Power Porridge

PorridgeNothing feeds our energy needs when we’re cycling quite so much as porridge.

One big bowl (or maybe two if we’re starving) of oats, milk and honey will happily keep us riding all morning long in a way that other breakfasts never quite match. Throw in a few sliced apples or raisins, sprinkle with cinnamon and you have a luxury feast to start the day.

So when we got an email from the owner of The Otter Valley Food Company, asking if we’d like to try out their porridge, we were excited. Yes, that’s right. Porridge excites us. We were also a little sceptical.

It was the price that made us most uncertain. At £3.50 for 500 grams (that’s about $5.50 U.S.) this Power Porridge, as it’s called, was expensive! We worked it out to be about 7-8 times the cost of plain porridge oats.

Once we got over the sticker shock, we turned the package over to see what was in it and then the price became clear. This is no ordinary porridge. The ingredient list includes flakes of rye, barley, spelt, buckwheat, millet and quinoa as well as poppy, pumpkin, sunflower, linseed, alfalfa and sesame seeds.

The ingredients impressed us. These are all things we’d like to eat more of for their omega fatty acids, vitamins and minerals but let’s face it, we don’t normally make our daily quotas. As soon as we saw the long list of items in Power Porridge, we knew it was unlikely that we would normally take the time to track down quite so many things to make porridge. We were happy someone had done it for us.

Suitably encouraged, we shoved the porridge mix in our panniers and set out on a winter bicycle camping trip around Holland. On the first morning in the campground, we decided to give it a try. Our first impression was a confused one. There were no directions on the package, other than to cook ‘as normal porridge’ and cover with ‘adequate water’.

In our travels, we’ve found that different brands of porridge and types of oats cook very differently, so we had no ‘normal porridge’ frame of reference. We also hadn’t made porridge in so long, that we’d forgotten how much of the dry porridge to cook per person. The package didn’t really help us out.

Not wanting to be hungry (our worst fear), we put all the porridge in a pan, covered with water and set the pot over a low flame to see what would happen. Clearly it wasn’t enough water because over the next few minutes we had to add glass after glass of water until, about 10 minutes later, the porridge looked ready. Into the bowls it went. It was time for the taste test.

Yum!We loved the hearty nature of the porridge and the texture from the seeds and grains but we both agreed that would have liked to put a bit of honey and cinnamon on top. Like all porridge we’ve tasted, without a little something extra, it’s too much like gruel to eat every morning, no matter how good you know it is for you. Despite our missing honey and cinnamon, we both happily finished a big bowl, and Andrew even went for seconds.

This still left a lot of porridge in the pot.

Later, the owner of Otter Valley Food Company clarified for us. Apparently the normal ratio is about 1 cup of water to 50g of porridge for one person. Since we eat at least double the amount of normal non-cycling folks, that means about half the package of power porridge is the right amount for 2 hungry cyclists.

Our conclusion is that Power Porridge is certainly very hearty and good for you. It’s also a mix of ingredients that most of us wouldn’t have access to or take time to assemble. Of course the price reflects that, so if you’re accustomed to cheap porridge then be prepared to dig deeper for your daily breakfast.

The other issue is actually getting your hands on Power Porridge. Within Britain, you can get it in the whole foods section of Tesco and smaller speciality shops. You can also order online, but then there are shipping costs to incur. Even if you can find it, how much will you want to carry on your trip? You could pack a couple bags for a week of touring, but much more will be difficult to manage. For us, we’re probably back on the plain oats train fairly soon, perhaps with some pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top for that little something extra.

Thanks to Otter Valley Food Company for supplying a sample of Power Porridge.