Mince Pie Porridge, wishing you a lighter taste of the season with my new recipe.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been asking Porridge fans quite a lot of questions to ready my Christmas Porridge recipe. Thank you to everyone who got in contact with me, your taste buds have been much appreciated!

My seasonal recipe for 2019 was sparked by a certain supermarket who launched a line in ‘Mince Pie Porridge’. At first I thought that this sounded revolting. I don’t have anything against mincemeat, or mince pies it was just the thought of dolloping one on top of winters best, and healthiest, breakfast. However after a quick look around on the internet I started to see lots of healthier versions of mincemeat; sugar free, vegan suitable and low in fat. This started my quest to make a mincemeat that was packed full of fruit and spices but light on free-sugars, and a recipe could be made for vegetarians and vegans.

It was a bit tricky to make a mincemeat with all the flavours of Christmas without all the fat. The recipe I have developed isn’t one you can store, you need to keep it in the fridge and use within a two weeks. However I hope you will enjoy it so much that this won’t be a problem. The ingredients are enough to make two jars so you can give one to a friend for Christmas and get them into the healthy Porridge habit.

So without further ado, here it is my healthier Christmas recipe for Mince Pie Porridge, that is in the spirit of a fun, but lighter festive season…. 

Makes: two jars

Takes: Mincemeat – 15-20 mins

Porridge – 5-6 mins


Recipe: Mincemeat

150g of grated cooking apples

20g butter or coconut oil

2 organic oranges, juice and peel

20g Xylitol  

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ginger

Generous scrape of nutmeg

200g mixed dried fruit

20g of toasted walnut pieces 

The Porridge

2 mugs of jumbo oats

1 mug of water, 1 of milk

Pinch of sea salt

Pinch of nutmeg. 


  • Place the grated apple into a large, deep, saucepan.
  • Add the butter, or coconut oil for the vegan option, and gently warm.
  • Add the orange juice and peel and heat the mixture gently for 5 minutes. As you are using the peel from the fruit it is important to use unwaxed, organic oranges, as you don’t want to eat any coating sprayed onto the fruit.
  • Add the sweetener; I made my recipe using the low GI, natural sweetener Xylitol. You can substitute this for your sweetner of choice.
  • Then add the spices and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  • Finally fold the walnuts and dried fruit through the mix and gently warm. I used a mixture of currants, sultanas, raisins and a good scattering of dried cranberries. 
  • Once the apple has melted, and all the ingredients are well mixed, set the saucepan aside to cool.
  • Once cold take two clean jam jars, spoon the mix into the jar and refrigerate overnight.
  • In the morning take out your Porridge pot, place the oats, water and milk into the saucepan and cook over a high heat for 3 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat and add the salt and nutmeg (although the spice is optional if you are not a fan) and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until you have a nice creamy consistency.
  • Poor the hot Porridge into two bowls and swirl a in a generous tablespoon of mincemeat.
  • Finally garnish with extra spices, if like me you can’t get enough cinnamon and nutmeg into the festive season!

Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and a healthy new year ahead. 

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Date announced for the 2019 Golden Spurtle World Porridge Championships

Hot of the Porridge press this weekend is the news that the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Championships has announced the date for the 2019 competition.

The 26th Annual Golden Spurtle will be held on Saturday the 12th of October in the beautiful village of Carrbridge. However you will have to wait until March to enter your application to the competition organizers, which gives you plenty of time to get practicing! 

Entrants are welcome from across the globe, with competitors in previous years coming from countries including; America, Canada, Russia, Estonia, Ireland, Scotland and England too. Sweden swept the board last year, which country will be the favourite in 2019? 

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Chocolate oat mug cake, believe the hype!

Dark, damp, November days, its the most miserable time of the year. I came home the other evening frozen through, sodden, with a knee I could barley move and all I could think about was chocolate cake. Luckily/unluckily I didn’t have any in the house as it’s that time between the fun of Halloween/ fireworks night and Christmas. A hungry gap when I keep my cupboards free of feast foods. 

