Porridge a perfect winter warmer
After years spent on the outskirts of the culinary world, porridge is trendy, tasty and, above all, lump-free.
This winter, it's the top of the breakfast menu in many Christchurch cafes, each looking to one-up the competition with new and inventive flavour combinations.
While the classic porridge with milk and brown sugar is still a popular choice, these days toppings can be wild.
Christchurch porridge company Posh Porridge provides porridge at the Christchurch Farmers Market every Saturday. Its toppings include lime curd, fresh fruit, fig and ginger compote, coconut crumble, toffee sauce, and roasted nuts.
Owner Becs Elkins says in the past couple of years porridge has gone from zero to hero.
"It's definitely seen to be quite cool with younger people," she says. "It's 80 per cent healthy, 20 per cent indulgent."
Elkins says her customers come from all walks of life and age groups. For many, it's their weekly treat at the market and business is booming.
The most common kind of porridge is made from oats. For many people, this is the kind they make at home.
However, not all oats are created equal. There are rolled oats, wholegrain oats, steel-cut oats, oatmeal and Scottish oats. Each has its own merits.
Nutritionist and Pure Cafe Co owner Di MCauley says porridge is "loaded" with nutritional benefits.
"Porridge has become the new healthy power breakfast," she says. "Heading into winter, porridge is as much a superfood as comfort food." Oats are full of B vitamins, are high in fibre and lower cholesterol.
Pure and Posh both serve steel-cut oat porridge, where the inner oats are cut into two or three instead of being flattened like rolled oats. Steel-cut are good for controlling blood sugar and leave porridge lovers feeling full for longer.
For those with gluten allergies, Pure also serves millet and brown rice porridge.
However you have it, not all porridge is created equal.
To make the oats smoother, try soaking them in water overnight before cooking them, or cook them long and slow in a crockpot.
Elkins cooks her oats slowly and recommends using a pinch of salt to improve flavour.
If you're after something richer, try replacing half the water amount with milk or cream. Add dried fruit while cooking to make it juicier.
Check out your favourite Christchurch cafe or market stall this winter and see which has the best flavour combinations and cooking techniques.