Posts Tagged ‘Porridge’

As you already know, I have recently embarked on an “eat seasonally” ideology.  And as greatly moral as this is, it can be harder than it sounds in a place such as Gibraltar where firstly there isn’t any land to cultivate and grow produce – therefore relying on imported produce – and secondly but more specifically, we don’t really have four seasons. 

We go from hot to wet to warm again!

But who’s complaining?! Considering the glorious summers we enjoy in this region that can sometimes start as early as late April and last well into early November; it is not hard to understand why there can be an abundance of colourful fruits and vegetables on sale at our local grocers and markets; especially towards the end of summer and triumphantly ending their season in autumn.

Last to be picked off their trees and vines, and having soaked up every last ounce of summer sun, flesh ripened into sweet nectar; skins full to bursting – it is the purple, deep red to blue-black fruits and vegetables that make their prominence known within these autumn months.

Purple foods have become a hot produce colour of late (cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, pomegranate molasses, to name but a few).  They contain a phytochemical called anthocyanin, which is responsible to help fight free radicals and some cancers but may also protect against heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer.  Purple foods are good at preventing age-related memory loss, keeping the eyes and urinary tract healthy and lowering the risk of gum disease and stomach ulcers.

My Purple Plum Crumble is a remarkably easy dessert to make; my nephew’s favourite, and quintessentially autumnal.  The scents of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting through the house make this the perfect autumn pudding.

Plum Crumble

plum crumble


  • 12 fresh plums, cut in half and stone removed
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • A few raspings of fresh nutmeg
  • A splosh of red wine or water
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar

For the Crumble:

  • 100g butter
  • 180-200g plain flour
  • 100g Demerara sugar

Make the crumble first: In a food processor pulse the butter and plain flour (this can be done by hand by fluttering the butter and flour between your fingers and thumb) until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add the Demerara sugar to the mixture and place into the fridge.

1st: Preheat the oven to 200˚C.


2nd: Sauté the plums for a few minutes in a hot frying pan with the butter and sugar.

3rd:  Add the vanilla, star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon, golden syrup and red wine (I sometimes substitute the wine for port or a mix of water and wine or just water).  Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 6 – 8mins.

4th: Once the plums have broken down into a thick, syrupy texture, place into an oven dish and cover with the crumble mixture.

(Optional Extra: add flaked almonds to the crumble mix).

5th: Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins or until golden brown.

6th: Allow to cool slightly before serving with double cream or cold vanilla ice-cream or both!

Here are other simple ways to eat purple foods:

  • I have previously extolled the virtues of porridge in Oat to A Good Start – so add a handful of blueberries or blackberries to this superfood to make it a super breakfast
  • Beetroot hummus and pita bread
  • Add aubergine to the meat mixture for Spaghetti Bolognese or Lasagne
  • Use pomegranate when making lamb tagines
  • Make a mixed berry compote to go over pana cotta
  • Blitz Greek style yoghurt with frozen berries and freeze for an easy ice-cream

I apologise if the mantra ‘Eat the Rainbow’ sounds totally naff; almost as if I’m stealing the Skittles motto but if a handful of blueberries in my brekkie are going to help me against all sorts of ailments then bring them on by the punnet-load!

Alternatively, a cheeky glass of red wine a day is also high in antioxidants!


When you see it in little white bowls in Starbucks and conversation turns to whether it’s best made on the hob or in the microwave, or whether you favour it hot or cold, or what topping you prefer on yours – you know that porridge is back!

Porridge has been around for yonks but in recent years has lost out to cold, cardboard tasting cereals in colourful packaging of fun promising toys and treats.

But before this revival, porridge was an austerity food, associated with prisons and workhouses.  It was the focus for Dickens’,

  “Please Sir, I want some more.”

An offense for which the workhouse Governors wanted Oliver to hang.  Imagine that – hanged for wanting more porridge!  Goldilocks also caused a furore in the Bear household for trying Papa Bear’s and Mama Bear’s porridge and finishing Baby Bear’s porridge which was, “Just right.”

Historically, the Ancient Greeks and Romans found the grain inedible and dubbed it ‘barbarian’s food’ and fed it to their animals.  Samuel Johnson subsequently mocked it as, “a grain which in England is given to horses but in Scotland supports the people.”  Apparently he only said this to annoy the Scots.

Porridge has always been associated with cold winter mornings where cupping bowl in hand, you feel its warmth spread through your hibernation-broken body.  It is one of the most spirit-lifting ways to start the day; a huge hug in a bowl.

Nowadays we can cook our porridge oats in 3 microwavable minutes.  No longer do we need to remain stove-side, spurtle in hand stirring in a sunwise direction, for 20-30mins until each pearly grain releases its sweet starch.  I mean, come on, who has 30 free minutes to stir porridge before work on a school day?!

“In our recessionary world, porridge is a cheap and easy breakfast.”

Here are five reasons why you should take the oat oath and switch your breakfast to these wholesome whole grains:

Oats boast an impressive nutritional profile: high in fibre they help protect our bodies from any number of potential health problems. They are also packed full of minerals and vitamins which support healthy bones.

Oats fill you up: only 147 calories per cup of plain cooked oats.  When you eat oats, your body will digest and absorb them slowly, keeping you feeling full, controlling your appetite and keeping hunger pangs at bay.

Oats may help reduce cholesterol: yielding a high proportion of soluble fibre they create a gel-like fibre which transits your intestinal tract helping to trap substances associated with high blood cholesterol.

Oats are diabetes friendly:  In the same way that fibre in oats helps to stave off hunger, it also helps to steady the glucose levels in the bloodstream.

Oats support healthy digestion: the insoluble fibre in oats scrubs through the intestines, moving food along and helping to prevent constipation.

So next time you go shopping for breakfast – why not give oats a try?