Desperate for a chocolate fix, without the sugar, I turned to the internet for inspiration. My eye was quickly caught by a trend of recipes for ‘Microwave Mug Cakes’. Simple ingredients, quickly cooked, could this be too good to be true? After reading around and a quick test the answer is…. Microwave Mug Cakes believe the hype!

There are a lot of recipes already out there but there is no point swerving full chocolate cake only to have a mug full of sugar. So I’m hoping this post will help you find something that fills you full of chocolate flavour and oats without sugar, until Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year! Arrives. 

Chocolate Oaty Microwave Mug Cake

Basic Ingredients:

 3 heaped tablespoons of oat flour

Pinch of baking powder

1 heaped tablespoon of xylitol

2  tablespoons of cacao (or sugar-free cocoa powder)

One medium organic or free range egg

1 tablespoon of oat milk



Natural flavorings such as vanilla extract or orange juice 

Nuts, or nut butter, and seeds

Fruit; slices of fresh fruit, frozen berries or dried fruit pieces. 


Makes: One mug cake

Takes: Five mins

Take a big, deep mug, (the bigger the better as this will stop the mixture overflowing when it cooks) and add the flour, baking powder, xylitol and cacao.

Then add any additions. My two favourite ways to make this mug cake are; to add a spoonful of hazelnut butter in the middle of the mix or replace some of the milk with orange juice to get a chocolate orange taste to this dessert. 

Crack the egg into the mug and mix all the ingredients thoroughly.

Place the mug into the microwave and set to cook for 2 mins.

After the first 1 1/2 watch the mug like a hawk as this is when it could overflow.

Once cooked carefully remove from the microwave and leave to rest for a few minutes. The cake will be piping hot so let it cool!

Don’t worry if your cake is wonky, hot spots in my microwave mean my pudding always rises more on one side. This feel good cake has more of a voice for radio than a face for Instagram! 

Get a spoon, take a seat, put your feet up and tuck in.

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Persimmon, the perfect fruit for Autumn Porridge wherever you are enjoying fall

Persimmon’s are a fairly new fruit to me. I only came across the vivid orange autumnal fruit a few years ago during a stay in Frankfurt. Every morning I would walk to the local greengrocers to buy a huge 1 Euro Persimmon for my morning Porridge and head back, only stopping to admire the red squirrels that lived on my road. 

Since that very cold winter I have added Persimmons to my Porridge repertoire from October to January. However Persimmons seem to have followed me around the globe. From California farmers market fruits, that made the best Halloween Persimmon Porridge in Yosemite, to preserved Persimmons that kept me going on Japanese tea farms. 

Whilst Persimmons are popular across the globe they are little known in the UK. Partly price and availability but mostly due to a lack of recipes, Persimmons are a poor cousin to that other autumn favourite the Pomegranate. I hope to do my bit to change that with this recipe, which I hope you will enjoy throughout the coming winter months. 

Multigrain Baked Persimmon Porridge

2 large Persimmons

1 cup of jumbo oats

1 cup of millet flakes

2 cups of milk or almond mylk 

2 cups of water

Pinch of sea or pink Himalayan salt

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 tablespoons of ground almonds 

A generous handful of Thompson raisins 

Nutmeg to garnish


Makes: Two generous portions 

Takes: 30 mins


Take two large ripe Persimmons and wash well.

Pre-heat the oven to 160c then put the fruit on a baking tray and place into the hot oven. 

Cook the persimmons for 20 mins, or until soft, being careful not to burn the fruits.

Remove the baking tray from the oven and set aside to allow the fruit to cool.

Then into a large saucepan put the oats, millet, water and milk or mylk and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 3 mins then add the salt and vanilla to the cooking grains, stirring it in thoroughly.

Keep stirring and keep cooking for another 2-3 minutes until the mix becomes a thick Porridge. Then stir in the ground almonds.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside whilst you prepare the Persimmons.

Take the fruit and carefully peel with a knife. Then slice into rounds of about 1 cm thickness.

