Perfect Porridge

December 5, 2010

I have discovered my perfect bowl of porridge. I wasn’t even on a mission, it just came to me, after not a lot of fuss at all. I love meals like that, ones that surprise you with their brilliance.

I have previously mentioned my love of oats, many times. But recently I have found myself making perfect bowl after perfect bowl – just in time for summer…?? Peculiar timing it may be, nevertheless I have wholeheartedly embraced this blessing and have unabashedly made perfect porridge for breakfast four times in the past week.

Ordinarily, two or three times a week, first thing in the morning (although I don’t restrict my porridge eating to breakfast only) I will get an urge for a warming bowl of porridge. I have my go-to ingredients, which are rolled oats and chia seeds. Rolled oats because I like a thicker oat (plus, rolled oats have a lower GI than quick oats), and chia seeds as they are an easy, quick way to get a dose of protein and omega-3’s. Another reason why chia seeds have cemented their place as a founding member in my porridge, is that they swell when in contact with water. Here is a little chia tip for you: a little water with chia seeds, left to sit for a while, makes an excellent egg replacer when getting your vegan-bake on. This fabulous feature makes the porridge thicker and kind of pudding-like, which I enjoy.

So, I have my oats and my chia seeds, they are always present. But the other ingredients? That completely depends on my mood…

I usual stick with skinny milk (update: my views have changed, see here), although I do occasionally feel like the nutty flavour of soymilk. One of my favourite additions is banana. I take a fairly ripe banana (under-ripe ones simply don’t work) and slice it into what I can only describe as dainty chunks – not large pieces, and not uniform thin slices – somewhere in between. I add this along with the oats, chia seeds and milk at the very beginning. Cooking the banana as you diligently, and occasionally vigorously, stir the contents of the pot makes the oats thicker again, and imparts a lovely sweet flavour that blends entirely throughout the oats, binding everything together. I can’t stress enough how much I adore my porridge with a banana base.

More often than not, I don’t add another sweetener, as the banana is sweet enough. However if the banana is not as ripe as I would like or the flavour is unremarkable, I may add an additional ingredient to make the dish sing. This is usually maple syrup.

For years I was a girl who had porridge the same way, every time. I would cook my oats with half water, half milk and top with honey, sliced banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon. And I was happy. But things changed – I grew up, I travelled the world and developed new tastes. I am now more adventurous, hungry and excited about my food and cooking. My kitchen shelves have been taken over by nut butters, coconut oil, orange blossom water, agave nectar, brown rice syrup – the list goes on. I still have a place for my vegemite, my honey – but they now stand more towards the back, and tend to only come when a nostalgic craving strikes.

The other day I tried my honey, banana, cinnamon combination again, and I must say, it no longer satisfies me as it used to. I am now officially a maple syrup convert, and a snobby one, at that – it must be pure maple syrup, not maple flavoured syrup. However I do occasionally mix things up in the sweetener department, I am known to be rather outrageous with my oats after all. So sometimes I will have a sprinkle of brown sugar on top of my porridge. I love the way the sugar pools on the hot oats, like fallen snowflakes scattered on the ground. Beautiful!

On the rare occasion, I may want some dried fruit. When I do, I add a dessert spoon of sultanas at the start of the cooking process. This way they go all juicy and turgid, and stupendously delicious, as they soak up the liquid. They turn from a frail, sarcopenic bite into a plump, jolly, bursting bubble. Despite the deliciousness that is the slightly stewed sultana, most of the time I am a fresh fruit girl.

I like to add the fruit once the porridge is cooked and served into bowls. My favourite toppings are fresh blueberries – so soft and plump, with a subtle sweetness. Other fresh fruit that works well are raspberries, strawberries, pears and bananas. Fresh apples are an option, but they’re even better stewed – so soft and tart. However I don’t always have stewed apples on hand, and rarely have time to prepare them in the morning – such a shame 🙂 So more often than not, I don’t pair apples with porridge.

If I am sweetening my porridge with brown sugar, I would do it now, once served into bowls. You the sugar to melt, like dark, rich snowflakes. If I am using maple syrup, however, I tend to add a dash halfway through the cooking process.

My perfect bowl of porridge is nearly ready, all I need now is some crunch. What better way to add crunch than with nuts? Toasted nuts, of course – I am of the belief that toasting nuts always makes them better. I’ll use pecans if I desire a buttery flavour and almonds if I want something less rich. Although I’m very open to more nutty suggestions. Whilst certain of my love of toasting them, I do not profess to be a nut connoisseur.

And there it is…voila! Perfect Porridge. A nutritionally fabulous bowl of taste and textural delights. I ate this exact bowl, shown below, for 3 days last week. On the forth day I mixed it up with raspberries. Perfection.

