Health Promotion Specialist

October 3, 2018

Pimp your porridge – have you heard of the Golden Spurtle?

Us Scots know how to do a good breakfast – and no, I don’t mean a fry-up. In fact we’re the only country in the world to have a competition dedicated to the best porridge making skills in the land – the Golden Spurtle. But why are oats so good for us and what on earth is a Golden Spurtle?

Why porridge?

Porridge is a heart healthy breakfast thanks to its star ingredient – oats. Not only are oats a great source of wholegrain carbohydrates (good for slow-released energy); they also contain a good amount of fibre. Eating more fibre helps to keep us full for longer, and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart diease and stroke. 

Oats contain a special type of soluble fibre called ‘beta glucan’. Beta glucan can help to lower the bad cholesterol in our bodies if we eat 2-3 servings of oats each day (a 40g bowl of porridge is one serving). Soluble fibre works by creating a gel in our gut, which soaks up cholesterol and carries it out of the body.  (Hint: increase your oat intake by including oat cakes or oat breakfast biscuits in your diet each day).

Sick of the same oats every day? Pimp your porridge!

Porridge doesn’t have to be boring! There are lots of ways that you can make porridge even more delicious. Experiment to find your favourite flavour and try adding one of these ingredients today for a healthy breakfast:  

  • Fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruit all count – eating these at breakfast counts towards your 5+ a day
  • Toppings – low fat natural yoghurt, sliced almonds, flaxseed or chia seeds, fresh, frozen or dried fruits (think grated apple, a handful of berries or raisins), a sprinkling of cinnamon or ginger
  • Mix up your milk – low-fat cow’s milk contains calcium for strong teeth, but why not try an unsweetened and calcium-fortified soya milk, oat milk, almond milk or coconut water for a different flavour
  • Traditional porridge recipes contain salt, but go easy and only use a little if you must (eating less salts helps to maintain a healthy blood pressure)
  • Bircher muesli: sometimes known as overnight oats, its porridge another way! Soak oats overnight in low-fat milk, or yoghurt (with some water), flavour as you wish and refrigerate overnight. Serve hot or cold.
  • Avoid adding unnecessary sugar like golden syrup, brown sugar or too much honey, an extra serving of fruit should provide plenty of sweetness
  • Get really creative and make breakfast a special treat – we really like the sound of Apple Pie porridge! Check out the NHS website for the recipe.

On the go?

Bypass the croissant counter and head to the breakfast aisle of your local supermarket – there are now lots of great on-the-go options such as cereal and porridge pots – just add hot water (and a side of fruit if you like) and you have an instant breakfast. Tip: check the sugar content, some of these pots have added hidden sugar in them.

Or whip up a quick smoothie in the morning with some low-fat milk, fruit (berries and bananas work well) plus a handful of oats – yum!

The ‘Golden Spurtle’

The Golden Spurtle is Scotland’s very own ‘World Porridge Making Championship’. Held each October in Carrbridge, porridge connoisseurs from around the world battle it out in the bid to make the best porridge from oats, water and salt! The prize – a ‘golden’ Spurtle trophy (a Spurtle is a wooden kitchen tool used to stir porridge that dates back to the fifteenth century).

With winter on its way and the Golden Spurtle competition underway – what better time to kick-start your workday with this heart healthy breakfast!

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***Disclaimer: always seek medical advice before starting a new diet, exercise regime or medication. The information in these articles is not a substitute for professional advice from a GP, registered dietitian or other health practitioner.

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