Pregnancy Power Porridge
A legitimate porridge mania has taken over Melbourne this winter. At first, I thought it was just me who was addicted and that it was my pregnancy making me crave it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but after lengthy conversations with both friends and strangers about favourite porridge toppings and our deep love and appreciation for the humble oat, I learnt that I am not alone in my addiction. It's a thing. And what a wonderful thing it is.
I have a few different variations on rotation, but this version has been my most faithful through my second pregnancy, both because I crave it and because this combination of ingredients packs a powerful nutritional punch. Oats are high in iron, and one of the biggest nutritional struggles for pregnant people is getting enough iron, so starting the day with oats is never a bad idea.
According to the cronometer, which is my go-to site when I want to find out the nutritional profile of a particular food or recipe, this particular combination of oats, seeds and berries contains 20% of my daily required iron. That's the same amount of iron I would get from a serving of steak, but with this brekky I'm getting a whole lot of fibre and omega fatty acids as well. Here's a little bit of (pregnancy specific) info about each individual component so you can see why this recipe deserves its title of Pregnancy Power Porridge.
Oats - as already mentioned, they are high in iron and pregnant people need a lot of extra iron because of all the extra blood they are carrying. Oats are also high in fibre, which is helpful (but not guaranteed) for avoiding hemmorhoids.
Chia Seeds and Hemp Seeds - both contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are important for the development of baby's brain, eyesight and central nervous system, as well as maintaining the overall wellbeing of the gestational parent.
Vanilla, Cinnamon and Nutmeg - ok so the vanilla is just in there because it's delicious, but cinnamon is good for digestion which can get mighty sluggish once all those organs start getting squished to make room for baby. Nutmeg is good for gum health, which is super important during pregnancy as gums become more sensitive to plaque, which can in turn cause swelling, bleeding and gingivitis.
Soy Milk - high in protein, low in cholesterol and saturated fat, and lends a delicious creaminess to the oats. You can substitute for any other plant milk, however it's important to note here that calcium inhibits the absorption of iron, so in cases where you are eating this with hopes of giving your daily iron intake a boost, it's important to use a milk that hasn't been fortified with calcium.
Berries - when iron is coming from plants (as opposed to animals) it's important to consume it with vitamin c to ensure adequate absorption. Berries are high in vitamin c, as well as folate, fibre and antioxidants, which every tired, baby-growing person can benefit from. I was using organic frozen berries throughout the winter (they just taste so much better than non-organic), but strawberries have just started to float into the supermarkets and my new favourite combo is strawberries and blueberries. Just go with your faves and give them a wash first if they aren't organic.
Maple Syrup - If adding a sweetener, maple syrup is my preferred option, both nutritionally (hello Zinc) and flavour-wise. It needs to be the real deal here, not the 'maple flavoured' kind which has zero nutritional value whatsoever, but do keep in mind that it is still a sugar so dousing your porridge in it is not exactly 'healthy'. If I am topping my oats with banana instead of berries, I sometimes like to use coconut sugar (although banana-maple is a dream combo if ever there was one). Other times, I will chop up a few dates and add these in when I am cooking the porridge. They break down and sweeten the porridge which means you don't need to add any sweetener to serve. Unless you want to of course!
Something else worth noting is that caffeine inhibits the absorption of iron, so eating this or taking supplements at the same time as your morning brew is not a good idea. I have my tea really early in the morning and then a couple of hours later I make this and drink it with a cup of nettle tea which is another excellent source of iron.
Without further ado, here is my recipe for my most craved breakfast of all time. It goes without saying that this is just as good for you if you are not pregnant.
1/2 cup oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder
Pinch of nutmeg
1 cup water
1/2 cup soy milk
Berries, soy milk and maple syrup to serve
Place oats, seeds, spices and water in a small saucepan over a high heat. Stir to combine, then once boiling, lower to a simmer and give it the occasional stir. Once the porridge starts to thicken, add the soy milk and continue to cook, stirring every now and again, until it's thick and creamy. If you forget about it for a moment while you are taking care of other morning duties and it sticks to the bottom of the pot a little, worry not. Simply remove it from the heat and let it sit for a couple of minutes, the bits stuck to the bottom of the pot will easily come away.
Transfer to a bowl and top with berries, additional soy milk and maple syrup to taste. Easy peasy! Enjoy.
An important note:
While I have a keen interest in the subject of food and how it relates to our wellbeing, I am not a nutritionist, nor do I have any qualifications in nutrition. Every nutritional claim I share here it simply regurgitated information, and while I collect and share such information with care, it should not be taken as gospel.