The Health Benefits of Bircher Muesli and How to Make It
What Is Bircher Muesli?
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. He discovered the remarkable benefits of a balanced diet of raw vegetables and fruit and regulative therapy.
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. 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.
What follows here is an adapted Bircher recipe, which is incredibly tasty and brimming with energy! Included at the end is the original Bircher muesli.
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. Eating them at breakfast is an amazing way to start the day!
The Adapted Bircher Muesli Recipe
The following recipe is for two people, but if you don't feel like measuring the precise quantities, it doesn't actually matter. Varying ingredients to suit oneself, more apple than bananas, for example, is absolutely fine, as we all have different taste buds!
Bircher muesli can be made with fruit juice or rice milk. Some people might even prefer using soya milk. The original recipe used water and cream. Trying out different combinations of ingredients will eventually reveal which combination you prefer!
This recipe uses walnuts, but the original used almonds. You can also mix-and-match fruits. Blueberries are sure to taste fantastic. However, stay away from fruits which are too sharp in taste (e.g. pineapple) as they might compete with the taste of the sultanas.
What is your usual breakfast food?
Typical Ingredients for Bircher Muesli
- Rice milk or orange juice
- 3 or 4 large scoops of oats
- A handful of sultanas
- 2 apples
- 1 banana
- 6 strawberries
- Handful of walnuts
- 1/2 of a lemon
Bircher muesli needs to be prepared the night before, to ensure the sultanas become soft and juicy.
The night before:
- Measure out the oats in a large mixing bowl.
- Mix in the sultanas with the oats.
- Add the rice milk (or fruit juice/water) without reaching the top of the oats and stir it all together. If it seems a little dry, add some more, but make sure the oats and sultanas are not completely swamped. The oats will soak up a lot of the liquid overnight. See the picture above below an idea of how much.
- Cover and leave overnight in the fridge or cool place.
In the Morning
Assemble the fruits and nuts you wish to use...
- Grate the apple, including the skin (some people grate everything, including the pips).
- Chop up and add a banana. Cutting the banana length-ways first and then sideways ensures nice sized pieces that mix in well.
- Chop up the walnuts into small pieces and add.
- Chop the strawberries and add.
- Squeeze half a lemon and add. As well as adding a great freshness, the lemon will stop the apple going brown if you can't have breakfast quite yet.
- Mix it all together. Serve into bowls, it's now ready to eat!
The Original Bircher Recipe
The original recipe was not so different, with the exception of the addition of cream. Sweetened condensed milk was used due to health fears over using milk (due to bovine tuberculosis). Perhaps rice milk or soya milk would have been used by Bircher had it been available at the time! In those days, Europe would have had less access to exotic fruits from abroad as well.
The original ingredients were:
- 1 large grated apple
- 1 tablespoon of cream
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of ground hazelnuts or almonds
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. They are a high-calorie and heart-healthy high-fat food. They also contain 4.32 grams of protein and 1.9 grams of fiber, making them a satisfactory snack on their own.
- Without added sugar or honey, it helps with diabetes control.