We are creatures of habit when it comes to breakfast. DH has porridge. I have tea and toast. Not every day, you understand. But most days.
His breakfast is healthier than mine, I reckon. I like my toast slathered with butter and jam, so it’s basically a combination of wheat, fat and sugar, all of which have their detractors. His, by contrast, is oats and milk. A sensible start to the day, by anyone’s calculation.
(Incidentally, if you’d like DH’s perfect porridge recipe, finely honed over years of practice, here it is: Put your bowl on the scale, and zero the scale. Add 52g porridge oats, then top up with milk till the scale reads 310g. Cover with a plate, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, microwave on high for 2 minutes, remove the plate and stir, and then microwave for a further minute. Enjoy! But I digress…)
So, I was looking for a healthier breakfast, and my thoughts turned to bircher muesli. Developed in the early 20th century by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner, this essentially raw combination of oats, fruit and dairy products feels like a delicious bowl of healthfulness. It’s a million miles from the dry dusty muesli you get in packets, too, thank heavens. Also known as ‘overnight oats’, bircher muesli is sometimes found on posh hotel breakfast buffets, so it has a vaguely indulgent quality about it too. Lovely.
The good Dr Bircher-Benner apparently used condensed milk and fresh lemon juice in his original version, since pre-pasteurisation, there were concerns about giving raw milk to hospital patients. I, meanwhile, used organic natural yogurt, which gave a thick, creamy texture and a sharp, pleasantly acid taste. For the fruit, I used a combination of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, but you can use just about anything, apparently. Grated apple seems to be a popular addition, although I didn’t fancy it myself.
I topped my bircher muesli with agave syrup, a natural sweetener with a low GI, and some toasted chopped hazelnuts, which added a pleasant crunch. I don’t think I’ll have this every day, but once in a while, it makes a nice change 🙂
Oh, one more thing – bircher muesli is traditionally prepared the night before so the oats have time to absorb the liquid. The internet seems to suggest that modern rolled oats don’t need so much soaking, and that you might get away with as little as 10 minutes. I made mine overnight, so I can’t say, but if you’re in a hurry you might try the ‘almost instant’ version. Let me know if you do in the comments – I’d love to hear how it worked.
- 30g rolled oats
- 160ml natural yogurt
- 50g mixed berries - I used blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
- 1-2 tbsp agave syrup
- 1-2 tsp roasted chopped hazelnuts
- Combine the oats, yogurts and fruit. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Drizzle over the agave syrup, sprinkle with nuts, and serve!