The health benefits of Bircher muesli
A tasty and healthy breakfast alternative
If you've been tiring of eating breakfast cereals first thing in the morning, the original Bircher muesli offers a tasty and healthy alternative.
Bircher muesli, originally brought to the world's attention in about 1900, was created by the Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital. The idea was to provide a nutritious morning food as an aid to therapy. More generally, he went against the grain and suggested that plant based diets are much healthier than meat based diets, something which science is beginning to corroborate.
What we think of as muesli today, is actually a descendant of the original muesli created by Bircher, but quite often with the essential healthy qualities removed, due to the shelf life of products - that is, the fresh fruits. Today's mueslis also often have added salt and sugar, both of which are unnecessary to get a great taste. Even though some manufacturers do provide a healthier alternative (i.e. no added sugar), the obvious drawback is that packaged breakfast cereals don't contain fresh fruit.
Following is the recipe we developed at home (and which is incredibly tasty and brimming with energy!), followed by the original recipe. After getting a taste for Bircher muesli, it's hard to go back and enjoy food from a cardboard box in the same way!
There's nothing healthier than fresh fruits - getting them in at breakfast is an amazing way to start the day!
Our adapted Bircher muesli recipe
This recipe is for two people, but don't worry about quantities too much. The overall effect is generally the same and tastes good.
- Measure out two helpings of oats (one helping equal to what you might have as a small bowl of oats on its own), in a large mixing bowl.
- throw in a handful of sultanas.
- add rice milk (or soya milk - rice milk is nicer in our opinion) so that the oats and sultanas are soaking without being totally lost beneath the milk.
- leave overnight (this is especially necessary if you're using the jumbo variety or organic oats, which definitely need breaking in!), in the fridge or a cool place.
- In the morning, grate an apple (large if possible). Grate the skin as well, as so much nutrition is found in the skin. Some people grate everything, including the pips, which are full of goodness.
- Cut some walnuts (or any other kind of nut, though walnut is especially nice).
- Cut and add a banana.
- Sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice (you can buy ready squeezed lemon juice but it really isn't as nice!).
- Add strawberries or blueberries also if you want - if they're in season
- Mix the whole thing up and enjoy!
The original Bircher recipe
The same procedure as above, but with different ingredients...
Oats soaked in water overnight. In the morning, add:
- 1 large grated apple.
- 1 tablespoon cream.
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
- 1 tablespoon ground hazelnuts or almonds.
We've found that the cream makes the whole thing a bit too guey. Originally, sweetened condensed milk was used, due to health fears over using milk (due to bovine turberculosis). Perhaps rice milk or soya milk would have been used by Bircher had it been available at the time!
Health Benefits of Bircher muesli
- A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cancer and other age-related diseases. Fruits are a source of fibre.
- Oat products have been shown to help lower high blood cholesterol concentration (hypercholesterolemia) and thereby reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis. They are also a source of fibre and essential trace elements, especially whole oats. Also, raw oats contain phytic acid, an essential nutrient which the steam process used to create quick oats destroys.
- Some types of nuts (esp.walnuts) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with numerous health benefits, including the development of the nervous system.
- Without added sugar or honey, it helps with diabetes control.
Bircher muesli is vegetarian and vegan, but can only be considered a raw food if whole oats are used (i.e. non-steamed, non-heated).