Do you have any idea what a spurtle is? I didn't, until my friend, Matthew Cox announced he was headed to Scotland to compete for the Golden Spurtle on October 11.

Now, Matt is a smart guy and a fit guy, but the Golden Spurtle contest is not about proving your genius or athletic prowess. It is simply about porridge, more precisely who can make the best porridge. A spurtle turns out to be the wooden stick that's designed to stir oatmeal (much better than getting a spoon all gooey, it seems).

There are categories for straight-up porridge (oats, water, salt) and then there's the freestyle "specialty" category, which might reward recipes like EatingWell's Creamy Date Porridge, Wheat & Dried Fruit Porridge or Creamy Wheat Berry Hot Cereal, which are a whole lot healthier than the other entries for the Golden Spurtle (which have included marzipan, ice cream and whisky.)


Straight up, porridge or oatmeal is a terrific way to get the whole grains and fiber you need into your diet. In fact, recent studies show that a nutrient in whole grains can help you lose weight. Find out what it is and what other foods you should eat to get more into your diet.

Of course, contestants in the Golden Spurtle all have their own secrets for achieving porridge perfection. Last year's winner used water drawn from a 100-foot well that taps into an underground river. Matthew Cox, who works for the grain company Bob's Red Mill, likes to toast his oats before he cooks them to give them a nutty flavor.

So, this weekend I'm going to get me a spurtle, arm myself with porridge recipes and start practicing to see if I can take on Matt next year. If you have any suggestions, send them my way!

Photos courtesy of Bob's Red Mill.