i’ve been on a bit of a muesli binge the last couple of days. can’t tell whether it’s the lure of plump, soft oats (i LOVE oats) or the pleasure of having some good fresh fruit after days of nutella and bread but i’m loving a big, white bowlful, all to myself (greedy, eh?).
a good bircher muesli is a beautiful thing. i don’t think it is switzerland’s national dish, but perhaps it should be, because it is so ubiquitous – you can find it anywhere. i really got a taste for it when i was in hospital after having lola. i always chose it for breakfast, and it would arrive in a glass bowl, fresh-fruity, yoghurty and with a cup of tea. it was all i needed to keep me going until lunch time. any other breakfast, be it gipfelis (crosissants), bread, jams etc etc always left my stomach grumbling an hour later. for some reason i have a super-fast metabolism in the morning and this was the only thing that made the grade. oh, how i have searched over the years to find something which keeps me going until lunch time….. cos when i get hungry, i get really, really GRUMPY. and IRRITABLE. and HORRIBLE (just ask max and bruno, and oh, just about every other person who has had the misfortune to face me in the morning). so you understand how imperative it has been to find this one crucial meal, and how delighted i was to find that THIS IS THE ONE THAT WORKS FOR ME. hooray!
bircher (beer-cher, not birch, as in tree) muesli was developed by dr. maximilian brenner-bircher at his diet clinic/sanitorium somewhere in switzerland in 1887 and named ‘bircher muesli’ in 1924. there are lots of versions around, including ones with all sorts of creamy additions which i’m sure dr. bircher would never have approved of. the original recipe involved just a tablespoon of oats and a grated apple, but it has since evolved to something a little more fulfilling (thank goodness i’m not a purist when it comes to bircher muesli). here is a rough guide to a good morning bircher muesli to get you going and keep you going:
oats – whatever size or cut you fancy. purists would plump for rolled rather than steel-cut but phooey. can also use other grains such as barley or whatever. there used to be a 5-grain mix at macro wholefoods in sydney i used to get.
apple juice or milk (milk gives you a milder muesli)
lemon juice (if you aren’t using milk)
yoghurt – plain or flavoured. i used to look down on flavoured yoghurts with haughty disdain, but i have since been won over to the dark side since being confronted with so many delicious flavours here in CH (my faves: belle hélène, fig + orange, rhubarb + vanilla, peach melba, hazelnut). also because i couldn’t find a good thick greek-style natural yoghurt.
an apple, grated
other fresh fruit -whatever you have on hand, is in season, and is ripe. berries are excellent, so are bananas, pears, nectarines, plums, peaches, blueberries, even apples (chopped, in addition to the grated).
maybe some dried fruit, esp. figs (these are VERY good) or apricots
also nuts, if you like
– soak oats/other grains in apple juice + a few squeezes of lemon juice, or milk overnight, or at least for an hour or so (the oats are softer and more digestible when plumpened with some apple juice or milk). don’t put too much liquid in, just enough to make it quite moist. then cover and leave. i cover the bowl with a plate and bung it in the fridge, but you can leave it out if it’s not too hot (perhaps not if you are using milk tho).
– next morning, take out the bowl and stir it all up. add grated apple (we have a spiffy special glass apple grater, kind of like a ginger grater). stir.
– add yoghurt. i like mine to be just on the stiff side of sloppy (does that make sense?!).
– add fruit and/or chopped nuts. don’t stir too much for the soft fruits, you don’t want them to dissolve!
– sometimes i also add some ground unhulled almonds or hazelnuts, for extra ooomph.
– eat. with coooooffeeeeee. or a cup of hot tea (in a white cup, if you please. it just tastes better).
– doesn’t that taste good? and i bet you won’t feel those pesky hunger pangs for hours and hours and hours!