Why Should You Start Eating Cornmeal Porridge Right Now!
I have only discovered this Jamaican gem recently when my colleague brought it to work for her lunch.
I am a person who needs sweet stuff for breakfast. If I have eggs, fry up or anything savoury, I feel ill and heavy and cannot move for the rest of the day. There is always an exception – hangover. Hangover food = eggs, totally!
But I don’t wake up with a hangover every day and I am quite serious about how I fuel my body. Most of the time, anyway 🙂
WHY DOES IT TASTE SO GOOD?
Cornmeal porridge is incredibly soft and versatile regarding seasoning. I absolutely love the texture! So smooth and easy to eat. It doesn’t create any lumps and it’s almost satisfying to watch as it cooks. All this providing it’s cooked well, just like anything else, it can be mucked up 🙂 When I first made it at home, I just added milk to fine cornmeal and expected it to taste amazing 😀 On its own, cornmeal porridge is actually very bland and the reason why it tastes so good from a Caribbean shop is that they make it with coconut and condensed milk 🙂 I was a little worried about the amount of sugar added because I don’t use condensed milk very often, I’ve always thought it was incredibly sugary and bad for you.
But since I don’t consume any confectionery like chocolate, crisps, chocolate bars, biscuits etc., I came to a conclusion that adding a little (and a little is all you need) is not going to impact my diet that much. I also checked the label and the one I buy (Lidl) contains 5.6g of sugar per serving which is stated as 10g (2.5 teaspoons). Now, that’s about as much I need. I add a teaspoon at the end when the cornmeal is nearly done and then drizzle a little over just before serving. So I probably consume about a teaspoon of sugar there. Not an issue for me at all since I am a strong supporter of breakfast being the most important meal of the day. If I didn’t eat in the morning, I would be grumpy and tired withing an hour and it would set my bad mood for the entire day. I also train 5 – 6 times a week so sugar intake is definitely not something that I a worry about a lot. I do, however, try to avoid added sugars. I don’t pay any attention to those in fruit and veg – naturally occurring. The main problem is the hidden sugar in processed products, quite often somewhere we wouldn’t expect it at all. (More about this at the end so stay with me :))
Cornmeal is basically all carbohydrates BUT (before you get off this website for good :)) barely any sugars.
Now, there is a difference and most people interchange these two words quite freely.
Carbohydrates are all types of sugars, simple and complex. They have very different functions after entering our body. Simple sugars travel to small intestine where they get absorbed into the bloodstream as blood sugar and travel to any cells that currently are in need of energy. Complex carbohydrates are classified as dietary fibre which travels all the way to the large intestine and plays a massive role in the health of the digestive system and bowel movement. There are also starches that lay somewhere in between
100g of uncooked cornmeal contains:
- Energy – 375 kcal
- Carbohydrates – 83g
- Sugars – 0.6g
- Protein – 5.6g
- Fat – 1.4g
Obviously you have to add all the nutrients of whatever you are adding to cook the cornmeal such as milk and the foods you garnish your breakfast with, for example nuts, seeds or fruit.
A rich cornmeal porridge cooked with milk with added condensed milk at the end garnished with nuts, seeds and fruit can easily pack 600kcal which, for me, is perfect, I usually hit the gym after breakfast so I cannot do that on a toasted bread and an egg white omelette. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from their eating habits, I’m simply saying that this is not the way I eat because my goal is not weight loss.
- B6 (Pyridoxine) – 30% RDI. Same as all the other B vitamins, it helps the body to turn food into energy.
- B1 (Thiamine) – 15% RDI. Enables us to use carbohydrates as energy, it’s essential for glucose metabolism and plays a huge role in neuromuscular system (nerves, muscles).
- B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – 7% RDI. Important to synthesize and metabolise proteins.
- B3 (Niacin) – 7% RDI. Crucial for healthy nervous and digestive system and skin.
- B9 (Folic Acid) – 7% RDI. Important for healthy blood cells and incredibly crucial in pregnancy for proper development of the baby.
- B2 (Riboflavin) – 4% RDI. Important for red blood cell production and it aids to release energy from proteins
- Magnesium – 25% RDI. Important for ATP function – ATP molecule has to bind to magnesium ion to be biologically active
- Phosphorus – 22% RDI. Essential for an ATP molecule production which is the only energy molecule our body recognises.
- Zinc – 20% RDI. Incredibly versatile mineral essential to hundreds of bodily functions. Just to mention some, it plays a role in synapses throughout the brain and therefore is hugely important in learning and cognitive abilities. Important for central nervous system stability. It also plays a role in protein synthesis and many more.
- Copper – 13% RDI. Works closely with Iron to form red blood cells.
HOW ABOUT OAT PORRIDGE?
