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How to Eat Muesli Correctly

Angie has been an online writer for more than 9 years and has strong opinions about muesli (and other things).

Should You Serve 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 is 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.

Not Every Cereal Needs Milk

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. There's 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 the 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).

Which Kind of Juice?

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 apples with a wonderfully fragrant flavour). The 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.

How to Make 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 a lack of imagination.

My Base Mix

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 (LDLs).
  • Pumpkin Seeds: lower cholesterol, ward off arthritis, and as a good source of valuable minerals, including zinc.
  • Sunflower: for vitamin 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, and cancer—the list is endless.
  • Nuts: usually walnuts for vitamin 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.

Homemade Muesli Is Economical

Honestly, it may seem expensive at first as you buy all of these ingredients. However, 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 the morning. Storing it properly also means that it will keep for ages; that's good if I ever want a different breakfast for a change.

Juicy blueberries

Juicy blueberries

Sticky dried cranberries

Sticky dried cranberries

Fruit and Nut Add-Ins

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).
  • Pecan Nuts: as these add a lovely hint of coffee that gives depth to the other flavours.
  • Hazelnuts: again, another rich source of vitamin E with its many useful health benefits.

Obviously, one can add any fruit one likes and, of course, experiment with the many different types of nuts available. These are just what I tend to stick to.

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.

Eat Your Muesli in Moderation (It's Filling)

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 are more than enough to set you up until lunchtime. Anything more, and it could seem like you've got a second job.