Nicola Galloway: Warming, belly-filling breakfasts for cold mornings

Our food blogger Nicola Galloway shares her go-to porridge recipe, as well as a delicious grab-and-go breakfast snack

Words and images: Nicola Galloway

It is during the chilly mornings around this time of year that I am grateful for my forethought to stock the freezer with fresh summer berries. They are often cheaper to buy when fresh, especially if you can find seconds and freeze the excess.

For small berries, I clean and dry on a tea towel (use a dark-coloured one to avoid stains) then tumble them straight into a free-flow freezer bag. As long as they aren’t too soft or bruised they won’t clump together. If they are softer, or for large berries such as strawberries that need to be sliced, freeze them on a tray first, then once frozen transfer them to a bag.

As we are away from the days of summer and fresh berries, morning breakfasts are still focused on belly-warming offerings. Porridge is one that is on regular rotation. I love that it is one of those meals that doesn’t really require a recipe, and a small amount of rolled oats goes a long way.

This is how I make a pot of porridge:

Per person, add a handful of rolled oats to a saucepan. Add enough milk – or a mixture of milk and water – to cover the oats by roughly three times the quantity. Keep the milk at the ready to add more as the oats cook and begin to slurp up the liquid.

If you haven’t already, add a generous pinch of salt – don’t be stingy here as it really makes the porridge taste the best. Cook, adding extra milk as needed, until the oats are soft and to the consistency you like. The timing here will depend on the type of oats used, small (quick-cook) porridge oats will cook faster, about 8-10 minutes. While wholegrain oats will take about double the time.

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To speed up the cooking you can pre-soak the rolled oats overnight. Add the required amount to a pan, add enough boiling water to cover and some, and leave to soak with the lid on overnight. Pre-soaking will reduce the cooking time by about a third.

The following additions can be added for extra texture and taste. Per person:
1-2 teaspoons flaxseeds or chia seeds
tablespoon of chopped dried fruit – dates, prunes (yum), raisins, currants
pinch of spice – cinnamon, mixed spice, ground ginger

To serve, choose from the following, or add your own favourites:
Cream or milk
Brown sugar, maple syrup, apple sauce, or honey – optional
Berry compote using the above-mentioned frozen berries cooked with a splash of water and sweetener to taste until soft and syrupy.
Preserved fruit – plums, apricots, peaches
Knob of butter – an optional but quite traditional addition


We also enjoy these small porridge cakes. They are not too sweet, with added protein from eggs and chia seeds, and added fruit to suit. This is based on a similar recipe from my latest cookbook, The Homemade Table, for a Baked Porridge in one large dish. This is a smaller transportable version which can be batch cooked ahead of time for a quick weekday grab-and-go breakfast or lunchbox filler. Any fruit can be used: swap out the mashed banana for a large grated apple. The berries can be mixed and matched, and in summer, chopped fresh stone fruit would be a great addition. (Use 1 ½ cups total).

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25-30 minutes
Makes 12

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1 very ripe banana
2 free-range eggs
3 tbsp brown sugar + extra for sprinkling
60g melted butter or 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1½ cups (375ml) milk
1½ cups (180g) rolled oats
½ cup (50g) desiccated coconut or ground almonds
3 tbsp chia seeds or ground flaxseeds*
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
Generous pinch of salt
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blackberries or other berries

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C). Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases.
In a large mixing bowl, mash the banana until smooth. Add the eggs, sugar and melted butter or oil. Mix to combine then whisk in the milk.
To the bowl add the oats, coconut or ground almonds, chia seeds, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Mix to combine into a wet mixture. Set aside for 10 minutes for the oats and chia seeds to absorb some of the liquid and thicken the batter.
Spoon into the 12 muffin cases filling to just below the top. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. The cakes will feel quite soft at this stage but will set more as they cool.
Cool on a rack. The cakes can be eaten warm or cold, for a quick breakfast, snack or add to lunchboxes.
Store the muffins in a sealed container in the fridge, or a cool pantry, and consume within 3 days.

*If you haven’t got chia/flaxseeds reduce the milk to 1 ¼ cups total.

Nicola Galloway is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author and culinary tutor. Find more seasonal recipes on her website


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