One of my most favourite things to eat. Ever. I may have mentioned this before. Can’t live without it, really. It’s my spirit level. I’m talking about muesli, of course. I don’t get into the toasted stuff, granola. But I have been getting more and more into bircher muesli, which is basically rolled oats and various add-ins which have been soaked overnight. I usually drag my heels around buzzwords like ‘superfoods’, but nearly everything that goes into a bowl of good ol’ bircher is in this nutritional super-league. Allow me… oats, high in fibre with antioxidant properties. Honey, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties and is often combined with honey as a traditional remedy for colds, or on its own to help digestion. Yoghurt with live cultures regenerates good bacteria in the digestive system. Add chia or sunflower seeds (high in Omega 3 fatty acids), almonds (28 essential nutrients including Vitamin E) and blueberries (antioxidants) and you’ve got a bowl of way-too-yummy-to-be-this-good-for-you.
So, why soaked oats? In traditional food cultures, wholegrains have always been soaked overnight, sprouted or even fermented for several days before being eaten. Grains prepared in this way are a lot gentler on the digestive system. It’s only in recent years that traditional methods of soaking, sprouting and fermenting wholegrains have fallen by the wayside. *Excuse me while I let my nutrition-geekery out for a stroll.* All grains contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, which unless broken down first, can block the absorption of nutrients such as zinc and iron and interfere with digestion. The soaking process neutralises phytates and enzyme inhibitors, in effect, ‘pre-digesting’ grains. The Weston Price Foundation has a great read on soaking grains. According to some, a diet high in unfermented wholegrains may lead to deficiencies, bone loss and digestive problems. Eek. Not keen to test that theory!
Anyway, fast forward to the good stuff. I was going to say that this muesli tastes like apple crumble with cream, but that’s more true of the unsoaked version of this muesli. The bircher is more like a sexed-up rice pudding, flecked with green apple and cinnamon goodness. Oh, how do I love thee?! I always have a large container of muesli on the shelf, and each night throw enough in a bowl with water (or sometimes half water/half milk) for the next morning. Easy. The quantities below will make enough for a week or more of breakfasts – just soak what you need the night before.
A generous cup of muesli should be enough for two people for breakfast, though you may need more for big breakfast eaters. You can soak the muesli in all water, all milk, or a half/half mix. Milk makes it creamier. Serve with fresh or dried fruit – great with blueberries, and dried apricots which have been soaked in water overnight – it helps rehydrate and plump them up.
750g rolled oats
big scoop of pepitas
big scoop of sunflower seeds
big scoop of sultanas or currants
scoop of almonds, walnuts or pecans or a mix of these
3 tbspn chia seeds
The night before:
1 generous cup of muesli
1 small cup of water or milk (just enough to cover)
generous shake of cinnamon
In the morning:
1 green apple, grated (leave skin on)
yoghurt, honey, cinnamon and fruit to serve
Mix muesli ingredients together and store in an airtight container.
The night before, place a generous cup of muesli in a ceramic bowl and cover with water and/or milk. Cover (I use a snug fitting saucer) and place in the fridge.
In the morning, grate a green apple and stir this through the muesli. Place muesli in bowls, sprinkle with cinnamon and serve with yoghurt, honey and fruit.