various antioxidants including alpha-lipoic acid, which is helpful for regulating blood sugar.
Try this Citrus Arugula Steel-cut Oatmeal recipe from The Oatmeal Artist
I always feel like scallions/spring onions are the best of adding both a handful of fresh herbs and a handful of raw onion to your meals. Anyway, spring onions add a zingy freshness to porridge, along with a dose of vitamin C and calcium.
Try this Savoury porridge with Soy & Spring Onion from Tasty Bytes.
Mushrooms are literally my favourite breakfast food. So adding them to porridge makes me super happy. Plus, mushrooms contain two types of dietary fibre: beta-glucans and chitin. Along with that, they are a vegetarian source of protein, and contain selenium, an antioxidant that boosts the immune system.
Try this Leek and Mushroom Porridge recipe from The Food Medic.
Nutritional Yeast (‘nooch’)
If you’re not up for adding dairy to your breakfast, either because it doesn’t agree with you or because you’re vegan for ethical reasons, then nutritional yeast, or ‘nooch’, is a great cheese-like alternative that adds that all important umami flavour, as well as B12, an essential nutrient.
Try this Savoury Oatmeal with Soy Sauce and Nutritional Yeast from The Taste Space.
I only mention asparagus because it is currently in season. Actually, we’re just coming to the end of asparagus season 😥 but it will be back again next year! Asparagus is particularly rich in glutathione, a compound that may break down carcinogens. It also tastes A-MAZE-ING.
Try this recipe for Savoury Asparagus Oatmeal from Diabetes Forecast.
Courgette is a super versatile vegetable that can be added to almost anything to boost the nutrient content without adding a lot of calories. The new ‘trend’ is to add it to oats, for a meal called ‘Zoats’. Look out for the hashtag on instagram!
Try this Oat and Zucchini Protein Porridge from Nourish Everyday.
Finally, we have chickpeas. Chickpeas are a great way to boost the protein content of your breakfast. They also contain plenty of fibre of their own, making a breakfast of porridge and chickpeas a truly gut friendly start to the day.
Try this Oat, Mint and Chickpea Porridge from Chitra’s Healthy Kitchen.
Porridge is a template: make it your own
I hope this list of porridge toppings and recipe ideas has helped inspire you to create some fantastic breakfast bowls. I’d love to see your creations on instagram – just tag them with #porridgetoppings!