At the beginning of the 20th century, a Swiss physician named Maximilian Bircher-Benner devised a breakfast for hospital patients made with apples, nuts, cream, and rolled oats that had been soaked overnight. He named it Müesli, meaning “mush,” and believed it to contain restorative properties for the body. We know today, thanks to modern science, that Bircher-Benner was on to something: Oats are low-glycemic, rich in magnesium, and contain beta-glucans, a soluble fiber that slows the absorption of carbohydrates in the bloodstream. According to popular theory, the recipe was a variation of an ancient dish he and his wife discovered while trekking in the Swiss Alps.
Today, muesli is eaten across the world, but much of it comes prepackaged like cereal or granola. That said, making it from scratch is often cheaper — most of the ingredients can be purchased in bulk — and healthier. When oats are soaked overnight in yogurt or milk (or lacto-fermented), their natural starches and sugars break down, making them much easier for your body to digest. The best part? When morning rolls around, they’re just as instant as Frosted Flakes. See below for the recipe, published here from Life in Balance ($30), a new cookbook from the two-time James Beard Award-nominated writer and food stylist Donna Hay.
Power Seed Bircher with Maple Vanilla Yogurt
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/3 cup linseeds (flaxseeds)
1/2 cup rolled spelt oats
1 1/2 cups milk or nut milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
1 firm pear, grated
raspberries to serve
1 cup plain Greek-style (thick) yogurt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1. Place the sunflower seeds, pepitas, linseeds and oats in a large bowl.
2. Add the milk, cinnamon and honey and mix to combine. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
3. To make the maple vanilla yogurt, place the yogurt, maple syrup and vanilla in a bowl and mix to combine.
4. Add the pear to the bircher and stir to combine.
5. Spoon the bircher into serving bowls or jars and top with yogurt and raspberries to serve.
The following recipe appears in Life in Balance by Donna Hay, published Fourth Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins. Buy Now: $30