OUR grandmothers told us so, but it has taken the GI revolution to convince us of the fact that a bowl of porridge is one of the healthiest ways to start the day. Low in fat and high in fibre, its low glycaemic index (GI) ensures a slow and sustained release of energy. Rich in vitamin B6, which is believed to help guard against depression, it is little wonder that the humble oat has morphed into a stylish 21st-century superfood.
But who wants to spend those first minutes of the day slaving over a hot stove - and who has the time?
Enter uncooked and cold oat products which offer all the benefits of a bowl of the steaming hot stuff - but which you can enjoy on the run.
Earlier this week Quaker Oats, the cereal manufacturing arm of PepsiCo, said that it plans to launch a new range of cold cereals which contain all the benefits of this supergrain, without the mess and fuss of sticky saucepans. The range, due to launch in April, will include Oat Granola with raisins; Oat Crunch, made from bitesize pieces of oat cereal; Oat Crisps, with light, crispy cereal pieces, and Oat Hoops, made from small circles of crunchy oats.
But you don't need such processed products to bypass using your spurtle of a morning. Purists might balk at the idea but uncooked oats served cold can be just as delicious as the hot stuff, and prepared in Tupperware are perfect to eat on the go. Scatter a handful of fresh fruit and nuts or honey and natural yoghurt over them. You will struggle to find a tastier, healthier or simpler breakfast.
Anthony Stone set up his Edinburgh-based Stoats Porridge Bars when he became frustrated at the lack of availability of healthy fast foods. His mobile porridge van is now a familiar sight at outdoor events across Scotland, and in its new location on the edge of George Square and The Meadows in Edinburgh.
For a fast breakfast, Stone suggests pouring 100g of organic rolled oats into a dish, adding just enough semi-skimmed milk to cover the oats then mixing well, before adding sultanas, raisins and crushed almonds along with chopped banana and apple. This amount serves two.
However, the texture and flavour of most cold porridge dishes will benefit from soaking the oats in water or fruit juice for an hour - while you shower and get ready for work - or, even better, overnight. Oats soaked in apple juice make a delicious cold porridge on their own, or add whatever topping you have to hand.
Whatever you do, do not skimp on the quality of the oats you buy. Scotland is world famous for its oats, thanks to the fact that this cereal prefers cold and damp conditions to grow, and this native crop is one of the cheapest cereals around. Opt for organic if you can find them, to minimise the chemical content of your healthy breakfast - Sainsbury's does a 750g bag of organic oats for 99p, which will feed a family of four at breakfast time for a working week.
Then just pour and stir. You know Granny would approve.
Basic cold porridge recipe Serves 2
• 75g high-quality whole porridge oats
• Enough cold water to just cover the oats in a bowl
• 3 tablespoons of plain, natural yoghurt
• 1 dessertspoon of honey
• Optional additions: mixed berries, chopped dried fruit, nuts, seeds
Soak the raw oats in the cold water for a minimum of one hour, or overnight if possible. If there is any excess water left on the surface after soaking, drain it off carefully. Then simply mix the yoghurt and honey into the oats until all are well combined, add the extras of your choice and eat.