How to Eat Muesli Correctly
Muesli with milk?
As far as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is concerned, muesli is a Swiss breakfast that was never meant to be eaten with milk—and I, for one, am with him on that. Muesli with milk is like chewing your way through the felt covering of a Mongolian yurt and just about as tasty. And as for eating it with yoghurt... just don't get me started. The last thing I need in a morning, when my tongue has the only fur coat I'll ever own, is something thick and clarty (a Yorkshire word sort of meaning muddy or sticky) adhering to it.
The muesli and milk thing, I think, arose from us trying to combine two separate disciplines. It is taking the by-now-standard habit of eating grains with milk, as advocated by Mr Kellogg when he invented cornflakes. Nothing wrong with that ... it can be delicious. But we have automatically transferred the liberal dousing with milk to every other breakfast cereal that has turned up since; even muesli, once it had left its homeland. All I can say is no wonder muesli seems like an acquired taste to many people. Sadly it has gone even further for some and they consider muesli as being only for vegetarian, sandal-wearing, Guardian-reading, knit your own beard types.
Muesli with juice is correct
What I crave in a morning is something fresh and clean tasting and this is where the correct accompaniment to muesli comes in, it's juice. And this opens up a whole new range of possibilities when you think of how many juices there are out there now (and I do mean good quality fruit juice, preferably not from concentrate, as opposed to those fruit drinks which have more sugar, water and flavourings etc. than fruit juice ... as always guys, read the label).
My personal favourite is cloudy apple juice, or Cox's apple juice when I can find it, as it is just a little sweeter. (The Cox is an old variety of English apple with a wonderfully fragrant flavour). Fruit itself adds another dimension and again I find grating a quarter of an apple into the muesli lifts the juicy quotient up another notch. Apple juice tends to strike the right balance because it's less sharp than orange juice but less cloying than some others such as mango or pineapple.
Healthy, homemade muesli
The trouble with a lot of shop-bought muesli is that it often has a lot of extras that not only do you not want but which are usually unhealthy too. Quite apart from the unnecessary additions of sugar and salt, many contain wheat, a grain to which many people have an allergy. Even the slightest intolerance to wheat can result in bloating and other gastric discomforts. Wheat has no place in muesli; muesli is all about oats.
I always use as many organic products as possible and the major component, of course, is oats. Organic 'Jumbo' oats are the best to use in my opinion. Having got this base you can start to create, the only limit is lack of imagination. As a starting point I will tell you what I add to my oats and why I add them. These first six items are my 'base' mix:
Oats: mainly because they produce soluble fibre which helps to regulate 'bad' cholesterol levels (LDL's).
Seeds: Pumpkin: to lower cholesterol, ward off arthritis and as a good source of valuable minerals including zinc.
Sunflower: for Vit E and again as another good source of minerals that help to fight cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Flaxseed: for fibre, omega 3 fatty acids, to help with arthritis, cholesterol, menopause, hypertension, cancer - the list is endless.
Nuts: usually walnuts for Vit E and for their cardiovascular benefits and possible protection against Type 2 diabetes.
Raisins: for boron, a bone mineral, and antioxidants that could help with macular degeneration amongst many other things. And also to add a touch of sweetness.
Now, before some of you write to me to say some of these benefits are only, as yet, conjecture, I would like to point out that my health will not wait until science gets its finger out and finds a way of proving these hypotheses. I would rather eat them now and trust that they are providing healthy, balanced nutrition to my poor old body.
Muesli is economical
Honestly, even though it may seem expensive at first as you buy all of these ingredients. When you have mixed them all up together you will find you have an awful lot of muesli so good storage is a must. I keep mine in Kilner jars ready to grab off the kitchen shelf in a morning. Storing it properly also means that it will keep for ages; good if I ever want a different breakfast for a change.
Breakfast need never be dull
Once you have your personal base mix, you can go as mad as you like with the add-ons. I tend to stick with the antioxidant approach whilst trying to get as many of my 5 a day in at one go. So along with a quarter of an apple I will add:
Blueberries: one of the all-singing, all-dancing berries that protects against nearly everything.
Cranberries: again, full of phytonutrients but with the added benefit of being useful against urinary tract infections. (This is supposedly not yet borne out by science which would prefer us to still buy expensive drugs. However as someone who drinks cranberry juice at the first twinge of infection I can vouch for its immediate and beneficial curative action).
Obviously one can add any fruit one likes and of course, experiment with the many different types of nut available. I tend to stick to:
Pecan nuts: as these add a lovely hint of coffee that gives depth to the other flavours.
Hazelnuts: again another rich source of Vit. E with its many useful health benefits.
The benefits of a good breakfast
Studies have time and time again proved that having a decent breakfast is vital for health. In fact it could well be the most important meal of the day. It is thought that not only does it give your brain that all important shot of nutrition to wake it up after sleep but it may also protect against heart attacks and the development of diabetes. It also seems likely that people who make time for breakfast are less prone to obesity and that can only be a good thing.
However, there is one thing I should warn you about before you rush out to the shop. You do not need, nor should you attempt to eat, a full bowl of muesli as shown in TV commercials for breakfast cereals. Four or five dessert spoonfuls is more than enough to set you up until lunchtime. Anything more and it could seem like you've got a second job.
- BBC NEWS | Health | Breakfast is \'most important meal\'
Eating breakfast is the secret to staying healthy, according to evidence unearthed in the US.