How do I make my breakfast interesting, yet filling, but totally practical? That’s the question on Natasha Corrett’s lips as she adds half a banana, some dairy free rice milk, chia seeds and other wonderful ingredients to a blender.
Listening intently, myself and a group of four other food writers await for the answer. “Good fats,” Natasha explains as she begins to prepare a portion of gluten free and dairy free porridge for us to try ourselves on the stoves behind.
“Porridge can often leave you feeling hungry after a few hours as your body thinks it’s sugar. By adding some good fats like avocado, almond butter or coconut oil to your porridge, you’ll help stay fuller for longer,” she continues.
*Makes mental note and quickly types down before leaving the class*
Recently I enjoyed an interactive cooking class with the Natasha Corrett, the alkaline chef behind the hugely popular ‘Honestly Healthy’ brand and cookbook, and dairy free brand Rice Dream. Being a huge fan of Natasha’s and eager to try more dairy free options in order to prepare myself for Veganuary, I was eager to learn how to make breakfasts and snacks that were not only gluten free, but also dairy free.
First up we enjoyed shot-sized glasses of the different dairy free milks in the collection. I had a soft spot for Coconut Dream, the coconut flavoured rice milk; perfect for porridges, cereal, smoothies or just sipping chilled straight from the fridge.
Before we knew it, we were heading for the kitchen with helpful portions of all the ingredients we’d need for the morning’s session laid out on our individual islands. Natasha first demonstrated how to make a thick Almond Butter Milkshake, followed by a Berry Tahini Smoothie. The added tahini gave a really simple, slightly savoury nutty flavour, which complimented the banana well. Using a hand blender, we were able to whisk the smoothies up in quite literally seconds, proving just how easy eating well can be in the mornings.
Finally, Natasha demonstrated her porridge technique, and the dish I was looking forward to the most. I’ll hold my hands up and admit, that due to wanting to save time in the mornings, I’ll often bung a bowl of porridge and milk in the microwave heat for 2 minutes and stir in some Nutella. That was until after two weeks of having it solidly I was starting to put on weight, and then the Nutella was quickly swapped back to honey, and now just simply water and maple syrup for Veganuary.
But instead, Natasha used the hob, using a small frying pan and gently stirring the gluten free oats and rice milk together over a gently heat. Next we added blackberries, providing pressure to help the berry slowly melt into the porridge and create a wonderful pinky/purple colour, followed by desiccated coconut, nutmeg and chia seeds. Once the porridge began to thicken, we removed from the heat, added to a large bowl and decorated with avocado, more coconut and flaked almonds.
Hold the phone. Avocado? Yep you heard that right. On arrival I saw the group before leave the kitchen with wonderfully green avocado draped (nod to Nigella) over their warm pink porridge. (Also couldn’t help but think this perfectly encompassed Nigella’s obsessed with pink and green!) It seemed totally natural to question the choice, but kept open-minded once it was my turn. Tucking into the finished product, and I can honestly say it’s a great addition. You don’t really realise you’re eating avocado at all. Instead it adds an additional soft and slightly mushy, creamy texture to the porridge, perfect for keeping you full as Natasha explained.
Here’s how to make my favourite dish from the class.
Dairy Free and Gluten Free Blackberry & Avocado Porridge
What you need:
Handful of blackberries
120g gluten free porridge oats
3 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 tbsp chia seeds
450ml Rice Dream
½ an avocado
Flaked almonds to garnish (optional)
- Add the gluten free oats, desiccated coconut, chia seeds and half of the Rice Dream and bring to a gentle simmer on a medium heat. Gradually add the blackberries. Prod slightly with a spatula if you’d prefer the blackberry flavour to be absorbed into the porridge (turning it pink).
- When the mixture starts to thicken, add the remaining Rice Dream and continue to heat until the porridge is cooked.
- While the porridge cooks, chop the avocado into thin half-moon shapes and set aside.
- Divide the porridge into two bowls and top with the remaining blackberries and avocado. Sprinkle over some crunchy toppings of your choice and if you need a bit more of a sweet fix try a drizzle of agave syrup or honey. If you’re taking part in Veganuary like me, add some flaked almonds and maple syrup.
Both the porridge and the smoothies were perfectly creamy without any hint they were in fact dairy free at all. After polishing off the porridge and a good chunk of each smoothie, I was strangely full for a long while after our class (which is odd seeing how much I usually snack!).
Since Natasha’s dairy free cooking class, I’ve been using Coconut Rice Milk in all sorts – including a great addition to mash potato. By mixing up rice milk at the weekend, and water weekdays in my porridge, I’m not really sure I miss dairy all that much.
Big thanks to Natasha and Rice Dream for inviting me along on the day. I loved using Coconut Rice Dream, in particular for some added creaminess this Veganuary. And who new avocado made the perfect porridge topping?! I’m converted.