I am aware that everyone has their own taste preference, so this is my perfect porridge. The way I like it – thick oats, plumped up with sweet banana and pimped-out with chia seeds (pimp my porridge?), with a refreshing burst of fruit and a welcome nutty crunch. I hope this post inspires you to add your personal favourite flavours and texture preferences, to find your perfect porridge. You might like a dash of vanilla extract with your porridge? Perhaps you prefer it without nuts? Or maybe for you it is all about fresh banana slices and grated nutmeg? In the words of Madonna, “Express Yourself”. Go ahead, pimp your porridge…do you think this has MTV potential?.

My Perfect Porridge (for one)

I am all too aware that, like my honey, banana and cinnamon combination, this bowl too may not stand the test of time. But for me, right now, even in this blistering heat, it is perfect…


40g Rolled Oats (1/3 cup I find is too little, and ½ cup is too much for me)
1 teaspoon Chia Seeds
A splash of Water
~3/4 cup Milk
(I first add ½ cup then add more as required)
1 ripe Banana – cut into dainty chunks
A dash of Pure Maple Syrup
10g Slivered Almonds
A handful of Fresh Blueberries


Put the oats and chia seeds into a heavy-based saucepan. Add a splash of water and ½ cup milk, and turn the heat on to medium. Add the dainty banana chunks and allow the pot to heat, gently coming to a simmer. Once bubbling, turn the heat down a little. Stir the oats to incorporate the banana – the occasional vigorous stir is welcome. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add in the last ¼ cup of milk – add more milk or water if the oats are looking a little dry.

Heat a separate, heavy based saucepan on medium-low heat. Once hot, turn the heat down to low and add the almonds and allow to toast. Be sure to not let them burn – shake the pan frequently. Turn off the heat once lightly golden and fragrant.

Back to the porridge, add a dash of maple syrup and continue to stir. Stir until the oats and cooked and you have thick, pudding-like porridge (this usually takes ~5 minutes).

Once cooked, pour into your favourite porridge bowl – I alternate between two little bowls I brought back seven years ago from l’Isle sur la Sorgue in Provence, France. They’re just darling, one purple with white polka-dots, the other cream with blue polka-dots. They’re perfect for yoghurt, granola, ice-cream pudding and, of course, porridge!

Top the porridge bowl with the blueberries and toasted almonds. And there you have it. Perfect Porridge. Or I should say, my Perfect Porridge.

Heidi xo

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  • Polly6034 December 5, 2010 at 10:45 am

    I'm eating porridge as I type!! Mine is porridge cooked with grated apple and chia seeds, topped with brown sugar and cinnamon. Unheard of to eat porridge in December in Brisbane, but is the perfect morning for it!

    I cook mine in the microwave though. I love the romantic notion of stirring on the stove, however I cook my porridge in between running in and out of the bathroom doing my makeup!

  • Heidi December 5, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Hi Polly! Grated apple does sound delicious, especially with cinnamon! Stove porridge is quite romantic 🙂 but yes, sometimes the microwave is splendidly accommodating to a busy morning!

    Heidi xo

  • Leah December 5, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Porridge is one of my favourite meals! Love mine cooked with dates, topped with fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of cashews and almonds! But I do love banana, and blueberry also….Plus I love to have stewed fruit, usually pear and apple in cinnamon….I could go on forever! 🙂

  • Chanel11 December 5, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Thanks for the tip with the chia seeds – I am definitely going to add that to my porridge – which incidentally is comprised of raspberries, cardamom, cloves & cinnamon, maple syrup, half full cream milk and half soy – and occasionally some pecans 🙂

  • Heidi December 5, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Leah – yes, there are so many delicious combos aren't there! I have never tried cashews though, thanks for the tip.

    Chanel – you're welcome, I hope you like the chia seeds. Such an easy way to get in some extra nutrients. They really don't have much of a flavour at all. I love the sound of your porridge! I do want to get more sophisticated with my spices, I think I'll take your lead for my next bowl 🙂

    Heidi xo

  • Michelle Chin December 5, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    I love adding honey to my porridge. Only manuka honey. Usually after they cool down a little.

  • wikigirl December 5, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Yum! Are we food twins? This is how I've been eating my oats all winter and don't intend to stop for summer 🙂 Although I like to add a few chopped prunes to the banana base as well. Also a little bit of vanilla coconut butter stirred through is so good!

  • Hannah December 5, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    I'm still on my coffee chia kaya porridge kick, but I love your flavours too. Before the CCK porridge, I'd have maple syrup and peanut butter (I think flavoured peanut butter should never have been invented) but almost never use banana as I don't tend to have them on hand regularly. Clearly I need to change this. Lovely ode to odes, Heidi!

  • Carly Findlay December 5, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    This looks great!
    thanks for sharing. I love porridge but don't spend enough time making it properly. I am going to give it a go. Thanks!

