This food story features my recipe for Bircher Muesli. I included it last year in my story Yoghurt Zest (August 25, 2016). If you missed it then, here it is again (by request) in a stand-alone post.
In addition to Bircher Muesli, this post is about rolled oats, porridge and natural muesli. It includes a snippet of family history and, as a bonus, my recipe for natural muesli.
Have you tried Bircher Muesli?
For me, Bircher Muesli is a relatively new addition to my list of culinary delights.
My husband and I tried Bircher Muesli for the first time in 2008 when we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast (B&B) resort at Uki, near the foot of Mount Warning in Northern New South Wales. Our hosts prepared the most divine breakfasts, which commenced with Bircher Muesli, a fresh fruit compote, plain yoghurt and fruit juice. I took the following photograph of our breakfast table one morning, which I include here as proof.
Bircher Muesli is the ultimate healthy breakfast dish.
The main ingredients of Bircher Muesli are rolled oats and plain yoghurt. Rolled oats and plain (unsweetened) yoghurt are natural foods that contain a high concentration of nutrients, including antioxidants, which puts them both in the superfood category. I wrote previously in Yoghurt Zest about the many benefits and uses of plain yoghurt. In this post, I focus on rolled oats and their health benefits.
Do you know why rolled oats are so wholesome?
Rolled oats have been shown to have a number of health benefits. They contain natural fibre, which is necessary for digestive health. They are also one of the richest sources of a soluble fibre (beta-glucan), which helps the body reduce cholesterol re-absorption. And on top of that, oats are low in sodium (salt), contain essential daily vitamins and minerals, and provide protein and carbohydrate for energy.
Oats are especially desirable as a source of carbohydrate because they have a low Glycemic Index (GI) value. This means that oats are digested, absorbed and metabolised more slowly than many other carbohydrate foods, resulting in a lower and slower rise in blood glucose levels. You’ll feel satisfied for longer.
At the supermarket, in Australia at least, you can buy rolled oats as “traditional” or “quick” oats.
Have you ever wondered if there is any nutritional difference between these two products? If so, be assured, there’s not.
Rolled oats are made from oat groats, that is, the whole grain minus the outer husks. Rolled oats are said to be an 100% grain cereal. The groats include the nutritious oat germ and oat bran as well as the starchy endosperm. To produce the edible rolled oats, the oat groats are steamed then flattened by rolling. Compared with traditional rolled oats, the quick variety are simply oat groats rolled more thinly and cut into smaller pieces. That is the only difference between them.
Do you eat “porridge” for breakfast? I do, in wintertime. It’s another healthy way of eating rolled oats.
My mother and my grandmother always served porridge for breakfast in wintertime. Porridge made using rolled oats was a staple breakfast food in Australia in days gone by. At least during the cooler months.
I remember my mother soaking the rolled oats in water overnight to soften them. In those days (1950s, 1960s), the rolled oats were thicker and tougher than they are today. In the morning, she added milk and a little salt to the softened oats before bringing the mixture to the boil in a saucepan on the stovetop. The mixture was then simmered for about 15 minutes. It had to be stirred constantly to prevent it “catching” on the bottom of the saucepan. The end result was a firm gluey mass. We added warm or cold milk and a teaspoon or two of white sugar to our serving of porridge before “tucking in”.
It’s wintertime in Australia right now, so I make myself a bowl of “porridge” for breakfast most mornings. But it’s not nearly so hard to prepare as it was in my mother’s and grandmother’s day. All I do is place the rolled oats, milk (or water) and a pinch of salt in a bowl in the microwave and cook for about 1½ minutes, stirring once. How times have changed! And today, in lieu of sugar, I add ½ teaspoon of honey as a sweetener.
Natural muesli is another breakfast cereal that uses rolled oats as the main ingredient.
For 40 years or so I have made my own natural muesli. It’s super easy to make. All you have to do is combine the various ingredients and store the mixture in an airtight container. When my children were little, they didn’t like it much, because it was too “chewy” and not as attractive (to a child) as rice bubbles or corn flakes. But now, as adults, they happily eat it. In fact, my son-in-law asked me for my recipe – he likes it so much.
HOMEMADE NATURAL MUESLI
500 g rolled oats
120 g (1 cup) almond slivers
165 g (1 cup) sunflower and pumpkin seed mix
120 g (1 cup) crushed nuts
200 g (1 cup) sultanas
250 g (2½ cups) oat bran
100 g (1 cup) wheat germ
2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
- Store in a large air-tight container.
- Serve about ½ cup muesli with milk, honey and fresh fruit (as desired).
Finally, here’s my recipe for Bircher Muesli.
My husband and I love this version of Bircher Muesli. My daughter loves it too. Like me, she makes it from time to time as a special breakfast treat for her family. I can guarantee that you will delight your family, or guests, if you serve them the Bircher Muesli featured here.
The recipe I use is the one our Uki B&B hosts passed on to us. I’ve tried Bircher Muesli many times since at various B&Bs and hotels where I have stayed, but none have equalled this version.
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup low-fat plain yoghurt
1/8 cup currants
1/8 cup slivered almonds
2 or 3 dried apricots, chopped finely
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cinnamon
½ Granny Smith apple, skin on, grated
Optional (to serve):
½ banana, sliced or mashed
seasonal berries and mint sprigs
- Combine the rolled oats, orange juice, yoghurt, currants, almonds, apricots, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir well.
- Refrigerate overnight (or for at least 2 hours).
- Before serving, grate the apple and stir through the muesli mixture.
- To serve, place about ¾ cup prepared muesli into a bowl and garnish with fresh fruit, as desired.