Birchermüesli is one of the traditional Swiss foods, loved by old and young alike; we eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner (on a hot day - so good!) or as a snack. It contains all the magic ingredients you want in a healthy food; it is high in protein, whole grains, healthy fats, fiber, phytonutrients, health-promoting bacteria and deliciousness!
Most Americans don't know that this food has a long and somewhat controversial history. Birchermüesli was invented around the turn of the century by physician Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner (1867-1939), a pioneer of naturopathic medicine and whole foods diet. By introducing the idea of having a small bowl of rolled oats and raw apples before most meals, Dr. Bircher went against the medical theory of the time that food needed to be thoroughly cooked to be healthy. He also suggested that cereals, fruits and vegetables are a more valuable food than meat. At that time meat was regarded as the best suited and most valuable food for humans, and vegetables and fruits were considered food of the poor people. Bircher encountered quite a bit of resistance with his new ideas; his professional colleagues did not agree with his points of view, scorned his meatless meals and often walked out of his talks to show their disapproval. But Bircher was not swayed!
He also felt that health care should include more than just medical treatments. In 1897, Bircher founded a health clinic in Zürich, where he practiced holistic medicine. During their stay at his clinic his patients were served a whole foods diet, took a daily walk, bathed (hydrotherapy) and sunbathed and made use of the clinic's exercise equipment. Clearly he was way ahead of his time!
There is a little twist to the story; some say that the original Birchermüesli was a Swiss mountain food. The claim goes that Dr. Bircher was hiking in the mountains, stopped off at a mountain hut and was presented with a meal which was quite foreign to him. Maybe he only ate this mixture of raw, grated apple, oat flakes, nuts, lemon juice, yogurt and milk as a gesture of good manners. But then again, maybe the friendly Alpine woman was able to convince him that this müesli was the magic potion of the mountain farmers! We will never know. But one thing is for sure; a well made Birchermüesli is the ultimate whole foods delight!
- 1.5 cups of rolled oats (for a hardy version) or quick oats. I like the rolled oats the best and the original muesli recipe calls for that. If you buy a pre-made muesli mix, make sure it does not contain cereal flakes as this will make for a very mushy muesli!
- 2 grated apples
- Fresh berries and/or fresh fuit; I used 3 apricots, cut into chunks and 1/2 basket of strawberries and 1 basket of raspberries. You can use whatever is in season, including bananas, some even like citrus fruit.
- 1/4 cup of nuts, hazelnuts are especially good.
- 1/4 cup of roughly ground flaxseed
- 12 oz of plain yogurt
- 1 cup of milk or soymilk or rice dream
- Juice from one lemon
- Honey or other sweetener (optional)
- Mix oats and milk and let sit for about 5 minutes to soften the oats
- Add yogurt and lemon juice and blend well
- Add all the other ingredients
Makes 4 portions.
You can also make a larger amount and eat the left overs for the next two days.