Recipe: Golden Milk Oatmeal

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I was introduced to golden milk during my yoga teacher training; we'd spent the large part of a crisp November day practising outside and spending time in nature, and one of my instructors put on a pot to simmer while we enjoyed a bonfire. I filled my thermos with a ladle-full for the drive home, and it was instant love.

Golden milk is an ayurvedic drink composed of milk (cow, almond or coconut work best), a healthy dose of turmeric, black pepper, and any combination of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and cayenne, simmered in a pot and best served warm. Ayurveda (ayur=life + veda=knowledge) is a sister-system to yoga focused on achieving balance in the body systems through diet and herbal treatments. So, in golden milk, turmeric is the dominant ingredient because of its antioxidant,  antibacterial and antimicrobial properties: it's good for your gut. Turmeric aids digestion and the liver, and has also been known to reduce inflammation and congestion (and coughs and colds). Black pepper increases the body's absorption of turmeric, while spices and sweeteners help to maximize deliciousness.

It's been a tough week around these parts in terms of work and deadlines, fighting off the flu and trying to survive this obscenely cold winter. To shake things up, I decided to try combining golden milk and our typical oatmeal breakfast for an immune boost at the start of the day. The verdict: it was a delicious, nourishing and filling change. Here's the recipe I started with, for two; playing with additional spices and quantities and toppings makes this a super versatile breakfast.

Golden Milk Oatmeal

1 cup fairly quick-cooking oats (I buy Roger's Porridge Oats)*
2 cups almond, coconut or cow's milk (low fat is best)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
sprinkle of black pepper
sprinkle of cayenne

Combine spices and oats together in small pot and stir well. Cover and bring to boil. Let simmer until pot lid rattles (I am a serious cook, I swear); remove from heat and let sit for 3-5 minutes (this will keep oatmeal from burning to the bottom of the pot). Divide into two servings and top with other delicious things; the photo here includes chia seeds, hemp hearts, dates and walnuts. Adding vanilla to the pot with the spices is another option, too. So is experimenting with other grains, like quinoa or barley.

* I know that quicker-cooking oats are much lower in nutrients than steel-cut oats, but on weekday mornings we are in too much of a rush in this house to spend the time cooking oats. Life is about compromise, right?