This dish was developed in the early 1900s by one of the first vegetarian doctors. Bircher-Benner (1867-1939), a Swiss physician, conducted numerous nutritional experiments using whole, raw foods to heal the sick human body. Unorthodox for this time period, Dr. Bircher-Benner insisted that his patients consume at least 50 per cent raw fruits, vegetables and nuts. He believed strongly that individuals should focus less on meat and more on the vegetarian diet as a way of maintaining good health.
This muesli cereal was created to help heal patients in Dr. Bircher-Benner’s private clinic. There are many different versions, but I have chosen to adapt my (Swiss) mother-in-law’s recipe. This recipe is uber-delish as a dessert, breakfast, or even supper! We have had it a gazillion times on super hot days down at the dock at our family cottage. Birchermuesli is super easy and doesn’t require hours of dish washing afterwards. Gotta love that!
Be creative and have fun with it by tossing in whatever nuts, seeds, and seasonal fruits you have in your fridge. Try soaking your raw nuts and seeds first in the fridge overnight to increase their digestibility. Rinse them in the morning, then toss them in your bowl. Dr. Bircher-Benner also suggested using dried fruits like prunes, apricots or raisins during the winter months. If you’re like me and don’t mind the kids being adventurous in the kitchen, ask them to make it for you while you sit back and enjoy the morning paper. You may be surprised with what they create in their bowls. Another great thing about this dish is that it fills the belly, so there’s no need to make anything else.
- 1 tbsp. per person of uncooked, pure oats*
- milk* – enough to cover oats for soaking
- 1 cup yogurt*
- 1 grated apple or chopped apple
- 1 grated or chopped banana
- lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. agave or maple syrup (optional)
- chopped or grated raw nuts
- seasonal fruit (if using berries, smash a few first)
- sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
In a large bowl, soak the oats in milk while you prepare your fruit and nuts. Grate or chop an apple and cover it in a bit of lemon juice to avoid browning. Chop or grate your chosen nuts, banana, and/or any other fruit you wish to add. Scoop your yogurt into the large bowl and stir. Add your nuts, fruit, and sweetener. Give it another stir. Add some berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon for presentation and…. voila! You are now ready to serve!
*There has been much discussion over the years on the consumption of oats in the gluten free diet. The reason for this is that some commercial brands of oats have been cross contaminated with gluten-containing grains such as, wheat, barley and/or rye. In 2007, The Canadian Celiac Association issued a position statement on the safety of pure, uncontaminated oats. It reads, “Clinical evidence confirms that consumption of pure, uncontaminated oats is safe in the amount of 50 to 70 grams per day (1/2 – 3/4 cup dry rolled oats) by adults and 20 to 25 grams per day (1/4 cup dry rolled oats) by children with celiac disease.” Only Oats (a Canadian product!) and Bob’s Red Mill Oats are two brands that we use in our kitchen. Bob’s Red Mill Oats are now readily found in most grocery stores.
*My preferred milk choice is almond milk. I love the taste and it has more protein than the other milks. I have recently discovered amande (cultured almond milk) in my local grocery store and, oh my…..it’s delicious! I now use amande as my yogurt in this recipe, but you can use soy yogurts as well.