Don’t get me wrong, I love both! I think they are incredibly nutritional and filling foods, perfect to have as breakfast every single day!
There are many types of oats you can prepare your porridge with but I tend to buy rolled oats (100g)
- Energy – 380kcal
- Carbohydrates – 67g
- Sugars – 1g
- Protein – 13g
- Fat – 6.5g
Oats are incredibly rich in vitamins and minerals, such as:
- B1 (Thiamine), as much as 40% of recommended daily intake.
- B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – 22% RDI.
- B2 (Riboflavin) – 13% RDI.
- Manganese – 100g of oats contain over 150% RDI. Important in fighting free radicals and bone formation
- Phosphorus – 59% RDI.
- Magnesium – 39% RDI.
- Zinc – 38% RDI.
- Iron – 33% RDI. Main role of iron is to enable human body to obtain energy from ATP and to form haemoglobin which transports oxygen throughout the body.
CORNMEAL VS OATMEAL
As you can see, cornmeal is probably not as nutritious as oatmeal. It’s a tough one to beat, though. Just have a look at oatmeal’s nutritional values. It is packed with stuff, everything it contains is present in high amounts essentially being the ultimate breakfast you can get 🙂
If you do eat the same thing every day, though, it becomes progressively harder to make it interesting. Yes, porridge is an incredibly versatile food and you can add just about anything to it – matcha, cacao, spirulina, turmeric, different milks (coconut, almond, etc.). It can also be topped up with anything you find in the cupboard (nuts, seeds, cacao nibs, coconut shavings, fruit, etc.)
But sometimes you just need a change 🙂 And that’s when cornmeal comes in. It’s so different in many ways. The texture is completely different, oats are slightly lumpy and can be a little too filling sometimes. There are times when the oats just act like a glue for me. Maybe I’m the only one experiencing this because I have seen people eating huge amounts of porridge in the morning without even batting an eyelid but for me, personally, it’s just sometimes too dense.
I have recently become a fan of having cornmeal for lunch 🙂 I have grown up in Eastern Europe so we used to have semolina porridge for lunch at school every couple of weeks. My mum used to make it for dinner sometimes with cacao sprinkled over and melted butter poured on top, yummy :). It’s very similar to cornmeal apart from the colour, it’s pure white but if cornmeal is cooked long enough and the grainy texture disappears, it’s almost identical. Maybe that’s why I’m such a fan. It just brings up childhood memories but I’m positive you’d like it too.
I love mixing them two up and it brings a lot of variety into my week. Porridge, whatever is it made of in the end, is incredibly cheap and nutritious way to eat. A kilogram of these foods only sets me back a quid or so and it lasts forever since I only use about 60g for a portion.
So the verdict is, I LOVE THEM BOTH and variety is key in consistency and nutrition.
Most people think that fitness enthusiasts and athletes only eat rice and bland chicken. There is so many nutritionally dense foods out there and all the foods taste good if we know how to prepare them properly.
Again, first time I tried to make cornmeal, I only cooked it for a few minutes, just like you would do with a porridge and it turned out gritty and tasteless (I also didn’t add any spices like nutmeg and cinnamon or sweetener as you are supposed to). You would not eat food if it didn’t contain any seasonings, would you? Same thing with healthy, vegetarian or even vegan dishes. Following any lifestyle choice can offer you a great variety of tastes and textures but it’s hard for us to transition to natural foods because we are so used to eating processed food with a lot of additives and, most importantly, taste enhancers and a lot of sugars. Yes, these foods taste great but they limit our ability to taste natural flavours of fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices.
There is so many ways to spice up very healthy dishes and especially vegetables. They don’t just have to be steamed or boiled and thrown on a plate without rubbing against anything. Gotta say, there is nothing I loathe more than bland boiled veg.
Salt, pepper, paprika, turmeric, cumin, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg. There is so many ways to add taste, we don’t have to buy processed sauces, soups, porridge etc. These are one of the easiest dishes to make and I never understood why people buy a soup or sauce in a can and porridge in a sachet 🙁 These products hide a lot of sugars that you would not add if you made that particular dish at home, or you at least have the control of how much sweetener to add if you are making it yourself. We don’t have that luxury with store bought products.
Why did I include footnote like this here, you ask? There is a lot of products out there advertised as healthy. For example the infamous flavoured porridge sachets. I started buying them when I first decided to lose some weight after having a period of few years when I didn’t exercise at all. Then I started to be a little more conscious about sugar and actually read the label. One serving contains as much as 15g of sugar which is a lot more than my teaspoon of condensed milk or a little drizzle of honey.
Which leads me to an ending that is becoming a pattern in my posts. Read the labels and spot the hidden sugars!
Share any ideas in the comments x