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 fruit, vegetables, and fermented whole grains was an essential part of the treatment. While I am not a promoter of raw-food diets (esp. in the winter, when most of us crave cooked, warm foods), I make an exception for this delicious and nutritious, lightly fermented dish, which can be enjoyed throughout the year.
In contrast to most store-bought cereals, this dish largely consists of yogurt (a rich source of probiotics, vitamin K2, protein, and calcium — though plant-based yogurts tend to be low in the latter two), seeds, nuts, and fruit, with grains playing a tasty but minor supporting role. Its wealth of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and healthy bacteria makes this a super-nourishing start to the day that will keep you (and your gut bacteria) going until lunchtime.
Bircher muesli is particularly suitable for people seeking to improve their cardiovascular health, as fiber-rich foods like oats, nuts, seeds, and fruits, as well as plant fats, probiotics, and cinnamon, are thought to help lower LDL cholesterol, inflammation, and blood pressure. Anyone suffering from constipation or other digestive complaints may also find this dish, with its high fiber and polyphenol content and wealth of beneficial bacteria, helpful.
For the sake of 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. Or, stored in individual serving containers (e.g., 1- or 2-cup mason jars) it makes an ideal grab-and-go breakfast for people who eat at work; add the fresh fruit just before you eat this, otherwise it could get soggy and unappetizing.
Bircher Muesli (Overnight oats)
- ¾ cup Greek yogurt plain (or any other yogurt you like -- see note below)
- ¾ cup kefir plain
- ½ serving protein powder optional but makes this dish more satiating. I typically use unsweetened, unflavored, grass-fed whey isolate (here's my favorite brand) or hemp protein powder (here's my favorite brand; tastes a tad bitter compared with whey); you can use any protein powder you love
- 1 medium apple coarsely grated down to the core; leave peel on if organic
- ⅓ cup old-fashioned rolled oats certified gluten-free, if desired
- 3 tbsp mixed seeds e.g., chia, flax, hemp, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin (shelled)
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract optional; preferably alcohol-free
- 2 tbsp raw nuts or low-sugar/sugar-free granola
- ½ cup raspberries other other fruit; see note below
- Combine yogurt, kefir, protein powder, grated apple, oats, seeds, cinnamon and vanilla extract in a container and stir to mix. If the mixture tastes too tart, sweeten with a smidgen of maple syrup or another sweetener of your choice. Cover tightly and chill overnight (or for at least three hours).
- Spoon into a bowl and scatter with berries and chopped nuts or low-sugar granola. Serve immediately.
- Consistency: If you find the consistency of this dish too thick, feel free to add a little milk, kefir , or water to thin it to the desired texture.
- Fruits: Berries taste great on Bircher Muesli; I used raspberries and blackberries to calculate the nutrition information for this recipe, but strawberries and blueberries are delicious, too. Stone fruits, when in season, taste wonderful here, too -- e.g., apricots, peaches, and plums.
- Yogurt: You can make this dish with any type of yogurt you like -- Greek, regular, cow's milk, sheep milk, goat milk, cashew, almond or homemade plant-based yogurt (see my recipe here). Since the grated apple supplies sweetness, I suggest you use unsweetened yogurt. If you're not used to eating this, try a few brands until you find one you like -- some are less acidic than others. You can always add a little extra sweetness, but you can't remove the sugar once it's in there. 🙂