Bircher muesli aka the original overnight oats. Overnight oats before they became groovy and 'hip with it'.
Totally kidding, I adore overnight oats, as I do bircher muesli. Not only are these breakfasts delicious, but they're also super speedy to make - preparation is quick, with most done the night before, making them perfect on mornings you don't have much time to dedicate to breakfast.
What is bircher muesli?
A type of muesli that's soaked overnight (or twelve hours), and then enjoyed fresh the next morning.
Historically, bircher was introduced by Swiss Physcican Maximailian Bircher-Benner in the 1900's for his hospital patients and, get this, was the first documented 'muesli' ever. Originally, it was a concoction of soaked oats, grated apple, and nuts, a little lemon juice and cream - the dish was interestingly more 'fruit' than 'grain', with the original recipe having just one tablespoon of oats to a whole grated apple. With its easy-to-digest and refreshing texture, pre-soaked bircher has all the comfort of oats, but leaves you feeling light - perfect for warmer weather.
The modern form of muesli, and how we eat it, has considerably changed - there are endless boxes of dried varieties lining our supermarket shelves, with nutritional quality being a mixed bag. Many are highly processed, high in sugar, and devoid of fresh fruit; while others, like those less processed and rich in nuts and seeds, still present as a good convenience option. However, bircher muesli stands the test of time as a popular breakfast option, and one you can make at home, without defaulting to a boxed variety.
Why soak? To soak or not to soak
In general, soaking muesli isn't a prerequisite for eating muesli - however some grains and seeds may have increased nutrient availablity and digestibility when softened by soaking, which has nutritional advantage. In the case of bircher muesli, it's always soaked for this purpose.
An adapted bircher muesli recipe
The version below differs from the original recipe, but has much the same context - it's still soaked overnight, still contains oats and fresh fruit, and still really delicious. I've made a few subs and changes - more oats, yoghurt for cream, and have introduced some nourishing fat sources, like chia seeds, linseeds and coconut. Yum. Enjoy!
(An Adapted) Bircher Muesli
1/3 cup oats
2/3 cup milk (e.g. almond, rice, dairy...)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp linseeds
1 tbsp shredded coconut
1 handful fresh frozen berries (e.g. raspberries, blueberries, mixed berries...)
3 tbsp plain greek yoghurt
1 grated apple or pear
Sprinkle of cinnamon
2 tbsp nuts/seeds (e.g. sliced almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds...)
1. The night before breakfast: add to a bowl the oats, milk, chia seeds, linseeds, coconut and berries. Mix well, cover, and pop in the fridge overnight. If you're going to be eating on-the-run, pop it all into a travel container ready to go the next morning.
2. Morning of: the oat mixture will have soaked up the liquid overnight and will be stiff. To loosen again dollop over the oats plain greek yoghurt and grated apple, and mix well until smooth! Add a sprinkle of cinnamon and tbsp nuts/seeds, and then dive in with a spoon. Or if eating on-the-run, pop on the container and take with you out the door.
- This recipe is forgiving. Feel free to mix and match berries - I tend to use frozen for this, especially as they help keep the muesli at a cooler temperature when taking it on the run. Go for whatever nuts/seeds you have on hand!