Since the weather has just dropped, it's time to talk about one of our all time favourite winter, breaky (or if you're crazy like me, then dinner) meals - PORRIDGE!

rolled oats

I've often spoken about the fact that good food doesn't have to be complicated, or sourced from a rare Amazonian bean, to be healthy and good for you! I'm a big advocate for keeping things simple most of the time, getting the basics right and then adding certain extras from time to time.

Oats a great example of this. They really are one of nature's super foods! Below I have provided some tips, tricks and health benefits so you too, can gain a greater respect for the humble super food.

1. Oats are best consumed in their original state.  Buy plain (organic), rolled oats.  Forget the quick oats which are processed further and therefore contain less of the original nutrients (such as magnesium) and fibre; and tend to also contain unnecessary, added sugars for taste and flavouring.

2. I like to prepare my oats the night before. Simply put 1/2 - 1 cup of oats in a glass bowl, pour over boiling water (yep, water, not milk)  until covered, and set aside. If you're strapped for time in the mornings, then do this in a glass jar with a lid, throw it in your bag the next day, and voila, you have a healthy, quick breaky to go!

3. Soaking oats helps to break down the starches and phytic acid which improves their digestibility. You may find that if you typically get a bit bloated from eating oats, this trick may help.

4. Ditch the boring porridge!  I like to add chia seeds, plus either some almonds of sunflower seeds to soak with my oats. This provides a nice boost of fibre, protein and essential fats as well, and helps to keep you fuller for longer, too!

5. The next morning, you can either eat them cold like I often do, or add about 1/2 cup of milk of your choice (I use almond or coconut) and gently heat it on the stove ( I don't own or use a microwave).

6. Rather than adding honey or sugar (or rice malt syrup, palm sugar or which ever sugar is meant to be 'healthier'), I like to add a mix of fresh fruits such as half a banana, berries, sliced apple, figs .... or whatever is in season at the time. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, sprinkle on some cinnamon or cacao for something different.

whole food porridge

7.  What about gluten? The suitability for oats in people with coeliac disease is controversial. Many oats brands are contaminated with gluten (from wheat)  due to manufacturing processes, in which case, these are definitely not suitable for a coeliac.

For non-coeliac gluten-sensitivity, the gluten-free oats may be tolerated. Oats actually contain a gluten-like protein called avenin.  It is typically this component that can produce the digestive upsets that people attribute to having gluten/wheat/grain sensitivity.

My advice to try a small amount, making sure you soak it (as per #3), and if it sits well with you, then it's ok to consume.

** Please note that if you have an auto-immune condition, I would not recommend oats and would also typically remove grains until your condition is under control.

8. Oats are a rich source of beta-glucans which are type of soluble fibre. The research on the benefits of beta-glucans is increasing and we know that it has some amazing benefits for: supporting the immune system by regulating and stimulating immune cell activity; heart health by reducing total cholesterol and helping your LDL:HDL ratio.

If you're on a gluten-free or grain free diet, mushrooms (in particular shiitakes) and yeast (brewer's and baker's yeasts) are also sources of beta-glucans.

And there you have it!  Some of my top tips and ticks for SUPER OATS!