Even (or especially?) crazy-busy people need a decent meal to start their day. Bircher Muesli to the rescue!
This breakfast dish is inspired by a preparation pioneered in 1900 by the Swiss doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner for the patients of his Zurich sanatorium, where a diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables was an essential part of the treatment. While I am not a promoter of raw-food diets (esp. in the winter, when most of our food should be cooked), I make an exception for this delicious and nutritious dish, which can be enjoyed throughout the year.
In contrast to most store-bought cereals, this dish largely consists of kefir (a fermented dairy product that tastes like buttermilk and is a rich source of probiotics, protein, calcium and vitamin K2), yogurt (ditto), seeds, nuts and fruit, with grains playing tasty but minor supporting role. Its wealth of healthy fats, protein, soluble fiber and healthy bacteria makes this a super-nourishing start to the day that will keep you going ’til lunchtime.
Bircher muesli is particularly suitable for people seeking to improve their blood lipids, for oats, healthy fats, probiotics, cinnamon and apples can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Anyone suffering from constipation may also find this dish, with its high fiber content and wealth of probiotics, helpful.
For added convenience, you can prepare a large batch and store it in the fridge for four to five days, simply topping it with fresh fruit and nuts when you are ready to eat.
Bircher Muesli (overnight oats)
- 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free, if desired)
- 1 tbsp sunflower seeds (shelled)
- 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (shelled)
- 1 apple (with peel, if organic)
- pinch ground cinnamon
- pinch lemon zest
- 1 cup kefir (unflavored, unsweetened)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt (unflavored, unsweetened)
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp raw nuts
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- Combine oats, seeds, apple, cinnamon, kefir, yogurt and maple syrup (if using) in a container, stir to combine, cover tightly and chill overnight (or at least 1-2 hours).
- Transfer to plate or bowl and scatter with fruit and chopped nuts. Serve immediately.
- Lemon Zest: Always buy untreated, organic lemons when using lemon zest, and use a Microplane grater to zest them. It's my favorite kitchen gadget as it produces heart-breakingly delicate shavings of only the aromatic part of the lemon's skin, without the bitter white pith that coarser types of graters produce. (I also use it to grate nutmeg, garlic, ginger and chocolate.)
- Fruits: Berries taste great on Bircher Muesli; I used blueberries in this recipe, but any other berries -- raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc. -- are great too. As are stone fruits (when in season), such as apricots, peaches, and plums. Occasionally, a few slices of banana (no more than 1/2 banana) are delicious. Kiwis and ripe pears work well, too.
- Nuts: Use your favorite nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, etc. They should be as fresh as possible, raw and unsalted.