World Porridge Day 2023: Porridge For All Age Groups
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Talking about the most popular breakfasts, we just can’t miss talking about porridge. Porridge could be made from a wide range of grains, including oats, rice, cornmeal, barley, quinoa, and more. Each type of grain brings its unique flavor and texture, allowing for diversity in taste and nutrition. This humble dish offers a white canvas and you can play with different flavours. One can add fruits, nuts, seeds, sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, sugar, and spices like cinnamon, and nutmeg along with dairy or non-dairy milk. 

This humble dish is loaded with health benefits too. It is typically made from whole grains like oats which is a good source of dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins such as B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Besides, whole-grain porridge is high in dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber that can help regulate blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol levels, and promote a feeling of fullness. Porridge provides a steady release of energy due to its complex carbohydrates and fiber content. 

The soluble fiber in porridge can help lower bad cholesterol levels, which is beneficial for heart health. Porridge's high fiber content can contribute to a feeling of fullness, potentially reducing overall calorie intake. Best part? Porridge is often well-tolerated and easy to digest, making it a suitable option for individuals with sensitive stomachs or digestive issues. Let us tell you that porridge has been a dependable staple in Africa and Europe especially because of its nutritional. 

Porridge For All Age Groups

Porridge is indeed a superfood for all age groups. But if you are curious about how to add porridge to the diet, we have something for you. Recently, Slurrp caught up with Dr Shilpa Vora, Chief R&D Officer from Marico Ltd., and asked for her expert advice. On being asked about how parents can introduce porridge to toddlers and young children, Dr Shilpa Vora said toddlers and young children need a high amount of energy and proteins due to the increased requirements of their growing bodies and minds.  

She added, “A balanced diet including cereals and millets, healthy fats, proteins, preferably plant proteins, fruits, and veggies is very important to meet the high demands. Porridges can be a great source of energy, protein, and other nutrients for growing children. Their soft texture helps the kids to consume them easily. Porridges can be savoury added with mild spices or natural sweeteners like honey or jaggery and fruits like berries, bananas, and avocados for flavours. Sweet porridges when made with enough milk, nuts, and other seeds added with little sweetener make for great breakfast options. For toddlers, small quantities can be given several times a day to meet the energy requirements. Porridges can be made with different cereals and millets (best when germinated) and can be mixed with easy-to-digest pulses for complete protein quality and the addition of ghee can be a source of good fats". 

“Porridges for elders can be like those for children”, said Dr Vora on being asked about the variations of porridge suitable for older adults. She said that selecting whole grains, cereals, and millet as a base and adding pulses, seeds, and other protein sources will help them maintain the depleting protein content to repair muscle loss. Adding soft fruits can be a resort to add natural sweetness. Plant-based milk from nuts and soya also can be used to help increase the protein from plant sources.

She said, “The porridges can be further blended into custards, kheers, purees, ice creams, and loose khichdis which increases the convenience for consumption. Blending the porridges to make cheelas and dosas and can be enjoyed with mild flavourful chutneys”. Dr Shilpa Vora said that a balanced breakfast is a healthy way to kick-start the day and helps to set the mood and energy for the day. Whole grain cereals are a rich source of complex fiber, b vitamins, and proteins which help not only to provide nutritious energy but also help manage mood and stress early in the day. A sweet porridge with fruits like berries may be a good source of antioxidants. Savoury porridge also can be mixed with select vegetables of choice to make them not only flavourful and tasty but also a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals. 

Talking about how people suffering from dietary restrictions, like gluten intolerance, can enjoy porridge, Dr Shilpa Vora said that people with gluten intolerance can opt for millet millets like ragi, jowar bajra, etc. which are gluten-free and yet be a good source of essential nutrients. Millets can also be made into sweet and savoury porridges by mixing with pulses and soya flour or granules to increase the protein content. Appropriate flavours for sweet like vanilla, fruity flavours, and spices, or citric for savoury types can be added to make them more acceptable. Dairy-intolerant people can opt for nut milk or soy milk for sweet porridge options.

While sharing her opinion on creative toppings and mix-ins to make porridge more appealing for various age groups, Dr Shilpa Vora said that fruits come naturally as a healthy and accessible topping for sweet porridges. Fruit crushes of berries, strawberries, or syrups also can be used for varied tastes. Crushed roasted or toasted nuts and nut butter like peanut butter also provide a distinct flavour. Herbs can be good toppings for savoury porridges. Burnt garlic and chilies and different flavourful toppings take the overall experience to the next level.