  • laurak December 5, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    what lovely porridge! chia seeds are amazing aren't they? I always try to find a way of adding them to meals..such an impressive amount of nutrients!
    Recently, I've taken to eating a teaspoon along with a mashed date before a workout…weird snack I know but I tried it once and it tasted amazing, and now I'm hooked!
    Everyone at the health shop I work at comes in looking for chia seeds, lots of people call them 'chai seeds' accidentally, hehe. Makes me wonder whether many people now mistakenly order chai lattes thinking it's the same thing!
    Laura 🙂

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella December 5, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    I don't usually eat porridge in Summer but this does look good. And I'm with you, only real maple syrup! 😉

  • Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear December 5, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    I love porridge with raspberries (microwaved) and a bit of butter.. mmmm!

  • Sonya Kate Harris December 6, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Such an inspiring post! I am ditching my microwaved instant oats, water and honey combo immediately! 😀

  • Kath December 6, 2010 at 6:04 am

    It looks fantastic!

  • Heidi December 6, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Michele – manuka honey is so good, isn't it?!

    wikigirl – vanilla coconut butter sounds delicious! I have never seen it before.

    Hannah – thank you! I really need to try your coffee chia kaya too!

    Carly – you're welcome, I hope you enjoy it!

    Laura – the mashed date and chia seeds sounds really good. and that is actually quite a good and funny point re chia lattes! 🙂

    Lorraine – yes, real maple all the way 🙂

    Anne – I've never tried porridge with butter – interesting!

    Sonya – thank you 🙂 I hope you like the different combinations!

    Kath – thanks!

    Heidi xo

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) December 6, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Oh yummo indeed! I too am a big fan of chia seeds in porridge 🙂 hehe and I love that you cut your banana into dainty chunks 🙂

  • Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets December 6, 2010 at 10:07 am

    What a delicious bunch of flavors! I love oatmeal too and start off most days with a big hot bowl. The almond slivers and blueberries are very pretty together, too.

  • Anna Johnston December 6, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Haven't had a yummy porridge for ages, but grated apple & cinnamon & real maple syrup. Heavenly…, want some now.

  • The InTolerant Chef December 6, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    No oats for me unfortunately, but it looks really good though!

  • blackbookkitchendiaries December 7, 2010 at 4:30 am

    wow your photos are just gorgeous.. porridge reminds me of my grandma she makes me a bowl every morning when i was little. they are very comforting and delicious. thanks for sharing this.

  • Jennifer (Delicieux) December 7, 2010 at 8:54 am

    I'm not usually a porridge type, but this looks delicious…I love the blueberries and maple syrup. *laughs* "Pimp my porridge" love it!

  • msihua December 7, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Lols.. I loved reading this.. having never had porridge (Western) before.. My first encounter with this is when I moved over here.. until then, the word porridge is synonomous with what Westerners know as congee. So imagine my shock and horror when I found out it was oats.. with FRUIT! Lols… I'm not sure if I'm game to try it as yet tho 😛

  • Heidi December 8, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Lisa – thanks, I was rather pleased when I came up with the description, "dainty chunks" 🙂

    Xiaolu – thanks!

    Anna – it does sound good, doesn't it!?

    InTolerant Chef – thank you!

    Blackbookkitchendiaries – you're welcome! I love that you enjoyed the post!

    Jennifer – hehe, thanks – glad you liked the pimp reference 🙂

    Msihua – I struggle with congee!! I have only had it a few times though. With meat. Can't seem to love it…yet!

    Heidi xo

  • Josie December 22, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Love it!! It actually is really similar to another great oatmeal/porridge recipe that I found a few months back and have fallen obsessively in love with since! Even on summer days it hits the spot 😀

    Try it! (Whipped Banana Oatmeal)

  • Heidi December 23, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Hi Josie! Thanks for the recipe link, I'll check it out – I love Kath's blog. & yes, porridge so hits the spot 🙂

    Heidi xo

  • Anonymous January 18, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I love porrige with LSA (ground almonds, sunflowers and linseeds) and honey. So filling and delicious

  • zoepitchi May 29, 2011 at 12:42 am

    This is indeed the perfect way to cook porridge, you have converted me! I made my own version ( with apple and cinnamon because bananas are ridiculously expensive right now. Makes it easier to get up on these cold mornings 🙂

  • Ly April 15, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Never got round to saying a big thank you for this recipe until now. I have it with dollop of crunchy macadamia butter instead of almonds and with just a sprinkling of cinnamon it’s my idea of the perfect basic porridge too.

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  • Jade June 28, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    Another porridge fan!! I can’t get enough of porridge for brekky (or lunch or dinner…)
    I went through a ‘fad’ where my topping was tahini, sliced banana & sprinkled with pepita’s & shaved coconut… and of course pure maple syrup! Honestly the drizzle of tahini on top tastes amazing!! I do love changing it up though, cant wait to try some of your variations 🙂