"Tasty (NO)Wheat" Porridge
When I was a little girl I spent a lot of time with my favourite person ever - my grandmother, Maria. She was Italian and moved to South Africa with her parents during the second world war when they fled Italy on a boat headed south. Unfortunately, her favourite way to show people how much she loved them was typical Italian-style - with FOOD. Copious amounts of food, all day long... And my goodness could she could and bake!
Almond extract is a scent that transports me right back to my childhood days in that kitchen with my Gran, and I can never make custard without adding a little splash! Lamingtons, spaghetti bolognaise, fruit cake, biscotti... no one in the world I've ever met - not even most restaurant chefs (at least the ones I've encountered) - have ever matched my grandmother's ability in the kitchen.
Hence I was a very rotund child for many years (and suffered ever since with the metabolic issues arising from it), until I stopped being with her for after-school care while my mother was at work. And magically, I discovered my waistline! But some of my all-time best memories are with my Granny in that kitchen on Maud street, and one of my favourite foods that she made for me regularly, was Tasty Wheat.
If you're not familiar with Tasty Wheat, it was a creamed porridge, slightly granular in texture made with milk or water to form a thick, smooth, hot porridge. I ADORED Tasty Wheat for breakfast. She would make it in my favourite bowl, sprinkle copious amounts of sugar on top, and then pour cold milk over it all, so that as I scooped up a bite, I would get hot sweet porridge, cool milk and melted sugar all in one amazing mouthful... *Sigh*
When I moved to the UK it was many years before I learned that semolina pudding was, for all intents and purposes, Tasty Wheat, but made as a pudding eaten with jam....shudder. And much to my endless sadness it was not long after making this discovery that we went paleo - I just found my way back to Tasty Wheat and I then I had to give it up again! It was a sad time for me. Not because I couldn't bear to give up wheat or any of the other "foods" I was used to, but because of the nostalgic significance. I've only seen my beloved Granny twice since moving to the UK, (and she passed away a year ago) though I kept regular contact with her by phone and letter as much as I could.
Recently, I wanted to try making a porridge that didn't use coconut flour or coconut butter as the base (because we are SUFFERING from food boredom AF right now!) so I needed a new recipe that was quick, used few ingredients and could be made anytime I didn't want a meat-or-eggs based breakfast. On the first try of this recipe, I knew I was onto a winner... It had the perfect Tasty Wheat texture! I can't really remember the exact taste, but isn't it always down to texture anyway?
When I woke up to a chilly and rainy (and very Welsh!) day today here in the mountains in our little caravan, I knew I wanted something warming and soothing for breakfast. So I made it for the second time and it came out just as perfectly again! Then I figured, it was time to share :)
The main ingredients are cassava root flour (not tapioca starch, but the whole root flour) and buckwheat flour. I got a big bag of cassava flour recently as it's meant to give baked goods a real "Wheaty" texture but so far only tried it a couple of times and wasn't enthusiastic about the results... so it had just been sitting there for a few months. We are presently without an oven, otherwise I'd be trying out some of the fabulous-looking bread recipes I've since seen! But when I thought about trying a porridge recipe without using coconut, it seemed a logical choice to test out the cassava. And I am SO glad I did.
The flavour of the this porridge is nutty, warming and caramel-y, thanks to the buckwheat, ceylon cinnamon and coconut sugar. It's like eating a warm hug! Got no other description for it :D It would be just perfect on a winter's morning, it's cheap and low on ingredients, is extremely filling AND is quick enough and easy enough to make in the mornings before taking the kids to school or going to work (if you even do those things anymore since Covid).
I do have a few tips for you though:
Buy your flours in bulk (look for organic options where possible) as they are much cheaper than buying in small bags - I get all mine on Ebay these days, including the gelatine. It's also way more eco-friendly to buy in bulk, which saves on pakaging, production costs and the number of times they'd have to deliver to you!
There is a big difference in quality and nutritional value between standard cassia cinnamon and true ceylon cinnamon, so I do highly recommend the ceylon if you can get it - it's not usually that much more expensive especially if you buy a 50g bag of it (look for medical grade cinnamon). It tastes very slightly different to cassia too, reminds me of the Fireball sweets I used to get as a kid! But use whatever cinnamon you got - it's super good for keeping your blood sugar steady.
If you know you're usually in a rush in the mornings, prep your pot the night before so all you have to do is add your liquids and cook. You can take the pre-prep to the next level by measuring out the dry ingredients into small ziplock bags (as many as you want for the week/month) so you can dump-and-cook whenever you fancy it!
Watch the pot carefully - once it heats up it will thicken quickly and stick to the bottom of the pot, so you need to keep it moving. I recommend a thick-bottomed stainless steel saucepan or pot for even heat distribution.
And now, the recipe!
I write my recipes as you would create them, rather than an "Ingredients + Method" way - I just find it much easier to work with a recipe when you are told how much of said ingredient to use as you are going, rather than having to keep scrolling back up to find the ingredients list again. All the ingredients are in BOLD so you can see them easily to gather your goods. Let me know in the comments below what you think of this way of working with a recipe!
"TASTY (NO)WHEAT" PORRIDGE (Serves 4)
Into a small saucepan/pot, add the following:
3/8ths cup of buckwheat flour
3/8ths cup of cassava flour
2 tbs gelatine
1 tsp ceylon cinnamon
Whisk flours well until combined. Add:
200ml cold water
400ml can of coconut milk (I use KTC brand)
1 tsp vanilla essence
Whisk really well until you have a thick, smooth paste (if you have lumps, use a stick blender to get them smoothed out).
Place pot over a low heat. Stir frequently until starts to steam and thicken, then stir much more often to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add:
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tbs coconut oil
1 tbs butter (optional - use 2 tbs coconut oil to avoid dairy. I use Kerrygold butter.)
When all is incorporated well and the porridge is good and thick, remove from heat. Serve immediately in small bowls. Dust with cinnamon sugar if desired, or a drizzle of honey, and top with cold milk of your choice (I use raw milk). I don't find it needs any additional sweetening, but kids always appreciate the extra sweetness!
Save this recipe for when the summer starts to turn and you find yourself looking for that warm comfort of a simple sweet porridge as the days begin to shorten and your mornings have that chill in the air...
I hope you really enjoy this delicious porridge. It probably tastes NOTHING like the original Tasty Wheat I used to know and love, but in terms of texture, and that something special that makes it warm my heart, it's juuust right ;)
Tam x x