Whole Grain Porridge
These 5 whole-grain porridge recipes are packed with plant-based protein, takes just a few minutes to prepare, and can be customized with your favorite toppings.
- 5 recipes that can be made with grains like steel-cut oats, freekeh, quinoa, amaranth, teff, millet, kamut, farro, brown rice or buckwheat
- all recipes are vegan
- can be gluten-free depending on the grain you use
- can be sugar-free depending on the sweetening options
- customize with various add-ins and flavours
What is a Whole Grain?
A whole grain is a grain of any cereal and pseudocereal that still contains its three original parts, the endosperm, germ, and bran, in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm.
For more information, read my guide to whole grains.
Should I Soak Whole Grains?
The simple answer is yes. Grains are seeds and seeds are meant to pass through the digestive system relatively unfazed so they can be planted elsewhere. Because of this, seeds contain anti-nutrients such as phytic acid that make them difficult to digest.
Do you have to soak whole grains? No.
Why Soak Whole Grains?
- when we eat un-soaked grains, the phytic acid binds to minerals in the GI tract so they can’t be absorbed by the body.
- soaking essentially starts the sprouting process, breaking down much of the pyhtic acid, improving digestibility and the bioavailability the nutrients
- grains, nuts and legumes also contain enzyme inhibitors which also interfere with normal digestion
- we need enzymes throughout the digestive process to help break down food, soaking can also help to break down enzyme inhibitors to help improve digestion
How to Soak Grains
- Place the grain in a glass bowl or jar and cover with filtered warm water. For every 1 cup of liquid you’ll need 1 tbsp of acid medium. You can use apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice.
- Most grains need to be soaked for 12-24 hours however buckwheat, brown rice and millet have a lower phytic acid level and only need about 8 hours.
- Cover the bowl or jar with a clean dish cloth and place a rubber band around it.
- Once they’ve soaked for the required time, drain them and proceed with cooking, noting that cooking time will be less than non-soaked grains.
Best Grains for Porridge
You can use any whole grain for making porridge. Most people are familiar with the classics like oats and brown rice but freekeh, farro and buckwheat groats are also wonderful options.
Let’s take a quick run down of these amazing, nutritious grains. You’ve probably heard of some of them but the lesser known ones are fun to try as a versatile alternatives to favourites like brown rice, quinoa and oats.
Each of these grains has its own unique flavour, texture and nutritional profile and enjoying them on rotation is a great way to get some nutritional diversity in your diet and like we talked above, diversity in your diet can help the microbiome flourish.
List of Grains for Porridge
- Cracked Freekeh: Has a firm and slightly chewy texture and a distinct nutty and earthy flavour, prebiotic, great source of protein, iron, calcium and zinc.
- Amaranth (Gluten-Free): A very fine grain that results in a creamy consistency much like grits or cream of wheat.
- Teff (Gluten-Free): A very small, fine grain that results in a porridge similar to amaranth in texture, something like polenta or cream of wheat.
- Millet (Gluten-Free): A quick-cooking, ancient seed grain that has a mild and slightly sweet flavour. Great for porridge!
- Quinoa (Gluten-Free): Has a mild, nutty flavour, isn’t too chewy or too soft, good source of complete protein, high in magnesium, manganese, riboflavin, lysine and iron. Try this breakfast quinoa!
- Sorghum (Gluten-Free): A good way to enjoy the nutrition of whole grains on a gluten-free diet. Excellent source of fiber, has a hearty, chewy texture similar to wheat berries.
- Kamut Berries: Chewy texture and rich, butter flavour that’s delicious in porridge. Good source of selenium, zinc, magnesium and iron. High in protein, containing 7 grams of protein per serving, and a good source of dietary fiber. Kamut has a bit of a longer cooking time but soaking it overnight can reduce that to speed things up.
- Farro: An ancient relative of modern-day wheat, farro is hearty and chewy with a rich, nutty flavour. A good source of iron, protein and fiber. Try it in my 5-minute breakfast farro bowls.
- Brown Rice (Gluten-Free): Delicious for whole grain porridge, think rice pudding! Rich in selenium, manganese, fiber and antioxidants.
- Spelt Berries: Complex flavour and plenty of whole grain nutrition, it can be more easily digested than other forms of wheat and many people with wheat intolerances are able to tolerate it. High in fiber and a good source of iron and manganese. It has a chewy texture and sweet, nutty flavour making it a great choice for porridge.
