I am forever reading how porridge is such a great breakfast because of the health boosting, cholesterol lowering properties of oats etc but when you are living a gluten free, dairy free lifestyle you tend to think of a bowl of milky, sticky cereal as your worst nightmare.
However since I became aware of gluten free oats, and more familiar with the various dairy free milks, I decided it was time to face my fears and see if this could be made palatable, appealing and safe for my intolerant child. Certainly porridge was a favourite when I was weaning him, but in my experience most babies love all foods at that age, it is only once they get older, discover the word ‘no’, and in our case are given the cast iron excuse ‘but it might give me a tummy ache’ that you find yourselves getting less and less adventurous with food.
So it is a while since porridge has been on the menu, but as I am on this quest to find multiple safe breakfast options, I have to explore ‘oats’. Thankfully, the porridge making method was explained on the back of the packet. I got my gluten free oats from Waitrose, but I have also bought them from Sainsbury’s in the past – always in the free from sections and clearly marked – gluten free.
To make one serving you need 40g of porridge oats, put them in a large microwaveable bowl and stir in 160ml of milk – I used Kara dairy free coconut milk, but I have been told it works just as well with rice milk, soya milk, almond milk and of course, water. My microwave is 800w so I put it on for one minute at full power and then gave a stir. I then microwave for another minute and twenty seconds. It was ready. The pack says you should stir it again and let it stand for a minute. Simple.
The pack also has the method for cooking on the hob, but I couldn’t be bothered with that and I was already busy creating my porridge topping over there anyway. As I said before, I never found porridge very appealing, and even this version looked a bit like wallpaper paste, so I knew I would have to dress it up very well to get my intolerant child interested enough to give it a try.
That is when I hit on the idea of a ‘warm’ fruit salad topping. When I was cooking the porridge, he came in to the kitchen and said he wanted a fruit salad, so I thought I would make one that goes nicely with the porridge. Biting into cold and crunchy foods stirred through thick warm porridge might be an odd sensation so I thought it would be better to cook the fruit.
I took a little Cox’s apple from the fridge, peeled and cubed it. I got a handful of sultanas and sliced half a small banana. I heated a blob of Pure dairy free spread in a small sauce pan and when it had melted added the apple. I also then added a blob of agave syrup, to sweeten the apple and caramelise it a bit. Next I added the sultanas and banana. To me cooked apple and sultanas ‘need’ some warming spice, so I added a sprinkle of cinnamon and tiny bit of nutmeg. I let it all cook gently for a minute or two until all the fruits were quite soft and golden and my kitchen started to smell a bit Christmassy – to be honest it did look a bit like a mince pie filling, but that’s not such a bad thing is it? Especially on a cold February morning.
So I poured my porridge mix into my breakfast bowl, topped it with the warm fruit salad and presented it to Zac. I was so proud, it looked delicious and smelled amazing. He took one look and said ‘No, I said a cold fruit salad’ and scooted off. So as usual, I ate it – and loved it, safe in the knowledge that although at first glance it might appear a bit of a sticky and sweet stodge fest – it had been made the with very best of ingredients. I had used gluten free oats, non dairy milk, fresh fruit and a low GI ‘natural’ sweetener etc. So although I guess it is still laden with carbs and calories at least I know they are ‘good’ ones!