Homemade Muesli: A Quick Healthy Breakfast
When my brother and I were little, we occasionally ate a muesli cereal called Familia. My brother loved it; I thought it was pretty good if I picked out the raisins. Years later, I started eating my own version of muesli on pretty much a daily basis. Some time after that, I realized that what I was eating was muesli!
The process of creating thecereal had not been entirely conscious. I liked eating oatmeal, but not necessarily cooked. (Why not just toss some sort of milky substance on it instead?) Then I started experimenting with adding different things to it, for health as well as taste. And, by gummit, it was muesli!
May may be here with its warm days, but this is no time to stop eating oatmeal. No, it's time to do it the cool way: uncooked. There are different ways to make muesli, and some take more advance preparation than others. The focus here is on making it quick as well as healthy.
The basics of muesli: Rolled oats and sometimes other whole grains. Seeds or nuts. Fruit (most often dried).
Everything gets soaked in milk (or some such thing) instead of cooked... a cold oatmeal concoction.
A Note About Oats
And other grains
What kind of oats to use in muesli? Any! As you move along the continuum from steel cut to rolled to quick to instant, the oats get a little more processed -- but not a lot. They also require less soaking time. If you are using instant oats, you need virtually no soaking time.
There can be some advantages to a coarser oat and a longer soaking time. The oats get bulkier, so you may prefer them if you're watching your weight. Muesli purists often like their cereal a bit crunchy. (I think it tastes good mushy.)
If you want to maximize nutrition and fiber, but still prefer a softer cereal and less soak time, though, you can add a bit of ground oat bran.
Then there are other grains: Purists also tend to like more than one grain in their cereal. Country Choice makes a four grain blend that can be bought at common stores like Trader Joe's ($2.29 a canister). It's coarsely textured.
This is the way I make it -- one of the ways, at least! Of course any of the ingredients can be substituted. You can also use any milk or milk substitute -- I think the coconut milk adds something, though. Coconut milk has more saturated fat than other substitutes (25% DV in a full glass) but there are studies indicating that medium chain fatty acids can have health benefits. I'm vegetarian and see no problem with using coconut milk in cereal and coffee.
Prep Time: 2-3 minutes
Total Time: Less than 5 minutes
- Instant oats
- Dried cranberries
- Pumpkin seeds
- Flax seeds
- 'Red' nutrition powder
- So Delicios coconut milk
- White chocolate chips (optional)
- Pour an ounce or so of oats into a bowl.
- Pour a few ounces of coconut milk on it.
- Add a small spoon of the health powder. (It adds a bit of sweetener.)
- Toss in a tablespoon or so each of dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle some flax seeds in.
- Optional: Add a bit more sweeter (Truvia or Sucralose)
Mystery Ingredient #1
This has an impressive list of whole food nutrients (probiotics, antioxidants, herbs) but I wouldn't exactly call it cheap... even when it shows up at the Grocery Outlet. The thing is, you can choose to use less than what the package recommends. It suggests a tablespoon, but I use less than a teaspoon in my cranberry muesli. The mix has fruit powder and stevia so it sweetens oatmeal or muesli as well adding a nutrition boost.
Advantages to Making Your Own Cereal
Controlling nutrition (for allergies, diabetes, or other chronic conditions)
With homemade cereal, you have control over the nutrition -- and that can be a good thing if you have any allergies or chronic conditions. There are two reasons I don't like to used flavored oatmeals -- including high-end healthy ones with lots of vitamins added. It's not just a matter of adding one more source of sugar into my diet. It's adding one more source of calcium!
A lot of us have metabolic irregularities; we don't necessarily want to take a multivitamin or have one added to our cereal. I suspect many more people have ones they haven't identified yet (ie it's not triggered by wheat or caffeine but rather by things no one ever told them to watch out for). It was after buying a 'bone and joint' drink mix that I realized that calcium was a big issue for me. I started to see a connection between eating or drinking things that were calcium-enriched and getting body aches or stomach cramps... and feeling my mind start to rev up. I looked on the internet and saw that, yes, there are other people here and there who have found that calcium supplements made them achy or anxious.
Some fortified oatmeal products have up to 30% of the DV... before you pour anything on it. My cereal is low in calcium, but (when I add pumpkin seeds), it's high in magnesium. I've had intermittent chronic pain episodes since my late 20's, and magnesium helps. My cereal is customizable when it comes to nutrition as well as taste... not bad.
Embrace the Unexpected
Muesli for Kids
You can store muesli in a bowl with a lid on it for kids. You can also have them measure out (and select) ingredients.
I think it's a good idea to get input from children about their favorite fruits and seeds. I also think it's good to allow them a little sweetener -- plain malted milk powder, perhaps -- and a 'fun' item. It will still be far more nutritious than many of the cereals out there. I was at Trader Joe's today and took note of the chocolate covered sunflower seeds -- yes, in a rainbow of (natural) colors. "That has possibilities I was thinking," I was thinking. My brother wishes his little girls (seven and three) had healthier tastes. it doesn't help that they're so often on the go. I plan to try out a kid's muesli recipe on them, but since they're far away, it may be a while before they taste test it.
Another muesli-appropriate "fun item" from Trader Joe's? Chocolate covered pomegranate seeds!
Kid-Friendly Muesli with Dried Cranberries and Candy Coated Sunflower Seeds
Bowls with Lids - For kid's breakfast on the go
Store child size portions of muesli in a bowl either dry (in the pantry) or moistened (overnight in the fridge). You can also pack their breakfast.
Mystery Ingredient #2 - Especially for the younger set
No, this is not the chocolate milk mix... it's the original plain Ovaltine, made from malted grain. I have indeed used it to sweeten muesli; I mixed up a whole canister of the concoction (maybe two canisters). I admit I was first inspired when I saw Ovaltine at the (discount) Grocery Outlet -- I wouldn't have gotten quite so inspired at Safeway -- but I give the stuff a thumbs up. It's not out of context in a bowl of slightly sweet grains... and it's more nutritious than the average sweetener. I think I'll use it for the kids' muesli. (I would suggest using less of it than if you were making malted milk.)
About Those "Mystery Ingredient" Muesli Sweeteners...
What do you think of the choice of 'mystery ingredient' sweeteners?
Muesli Ingredients by Store: Trader Joe's
Here are some muesli ingredients that are reasonably priced at Trader Joe's. (In the case of dried fruit, some are good deals while some are pretty expensive. As for the sunflower seed concoction, a little goes a long way.)
- Country Choice rolled oats (canister)
- Country Choice four grain (canister)
- Dried Fruit
- Flax seeds
- Multicolored chocolate covered sunflower seeds (mainly for kids)
More Quick and Easy Muesli Recipes
- Five Muesli Recipes
Five very varied muesli recipes with some good tips and background info.
- Spicy Muesli
A muesli that's spicy but not sweet
- Muesli Variations
Not a recipe per se, but a lot of creative ideas for making muesli.
- Mix and Match
Muesli really mix and match. This writer suggests making a jar of it with three cups of grains and one each of nuts, seeds, and dry fruit
- Pumpkin Pie Oats
This vegan chef calls it 'overnight oats' -- but I call it muesli. This variation is significantly different. There's some pumpkin puree in it. The recipe also calls for several pumpkin pie spices. The recipe will take a little more time than some, b