Sometime in the early 1900s, a Swiss physician and nutritionist named Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner invented one of the world’s greatest breakfast foods. He called it müesli, and to this day, in Zurich, people call it Birchermüesli, after its creator.
Whenever I visit my friends in Switzerland, I beg them to make me müesli, and I’m always up for trying different restaurant’s versions of it, since no two places make it the same. It’s one of the healthiest, high energy foods that I’ve ever encountered. And it’s guaranteed to power your through your workday.
The word müesli probably brings to mind a granola like food. In part, that’s true. Whole grains are an important part of the dish. When you go to the grocery store and bakery in Switzerland, muesli mixes abound (Trader Joes makes an awesome blueberry müesli mix that I love to use). But these are raw grains, uncooked and needing a little preparation before consumption. You don’t just stick these in a bowl, dump milk on them, and eat them, like a cereal.
Müesli is a mix of yogurt, whole grains, fruit, and nuts. That pretty much covers the food groups, doesn’t it? It’s no wonder that the Swiss will eat it for any meal.
Chari has shown me the proper method, again and again, and I always default to a quick and easy method with whatever I have on hand. But, it still tastes great. Here’s how I generally make the dish.
1 cup plain European style yogurt (the higher the fat, the better!)
½ cup whole grains (oats, barley, wheat germ, and/or rye.
1/8 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds are my favorites)
1 banana, mashed
1/2 cup berries (sliced strawberries, blueberries, and/or blackberries, can be frozen)
1 apple, grated (you can also substitute a finely chopped nectarine or peach)
I add the mashed banana to the yogurt and mix well. Then, I stir the grains in that mix until they are coated. Next, I mix in the nuts. I finally stir in the remainder of the fruit. Depending on the size and quality of the fruit, you can add some lemon juice for a more tart taste or honey for a sweeter taste. Soak the mix overnight in the fridge to soften the grains and blend the flavors.
Chari claims that a sour cream like dairy product called “Quark” also adds a nice flavor and texture to the dish, but it’s really hard to find in the states.
Many of the purist recipes will call for soaking of the grains separately overnight. They’ll tell you to cover the grains with milk, and mix it with everything else the next day. I’m a bit too lazy for the extra step. I prefer to do all the prep work the night before, and I think the grains get soft enough with all the moisture from the fruit and the yogurt. But, I’m also not using really tough grains. If you had some rock hard grains, maybe you’d want to soak them separately.
I had it for breakfast today, and I’m still going strong this evening!