- Barley: You can use whole hull-less barley, pearl barley, rolled barley flakes or barley grits to make whole grain porridge. The textures range from hearty and chewy whole barley, to polenta-like barley grits. Barley has a nutty, slightly sweet flavour and makes a yummy choice for hot cereal.
- Wheat Berries: Chewy and a great porridge option, good source of protein, fiber and iron.
- Bulgur: Nutty flavour, low in fat and high in minerals like manganese, magnesium and iron, plus a good source of plant-based protein. It’s easy to prepare and a delicious of option for whole grain porridge.
- Rye Flakes: Made from whole grain rye that’s been softened, steamed and rolled into flakes, rye flakes are a delicious option for whole grain porridge. They have a mild flavour and are an excellent source of fiber, in particular a type of fiber called arabinoxylan, which is known for its high antioxidant activity. Rye is a good source of phosphorous, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and protein.
- Oats (Gluten-Free): Oats are very nutritious and have the perfect mild flavour and chewy texture for making porridge. Try rolled oats, quick oats or steel-cut oats in recipes like my simple banana oatmeal or baked steel cut oats.
- Buckwheat Groats (Gluten-Free): Inexpensive, easy to prepare, has a yummy, earthy flavour, they have a chewy texture much like steel-cut oats making them delicious for whole grain porridge. High in both soluble and insoluble fibre, has 6 grams of protein per 1/4 cup serving, is a complete protein, and a good source of iron, copper, magnesium and manganese.
Whole Grain Porridge Recipes
These recipes all call for a pre-cooked grain of choice so your’e simply heating it with dairy-free milk and various add-ins. Heat them up in 5 minutes and enjoy for a healthy, nourishing breakfast! This is also a great way to use up leftover grains.
These recipes all call for cooked grains so you’re simple heating a cooked grain of choice with a bit of dairy-free milk and yummy add-ins. Add any toppings you might like and enjoy!
- recipes call for 1 serving of whole grains, or 1/4 cup dry, which yields between 1/2 and 3/4 cup cooked. The recipes call for 1/2 cup cooked for each recipe but feel free to use a bit more than that and just add a bit more liquid as needed to adjust the consistency.
- one serving of grains like buckwheat groats, freekeh, quinoa yield around 3/4 cup once they’re cooked but some are more dense, such as steel-cut oats
- all recipes can be doubled, tripled or more, as needed.
- maple syrup, brown rice syrup or agave
- coconut sugar
- liquid stevia
- date paste
- mashed banana
- vegan vanilla protein powder (you’ll need to add a bit of extra liquid if you add protein powder)
More Reading: Natural Sugar Substitutes
- use any homemade or store-bought plant-based milk
- try this homemade almond milk
- try this homemade hemp milk
- Triple Coconut – coconut milk, shredded coconut and coconut sugar, try it with quinoa, amaranth, brown rice or rolled oats
- Pumpkin Pie – perfect for Fall and Winter, try it topped with walnuts and almond butter, rolled oats, steel-cut oats and brown rice work well
- Apple Cinnamon – sliced apple, cinnamon and maple syrup for a classic combo
- Banana Nut – extra hearty made with chia and hemp seeds
- Caramel Tahini – sweet, soft dates and creamy tahini make an amazing combo!
Once you’ve got the hang of it, creating fun whole grain porridge flavours can be a lot of fun! You can try one of the 5 variations below but don’t stop there, how about:
- Chocolate Peanut Butter – stir in 1 tbsp of cacao and top with peanut butter
- Strawberry Cream – stir in plenty of fresh or frozen strawberries and top with dairy-free yogurt
- Blueberry Lemon – stir in plenty of fresh lemon juice and top with fresh or frozen blueberries
- Almond Butter & Jam – stir in chia seed jam and top with almond butter
There’s no end to the flavours you can create!
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup cooked whole grain of choice such as farro, quinoa, brown rice, steel-cut oats or millet
- 1/4–1/2 cup dairy-free milk, as needed to reach desired consistency
- 2 tsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice, optional
- use coconut milk for the milk
- 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
- 4 small dates, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tahini
- Add the cooked whole grain to a small pot with the milk and your choice of sweetener.
- Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until heated through.
- Scoop into a bowl and enjoy with any additional toppings such as nuts, fruit, almond butter or coconut yogurt.
Nutrition facts include 3/4 cup cooked quinoa (other cooked grains have similar nutrition), 1/4 cup dairy-free milk and 2 tsp maple syrup. Adjust for what else you add to it.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 219
- Sugar: 10 g
- Fat: 3.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 40 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 6.5 g
Keywords: whole grain porridge