Porridge. It’s not very sexy is it? Even the word has a splodgey sound to it. It is, however, incredibly good for you; as you probably know, porridge releases energy slowly into your system over the course of the morning so it gets burned up powering you through your day rather than depositing itself on your hips. Yet, paradoxically, the foods that help us look good are often considered as boring and unsexy. (Conversely, chocolate for me is as sexy as it gets, but I’ve said goodbye to my cheekbones for it) Porridge gets an unfair rap, so I say let us celebrate this superfood! Here are a few of my favourites, from bright and fresh to dirty and indulgent.

Toasting porridge

Ultimate indulgent porridge (pictured top of page)

The combination of brown butter and hazelnuts makes for a deep, almost smoky flavoured porridge. It’s a bit naughty, which is exactly how it tastes.

  • 80g rolled oats
  • 400ml semi skimmed milk
  • ½tsp salt
  • 30g Greek yoghurt
  • 2tbsp maple syrup
  • Handful of hazelnuts
  • 5 prunes, chopped
  • 30g butter

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.

Put the hazelnuts in the oven for a few minutes; when they start to colour/become fragrant, take them out and leave to cool. They’ll burn easily, so be careful. When cooled, the easiest way I’ve found the get the skins off is to put them in a tea towel and roll them on a worktop. It messes up your tea towel a bit; small price to pay. Roughly chop. This is very easy with a sharp knife – if your knife isn’t very sharp, they’ll ping all over the place.

Combined the oats, milk and salt and make your porridge as you like it. I toast my oats whenever there’s time by adding them to a frying pan over a medium heat until they become fragrant. I also use a porringer, which slow cooks to creamy perfection with just the odd stir.

In the meantime, melt the butter on a low heat, and remove the foam the forms on the top with a tablespoon.

Add a little salt to the porridge if you think it needs it, stir in the Greek yoghurt, then the maple syrup. Transfer to warm bowls and scatter over the prunes, hazelnuts and dots of brown butter.

Date & Pistachio porridge

Date & Pistachio

There’s a great balance of sweetness and nuttiness with this porridge, and a lovely depth of interesting flavour. This is my go-to most of the time.

  • 80g rolled oats
  • 400ml semi skimmed milk
  • ½tsp salt
  • Handful of dates, pitted
  • Handful of pistachio nuts, peeled and roughly chopped

Make the porridge as you like it. In the meantime, boil the kettle and put the dates in a cup. Pour over the just boiled water so it just reaches the top of the dates and leave for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, fish the dates out of the water (don’t throw away the soaking liquid) and the skins should peel off easily. Discard the skins and blend the soaking liquid with the dates to make a puree.

When your porridge is cooked, transfer to warmed bowls, swirl-in the date puree and sprinkle the chopped pistachios.

Apple & Walnut porridge

Apple & Walnut 

This makes a decent enough weekday porridge, but it does feel slightly worthy. If you want something healthy and refreshing though (refreshing for porridge, anyway), it hits the spot.

  • 80g rolled oats
  • 400ml semi skimmed milk
  • ½tsp salt
  • 1 apple
  • Handful walnuts – roughly chopped

Making the porridge as you like it, but add a grated apple along with the liquid at the start. Pour into warm bowls when cooked, scatter over the chopped walnuts and serve.