Pour the Porridge into bowls, garnish with the persimmon slices, a generous grate of nutmeg, a sprinkle of raisins and serve piping hot. 

If you want a bit more on your Porridge you can try these optional extras;

Toasted sunflower seeds – sprinkle some over the Persimmon slices for a nice chewy texture to the soft fruit. Also adds a lovely toasty aroma. 

Chia seeds –  topping with these seeds will add omega 3 and essential minerals

Honey – for those who like things a bit sweeter drizzle a little over the Persimmon slices to really bring out the flavour of the fruit.  

Lucuma powder – a teaspoonful of this powder stirred in to the cooked oats will add a low GI sweetness to your Porridge and minerals such as calcium too. 

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Stop Press! Winner/s!!! of the 2018 World Porridge Competition announced

Hot off the press, the news from the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championships is a BIG surprise! For the first time in its 25 year history the competition has two winners!

Calle Myrsell and Per Carlsson from Sweden have jointly won the Golden Spurtle traditional category. It is also a two-in-a-row for Sweden who swept the board last year winning both traditional and specialty categories.

The specialty trophy stays in the home nation in 2018 as Chris Young of Perthshire Oatcakes, Scotland, won the freestyle category of the competition with his ‘Oatmeal Tapas Platter’ recipe. 

A big thanks goes to competition sponsors Hamlyns Oats for sending me this photo from the competition. You will be able to get the full news, photos and recipes from the Golden Spurtle website in the coming days. 

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Recipe part two: Steamed Shizuoka strawberry buns; a recipe for making the most of Autumn.

With the passing of the Equinox, Autumn has truly arrived. You may be mourning the end of summer, the heatwave and long days of sun but in this blog post I want to convince you of the benefits of Autumn and share the second part of my Shizuoka Strawberry Bun recipe. 

Whilst it may not be hot, Autumn is a great time to explore the outdoors and enjoy the changing colours of the season. There’s nothing quite like a hike through the fallen crisp leaves on a crisp Autumn morning. It’s also a great time to add in a bit of foraging to your walks; late season berries, apples from wild grown trees and for the knowledgeable, even a mushroom hunt. 

Being outdoors in the cool air builds up the appetite and colder days need hot sustenance. The way I sustain my Autumn outdoors is by using a Kelly Kettle*, a handy camping kettle that rapidly boils water even on the windiest days. 

Porridge Recipe

I like a good brew outdoors and as I’m currently not so mobile (still on crutches!) I get cold quickly, so I need tea fast and Kelly Kettle is my saviour. Not just tea, the kettle is great for warming foods such as strawberry buns! Yes summer is over but you can still enjoy strawberries with the recipe that I posted last week. I actually prefer the buns steamed, I like to bake a big batch eating some fresh and freezing the rest. Then I pack some up to enjoy in the great outdoors and this is how….

Autumn Steamed Shizuoka Steamed Buns 


Take buns from the batch you baked using my recipe.

Wrap them well and pop them in your backpack ready for a hike or in your picnic hamper, with a warm blanket, ready for some reading in the Autumn sun.

Pack up your stove, Kelly Kettle or any camping cooker.

Pack a strong saucepan, canteen of water and all your tea needs.

Head out the door and find your place in the Autumn sun.

Carefully set up the kettle, putting enough water in to make tea. 

Place a small amount of water in the base of the saucepan, enough to cover it, then put the buns in. 

Once the kettle is fully alight place the saucepan on top of it and steam the buns for 10 mins. The buns should be hot, steamed soft and slightly sticky. 

Carefully remove the saucepan and set aside. 

Using the boiled water from the kettle make your tea.

Once brewed serve the tea and buns hot and enjoy a taste of summer in the Autumn sunshine. 


*This post is not sponsored by Kelly Kettle. The post reflects my joy of Autumn and my thanks for the handy device. 

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Welcome in Porridge Season with a new Recipe book

The mornings are cool and damp, the wind is whistling and whipping up the falling leaves  and the nights are drawing in. It can only mean one thing – Porridge Season is here!

