I get asked, with surprising frequency, “how do I make gluten free porridge for breakfast?” Can I just say that I’m so impressed that so many people enjoy and seek out nourishing breakfasts! Power on!!
And to answer that often asked question, I thought I’d share my ideas on creating breakfast porridges. It’s not all that complex and once you’ve got the basic ingredients you can create such a great range of delush breakfasts.
I guess one of the first things I learnt when making porridges is that there isn’t necessarily one grain that makes a great porridge. But then again, with so many wonderful choices, why stick with just one? Also, if you’re trying to introduce your family to the bird seed grains, a bowl full of teeny amaranth seeds or soapy, mushy stewed buckwheat kasha might not go down so well, and you’ll find your efforts being scraped out for the chickens to enjoy! (Yep, been there, done that! Once, I’d so much millet porridge left that even the chooks got sick of it! 😉 )
First of all you need to start with RICE FLAKES. These little beauties are available in an amazing range of thickness from Asian/Indian grocery stores, and by using them you can achieve lovely textured and in-mouth feel porridges. They are also very neutral in flavour and are inexpensive. For myself, I tend to use a combination of thin rice flakes, thick rice flakes and brown rice flakes in a ratio of 1:1:1. But the ratio is completely up to you and your porridge style preference. Just as some people like rolled oats while others prefer cooking oats to make their porridge. The rice blend combination can be adapted to suit individual tastes.
Using a range of flakes also creates a better glycemic index than just using thin, white rice flakes. I make up a big air-tight container so they’re on hand when I want them. I call this my “RICE BLEND BASE”.
It’s a great idea to have a bowl of these rice flakes soaking overnight in either water or your liquid of choice. I ususally soak mine in filtered water and then cook them up the desired quantity for breakfast in some water and rice milk, or milk of choice. I always add a pinch of salt into my porridges – it seems to bring the flavours together and help balance them, plus it suits my morning palette better.
When it’s time to cook (or not cook if you prefer a cold porridge or muesli) your porridge, the fun begins. At your disposable is an amazing array of grains, flakes, seeds to make your porridge more nutritionally robust and more varied in taste and texture. Both the flakes and whole grains can be used. For flakes, I’d suggest amranth and quinoa flakes. You can get millet and buckwheat flakes, but my preference is to use these grains whole in the cereal mix. I’d use the ratio of 1:3 of flakes to rice blend base.
Millet seeds and buckwheat seeds freshly roasted are delicious added into a porridge mix. They add crunch and a nutty flavour. Amaranth seed in a smaller quantity is also nice, but I prefer to use amaranth flakes or freshly popped amaranth in my porridge blend. Other pseudo-grains can be used, but these two are my favourites as they can be eaten uncooked and once dry roasted they nut-up in such a lovely way. Other grains stay quite hard unless cooked out or are very small and seedy and don’t always provide a nice in-mouth feel in the mix. I like to use a ratio of 1:2 of seeds/grains to rice base blend, or sometimes 1:1.
Puffed grains/seeds are also scrummy to add into your porridge mix: millet, amaranth, sorghum, buckwheat, rice, and quinoa are all excellent. Some seeds, such as amaranth are REALLY easy to pop yourself. Just add tablespoons to a dry, hot skillet or pot and keep it moving to stop the seeds from burning. They only take around 30secs to pop. Freshly popped means that nutritionally your seed is still intact, not old and stale from sitting on a shelf for weeks and weeks. They are also great added into slices or cakes.
There is a world of scrumptious seeds out there that add another dimenion to your porridge blends: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds/pepitas, chia seeds, sesame seeds (white and black), linseeds/flaxseeds, hemp seeds, poppy seeds. Again, these seeds can be dry roasted to give them a little wake up just before you use them. I don’t avocate the purchase of seeds or nuts already roasted. It’s my philosophy that once roasted, the oils in the seeds/nuts start to oxidise and it’s possible for them to go rancid. Just as fresh fruits and veggies are best, so too are freshly roasted seeds and nuts best. Nutritionally intact and robust is the best way to nurture your body.
Of course, soaking/activating your seeds/nuts/grains is also a great way to prepare your porridge. The quantity of seeds into the porridge blend, depends upon how much porridge I’m preparing and what sort of flavour I want. Generally, I use seeds as decoration on the top of my porridges, as you don’t need a lot of seeds to get their benefits.
Another great decoration for your porridge that offers fantastic nutritional benefits is coconut. Lovely chunky coconut flakes freshly roasted are just yummy in any porridge blend. Nuts are also super to give your porridge a little “hello!” Dry roasted and coarsely chopped, they are lovely way to dress-up your breakfast. A sprinkle of homemade or purchased granola chunks and/or seedy clusters are another decoration for your porridge. It’s also a good way to sweeten the dish and add some some crunch.
Dried, fresh. stewed fruits are a great way to doll-up your porridge, as well as adding another nutritional dimension and some sweetness. At this point, the sky is the limit. With dried fruits such as medjool dates or organic dried apricots, chop them into little pieces and stir through the porridge, and they’ll impart a lovely natural sweetness.
So to recap: start with a RICE BASE BLEND. If you have time, soak your blend with your prefered flavour destination: flakes (amaranth/quinoa flakes) and/or grain-seeds (millet/buckwheat). Cook with your milk of choice and pinch of salt. Once cooked you can add or decorate the top with a range of fancies: puffs, coconut flakes, nuts, granola, freshly roasted seeds, and fruits. Of course, the porridge can be sweetened, if that’s your desire; maple syrup and honey are fantastic choices, but whatever is on hand or suits you will work.
Now, of course, you can make a porridge with a single grain or seed or flake, such as amaranth or quinoa or millet or buckwheat porridge. Of course this is possible, I’m just sharing the ideas that I’ve gleaned along the way to make porridges that seems to work to suit most people. In their entirity, some of the seeds and grains can seem a bit of an overwhelming mouthful for those who aren’t used to them. I’m a lover of diversification and so this is the way I swing. But the path to delicious porridge is a little bit like asking “how long is a piece of string?” It’s as long or as short as you want it to be! 🙂
Happy porridging!!! 🙂