Greetings friends, from what has been a surprisingly sunny Edinburgh. See what I did there? In the (slightly longer than intended) interim since my last post, Adam and I have uprooted ourselves and relocated to (literally) the other side of the world. (No seriously, we checked. Scotland is diagonally on the opposite side of the world to Brisbane. If we really wanted to get particular, Iceland is closer to diagonally opposite.) We're here in Edinburgh until the beginning of October (staying in a great airbnb), then we head to Paris for October. We've been in Edinburgh for a week, after spending a couple of nights in London (again, airbnb delivered: Rory the cat, guys.) My camera didn't get out of my bag those few days in London, but Instagram sure got a good work over. You can follow our adventures here.
It feels good to be here. I was lucky enough (thanks Mum and Dad!) to live in London as an already-nearly-six-foot pre-teen, nearly 15 years ago. To say I fell in love would be a bit of an understatement. To be back here with Adam is special and amazing in about 50,000 different ways. (It's his first time in Europe, and getting to experience things anew with him is magic.) Mostly because the balance between where we're similar and different is pretty much bang on. We're both keen to stop in every decent-looking coffee shop, every art gallery and museum, and to walk at least 10km every day (one day in London we walked, ahem, 29km). However, I'm happy to leave Adam to his explorations in Edinburgh's cemeteries, and he's happy to leave my lingering visits to every health food store I come across.
When we got to Edinburgh, food (unsurprisingly) became my first priority. The kitchen in our airbnb has great fittings (gas stove!) but is a little light on the gadgets to which I'm used (like a blender, and measuring cups?), which has meant I've been forced to be a little more relaxed and simple in my approach to meals. I've also needed my meals to keep me full, happy and going for hours of walking (a hungry Harriet, as Adam can attest, is not a pretty site). Porridge was something I quickly settled on for my morning fix. It's filling, cheap, and once the grains are cooked, takes only minutes to throw together.
This brings me to the porridge equation, just in case the variation I present to you here doesn't float your boat. In my opinion, there are a couple of key elements to a successful porridge bowl. No matter what's in your cupboard, what season you're in, how much time you have, each element can be incorporated in some fashion. Now, when I make a porridge bowl that skips an element, I really notice it, and I'm just not as happy or satisfied. I give a outline of the proportions I use in the recipe below, but I encourage you to experiment and figure out what qualities work for you and your body.
THE PORRIDGE EQUATION
GRAINS | The foundation of your porridge bowl (don't skimp!). My preference here are for whole grains that emphasise texture and have a reasonably rounded balance between protein and carbs. My current favourite is amaranth, but the options here include: oats, quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, millet. Cook up a big batch of grain and you've got a quick breakfast for 3-4 days at least.
FRUIT | Go for what's in season and tastes best. At the moment, Scotland is enjoying plums and berries for days. But I'm looking forward to making stewed spiced apples a regular feature as the weather gets colder. Cooked or raw or dried (or a combo), as a start you can think about: any sort of berry, peaches, plums, pears, apples, banana, rhubarb, apricots, figs, cherries.
NUTS + SEEDS | These babes add a dose of good fats, protein and tonnes of nutrients. Toasted (my current fav) they add a nutty, crunchy flavour and texture boost. Seeds to try: hemp, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin. Nuts to try: almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, brazil nuts. Hell, even nut butter is a good substitute here (though I really do like the texture contrast with whole nuts).
SWEET | A drizzle of something sweet is going to make everything even better. If you're concerned about sugar, try halving what you would normally add, and challenge yourself to notice the difference. I'm always surprised by how little I need. I've picked up some Scottish blossom honey, which is creamy and divine, but use anything you like: maple syrup, panela sugar, date syrup.
CREAMY | Because my preference is for a wholegrain porridge, I notice I want something creamy to lubricate and sort of bind everything together. My go-to would normally be cashew cream, but the no-blender situation has encouraged me to rethink alternatives. If you're happy with a more liquid option, a dash of your milk of choice is a good idea. A dab of coconut manna or cream would also be delicious. I've been experimenting with adding a little more dairy back into my diet (when I got my celiac diagnosis, my gut was so damaged I couldn't handle it) and I've been pleased to notice that small amounts of good quality stuff don't upset me. This means that a dollop of real-deal clotted cream has been a regular feature on top of my porridge bowl. But the second I get my hands on a blender, you can bet that vanilla-studded cashew cream will be in my belly before you can blink.
So there you go, my manifesto on a better porridge breakfast. Find your favourite and then forget it for your next one.
AUTUMN PORRIDGE BOWL1 cup amaranth (makes enough for 4 bowls)
3 small victoria plums
a handful of blueberries
a small handful of hemp seeds
a small handful of mixed nuts
a drizzle of honey
a dollop of clotted cream
Cook the amaranth by placing it with 2.5 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and store cooked grain in an airtight container in the fridge until needed. Take 1/4 of the cooked grain and reheat with a splash of water (depending on your tastes, you may want to add up to 1/4 cup more to get a looser consistency).
Toast seeds and nuts in a dry frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and golden brown. Meanwhile, halve, de-stone and slice plums. Top the re-heated amaranth with sliced plums, blueberries, toasted nuts + seeds, a drizzle of honey and a dollop of clotted cream. Enjoy.