I’m never downhearted when Autumn arrives as to me the change in weather marks the start of Porridge Season, a time when people ditch muesli and overnight oats in favour of the best breakfast Porridge.  

If you have lost your Porridge making mojo then what better way to get back into making hot breakfasts on cold mornings then with a new recipe book. In time for the 25th anniversary of the World Porridge Making Championships the Golden Spurtle have launched a book to commorate the compeition and to share winning recipes from two and a half decades of Porridge perfection.

From sweet classic breakfasts to adventurous savoury oat dishes, the recipe book has it all – including a winning recipe from me; Oatmeal Spotted Dick,  the dish that won me the title of World Specialty Porridge Maker. 

The book is on sale now in the beautiful competition village of Carrbirdge, and available online via ebay. It will also be on sale on competition day along with handmade spurtles. Perhaps the perfect reason to attend the Golden Spurtle being held on Saturday the 6th of October 2018. 

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Shizuoka strawberry buns for a bit of baking on my blog

It has been a really good summer for strawberries. Every year I have a debate with friends about which is the best summer fruit. It always comes down to raspberries Vs strawberries but this year with all the heat and sun strawberries won out.

It has been an even better year for my strawberry eating as I had an unexpected early start to eating my favourite fruit when I came across the most succulent strawberries in Shizuoka, Japan. Of all the foods I was expecting, and looking forward to eating whilst on my travels, I did not expect to be eating strawberries in April in a very remote tea growing region close to Mount Fuji.

Strawberries were served with everything from a cooked breakfast to smoothies but they were served as a delicacy; a perfectly shaped fruit full of flavour and aroma. I’ve never tasted strawberries so good, so early in the year, so I was in my element. It wasn’t until I reached the big cities that I started to see strawberries in food. 

Two of the best were strawberry sandwiches; fine bread, thinly sliced and filled with custard, cream and halved strawberries, and strawberry buns filled with cream cheese. These may not sound like the most likely of combinations but they were delicious. So much so that since my return home I have been day dreaming of strawberry buns. Only one thing for it and that was to make my own recipe. It has been a long time since I have posted anything other than a Porridge recipe, a Spurtle suggestion, or a bit about oats so this is a baking departure for me!

This is a farewell to summer recipe so I’ve made the buns with freeze dried strawberries, which also means you can keep making them until long into the winter months. 


Shizuoka Strawberry Buns 


1 Teaspoon of yeast

1 Teaspoon of sugar 

50 ml Warm water

1 kg Spelt flour

60g Butter

10ml Milk

50g Xylitol* (sugar or other sweetener)

40g Freeze dried strawberries

200g Ricotta

1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract

Makes – Six big buns

Time – 1 hr preparation and kneading, plus 20 mins for baking 


Put the sugar and yeast into a measuring jug, add the warm water, stir well and leave for 10 mins.

Warm the butter with the milk in a saucepan, until the butter melts, making sure not to let it boil. 

Sift the spelt flour into a deep mixing bowl.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the yeast water, milk and butter.

Bring the mixture together with the tips of your fingers. The mixture should start to feel like a dough, add a little more milk if needed but the mixture should not be sticky.

Dust the work surface, turn the dough out and knead vigorously for 5-8 minutes. Knead like bread, don’t be too precious as it’s a robust dough!

Then return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel and place somewhere warm for 45mins.

Add the freeze dried strawberries and Xylitol to the dough and knead again.

Divide dough into 6 equal portions and shape into balls.

Pour the vanilla over the ricotta and mix thoroughly.

Then take a ball, make a hole in the centre and spoon in the ricotta. Make sure hole and the ricotta are covered by the dough, shape again if necessary. 

Grease a baking tray and place the balls on, making sure there is plenty of room between each as they will expand during baking.

Then place into a hot oven at 200C and cook for 10 minutes.

Turn the tray if necessary and reduce the heat to 180C, cooking for a further 10 minutes or until the buns are well risen and a light golden brown colour.

Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. The buns are best eaten warm on the day of baking but they are also really good re-heated. In my next post I will encourage you to enjoy autumn in the great outdoors with my recipe for Steamed Shizuoka Strawberry Buns. 

*I use the natural sugar substitute Xylitol in my baking but you can use any sugar or sweetener for this recipe. Though don’t use anything with a strong taste as these buns have a delicate flavour.

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Spurtles: which wood?

I am asked a lot of question on social media about Porridge from what oats to use, to how to avoid Porridge explosions in the microwave. However the most frequently asked questions are always about the Spurtle. 

The Spurtle is often a new piece of cooking kit to Porridge makers, so raises a lots of questions. To answers these questions I’ve written posts on; where to buy a Spurtle, how to compete in the Golden Spurtle, the World Porridge Making Championships and a long post on Spurtle ‘customs, myths and legends‘. 

I thought I’d well and truly covered the Spurtle here on the blog until I was asked a really important question; what wood should a Spurtle be made from? It’s a good question because using the wrong wood for cooking implements can leave you with a Spurtle that discolours or even breaks. To seek an authoritative answer to the question I spoke with Derek Andrews of the Seafoam Woodturning Studio

From his studio in Nova Scotia, Derek makes a range of beautiful wooden home and garden wares but most importantly Derek makes beautiful Spurtles. Derek’s informed advice falls into two categories; 

1 The wood should be durable and closed grain

Derek advises using a wood that does not have large open pores, such as oak, for reasons of hygiene.

2 The wood shouldn’t have a strong odour, or colour

As that might leach out that’s why Derek uses sugar maple in his Canadian workshop. 

So what wood should you choose? In the UK Derek advises choosing a Spurtle made of Beech or Sycamore wood. Derek also suggests Cherry which means I should get into Spurtle production once my orchard is fully established! 

There is one last consideration for your Spurtle; soft or hardwood? Resin in wood can taint foods so it is best to avoid sooftwoods for Spurtles. If you want to read more about resin, tannic acid, the sutainablity and locality of your wood choice have a read of this post that provides a full list of wood choices and their advantages. 

I hope this post helps you find the right Spurtle for you to make the perfect, lump free Porridge. 

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Overnight Oats, a new way with a trusty recipe.

Ages ago I wrote a recipe for ‘Refrigerator Porridge’, a chilled breakfast to enjoy on a hot day. At that time I drew oaty inspiration from the Swiss tradition for Bircher Muesli, where the oats are soaked overnight. Little did I know that a few years later this way of pre-preparing breakfast would turn into the trend of ‘Overnight Oats’.

As the name suggests this way with oats is based on making breakfast, with a whole variety of additions, the night before. Since writing it, I’ve been using my recipe every summer for years so I decided it was time for an update, to get with the overnight oats trend, but still keeping with my tried and tested recipe, adding a little on the way. So if you’ve never tried overnight oats, or have not got on with some of the recipes you have seen on-line,  I hope I can win you over with my simple and dependable recipe;

Refreshed Refrigerator Porridge!


2 cups milk or mylk

2 cups cold water 

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 dessert spoons of chia seeds 

1 cup jumbo oats

1/2 cup rye flakes

1/2 cup barley flakes

1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or freeze dried strawberries

1 tablespoon toasted sunflower & pumpkin seeds

1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

Soft fruits; fresh apricots, peach or nectarine

Serves – Two

Preparation –  Soak overnight, no-cook recipe


In a deep bowl place the milk, cold water and add the Vanilla. Leave to infuse for 5 min.

Add the chia seeds and stir well. 

Then add the oats, rye and barley flakes, making sure that all the flakes are covered.

Add the strawberries and give all the ingredients in the bowl a good stir. I’ve started to use freeze dried strawberries as they give a really intense flavour, but frozen are really handy and fresh in the height of summer, are delicious. 

Cover the bowl and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning wash and slice your chosen soft fruits.

Remove the bowl from the fridge, add the cinnamon, fresh fruits and toasted seeds (I toast a batch ahead of time and store in an airtight container). 

Serve cold and eat on a hot morning.

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