How to Make Porridge More Palatable

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Maybe you love your morning oatmeal, or maybe you don't. Either way, here are some ideas for jazzing it up.

Let's make one thing clear. I am not a fan of morning oatmeal. Nevertheless, there are still days when I make a diligent effort to choke it down. It's one of the few foods that sticks in my belly and staves off hunger for a few hours, and it helps to fuel my heavy lifting sessions at the gym.

To get it down, though, I must use a few tricks – none of this "eat it plain" nonsense that my husband engages in. My oatmeal is usually tossed with cinnamon, maple syrup, and frozen berries, and topped with whipping cream. But lately even that's been getting old. I'm wondering if there are other ways to dress it up, to turn this old-fashioned frugal standby into something even more palatable.

That's when I stumbled across Food52's marvelous list of '20 Instant Ways to Make Any Oatmeal 20 Times Better.' Twenty times better is a big claim, but after reading this recipe and trying out some of the variations, I have to say it's not off the mark. The article (and its commenting readers) have some great suggestions that include adding the following:

  • Fat – olive oil, butter, tahini, peanut butter, coconut oil
  • Dairy – cream, Greek yogurt, crème fraîche, cottage cheese, vanilla ice cream (if you're feeling decadent)
  • Fruit – Jam, pear butter, chopped apples, banana slices, dried pineapple, raisins, canned pumpkin, dates, fresh berries
  • Toppings – Seeds (like chia, sesame, sunflower, hemp, pumpkin), mixed nuts, flaked chocolate
  • Spices: Cinnamon, cardamom, cocoa powder, ground or candied ginger
  • A note from personal experience: I think adding texture is important, as it breaks up the boring mushiness of the cooked oats and makes it feel more interesting in one's mouth.

    A sprinkling of flaky salt is highly recommended, too, although I haven't tried this myself. The whole notion of a savory oatmeal bowl is a bit much for me to handle, although the Food52 article has plenty of suggestions for that, if you're a morning pecorino-and-pepper type.