This delicious and nourishing cherry porridge recipe is what healthy mornings are made of! As always, we’ve put a unique twist on a classic by adding our special immunity mushroom blend. This combination of eight medicinal mushrooms is a fabulous way to enhance the dish and naturally boost your immune system. What more could you want from your breakfast?
From gruel to health food: the history of porridge
The humble bowl of porridge has gone through quite an evolution in human history. Archaeological evidence indicates that humans could have been consuming oats since the Stone Age, some 32,000 years ago.(1) People ground these wild oats into flour, which they may have boiled or baked into flatbreads. Experts believe the earliest example of what we think of as porridge – wheat cooked with milk – comes from Scotland. Neolithic communities might have tucked into a type of porridge recipe as far back as 3600 BCE.(2) Meanwhile, in Asia, the first rice porridge recipe likely originated in around 1000 BCE. Dishes like porridge may have been instrumental in the shift from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settled agricultural communities. However, people probably didn’t use oats in a porridge recipe until much later. The Romans originally cultivated the crop to feed to animals. Oats likely weren’t part of the human diet until medieval times. During this period, they became a staple form of sustenance for the working classes in Scotland and Switzerland.(3) The grain was hardy enough to grow in the harsh climates of these countries, and porridge made a cheap but filling meal. Charles Dickens later immortalised this idea of porridge (specifically a thinner version called gruel) as a food for the lower classes in Oliver Twist. However, porridge’s image got something of a makeover after that. Today, nutrition experts recommend numerous versions of the classic porridge recipe as nourishing breakfasts for all of us. And it’s easy to see why. Porridge is quick and simple to make, offers plenty of opportunities for customisation, and keeps you satiated all morning. Not to mention, the dish is bursting with potential health benefits. Let’s look at some of those in more detail.
The surprising health benefits of porridge
The exact health benefits you can expect to enjoy from a porridge recipe depend on what you put in it. However, many of them are universal thanks to the nutritional value of the dish’s principal ingredient: oats. This unassuming cereal grain might not look like much, but it packs a serious punch when it comes to nutrition. For example, oats are rich in polyphenols, which defend our cells by acting as antioxidants. Among the most notable of these polyphenols is a variety known as avenanthramides. Studies have found that avenanthramides can lower blood pressure by encouraging the production of nitric oxide.(4) This molecule helps to relax and dilate blood vessels, improving blood flow. Avenanthramides also have anti-inflammatory properties, further protecting against chronic disease. Moreover, oats contain a form of soluble fibre called beta-glucan. This can have a number of positive effects on our wellbeing. First, it may support the health of your heart by reducing cholesterol levels.(5) It could also help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar.(6) Choosing a porridge recipe for breakfast might therefore be especially beneficial for those with diabetes. On top of this, beta-glucan – along with other types of fibre in oats – acts as a prebiotic. That means it can nourish the good bacteria in your gut, while inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria.(7) This is key because the health of your gut could influence everything from immunity to cognitive function. Finally, starting your day with your favourite porridge recipe might be helpful for maintaining a healthy weight. Oats can leave you feeling fuller for longer, enhancing satiety and reducing appetite.(8) As such, porridge may be effective in tackling and preventing obesity.
Fruity and filling: our scrumptious cherry porridge recipe
Like any good porridge recipe, this one is straightforward to make and only takes around ten minutes. To begin, add your oats to a saucepan along with about one and a half cups of almond milk. Feel free to use a different variety of plant-based milk if you prefer. For instance, coconut milk brings a lovely tropical vibe to any porridge recipe! Next, pop in a teaspoon of honey. To keep this a strictly vegan porridge recipe, you can use agave nectar or maple syrup as a sweetener instead. Then in goes the vanilla extract, sea salt, cubed banana, and peanut butter. Swapping the latter for another type of nut butter – such as almond or cashew – is a great option for mixing up the flavour. Finally, add two teaspoons of our organic immunity mushroom blend to the pan. This infuses the porridge recipe with a mild, earthy taste that really sets it apart. Plus, it’s a wonderful way to support your body’s natural defences. More on that later! Bring your porridge recipe to a boil, then simmer the mixture on a low heat for about 3-5 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s achieved a gorgeously creamy texture. Then turn the heat off and stir in half a cup of fresh pitted cherries. Now it's time to transfer the porridge to your serving bowls. The final step is to garnish your porridge recipe. Add the rest of the cherries, then top the bowls with a decadent swirl of honey or agave nectar. Next, sprinkle on a tablespoon or two of your favourite chopped nuts to give the porridge some crunch. Finish the dish off with a couple of teaspoons of cocoa nibs for a hint of chocolate, and enjoy!
The cherry on top
One of the most important parts of any porridge recipe is what you choose to add to the base. Not only do these extra ingredients influence the flavour, they also affect how healthy the dish is. We’ve chosen cherries as the principal ingredient in this porridge recipe because they both taste delicious and boost your wellbeing. Plus, the fruit brings a beautiful splash of colour to the bowl! First, just like oats, cherries are bursting with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds such as anthocyanins.(9) These are hugely beneficial because both oxidative stress and chronic inflammation contribute to a number of harmful health conditions. That includes arthritis, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Speaking of the heart, cherries could further protect cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.(10) This is in part thanks to the fruit’s high potassium content. Including this mineral in your diet can decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke. Adding cherries to your porridge recipe may be particularly useful for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. That’s because they can help to enhance your recovery after working out. Studies suggest that the fruit could reduce post-exercise muscle damage and soreness, and even boost athletic performance.(11) Interestingly, cherries could additionally work to improve the quality of your sleep.(12) The main reason for this is that the fruit contains a phytochemical called melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Research has found that cherries may enhance both the quality and duration of our sleep. This can be true even in people with disturbed sleep or insomnia. And don’t worry – adding them to your morning porridge recipe won’t make you drowsy during the day!
How medicinal mushrooms support immunity
It’s time to turn to the star ingredient of this porridge recipe: the immunity mushroom blend. At this point, you might be wondering exactly how mushrooms can help your immune system. Well, these aren’t just any old supermarket mushrooms. They’re medicinal mushrooms, which offer specific wellness-boosting properties above and beyond their nutritional value. Let’s get into the details. One of the principal reasons that functional fungi are beneficial for immunity is their high levels of beta-glucans. These potent polysaccharides may be able to activate certain types of immune cells, including macrophages and natural killer cells.(13) This could help to protect against infection. Moreover, as a prebiotic, medicinal mushrooms encourage the growth of good bacteria in your gut. This is important because many of our immune cells are located in the gut, and interact with the bacteria there. As such, what we eat has a direct impact on the health of our immune system.(14) Another way in which medicinal mushrooms can have a positive influence on immunity is through their adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens enable our minds and bodies to cope with stress more effectively. Chronic stress has a number of negative effects, including causing inflammation, inhibiting recovery, and suppressing the immune system. It can leave us more susceptible to infection and disease, plus make it harder for the body to defend itself. Therefore, adding adaptogens like medicinal mushrooms to your porridge recipe could further help to support immunity. There are several different types of functional fungi which may have a positive influence on the immune system. To make things easier, we’ve created a special blend of eight medicinal mushrooms known for their immune-supporting potential. Here’s why it’s the perfect choice for your porridge recipe.