Bircher muesli aka the original overnight oats. Overnight oats before they became groovy and hip with it.
Kidding, I adore overnight oats, as I do a good bircher. Not only are these breakfasts delicious, but they're also super speedy to prep in the morning, with most of the work done the night before. This makes them perfect on mornings that you don't have much time to dedicate to breakfast, and need to get out the door pronto!
Bircher muesli - a venture back in a time
Bircher muesli is a type of muesli soaked overnight (or around twelve hours - but if you use oats that are more finely milled, you can get this down to just a few hours!), to be enjoyed fresh the next day. With its easy-to-digest texture, it has all the comfort of traditional oats, but leaves you feeling somewhat lighter - perfect for warmer weather.
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. In its infancy, it was originally a concoction of soaked oats, grated apple, nuts, a little lemon juice and splash of cream; with the ratio being in favour of more 'fruit' than 'grain' - the original recipe had just one tablespoon of oats to a whole grated apple!
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, probiotic-rich yoghurt instead of cream, and the introduction of nourishing fat sources, like chia seeds, linseeds and coconut, to help keep you feeling full for longer.
Why soak? To soak or not to soak
In general, soaking muesli isn't a prerequisite for eating it- however some grains and seeds may have increased nutrient availability and digestibility when softened by soaking, which has nutritional advantage. In the case of bircher muesli, it's always soaked for this purpose.
Spotlight on fibre
I ran the numbers, and each serving has a little over 17g dietary fibre per serving - phwoooor that’s decent! Your gut will be stoked. Current dietary fibre daily recommendations sit at 25-30g for adults (25g for females/30g for males in NZ) - so a bowl of this will help you leap bounds towards that!
Fibre is an indigestible part of carbohydrate-rich foods, and is typically synonymous with keeping us ‘regular’. Like an internal broomstick, it passes through our digestive system helping to speed the passage of waste - but it also has a whole lot of other benefits, like assisting blood sugar level regulation (slowing the absorption of sugars), feeding our gut bugs who in turn will do handy internal biological work for us, helping to keep us feeling full for longer and softening our stools making them easier to pass (gross, I know, but great!).
Fibre-rich Bircher Muesli
1/3 cup wholegrain oats
2/3 cup milk (e.g. almond, rice, dairy...)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp linseeds
1 tbsp shredded coconut
1 handful fresh or frozen berries (e.g. strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, mixed berries...)
3 tbsp plain greek yoghurt (or sub for coconut yoghurt if dairy-free/vegan)
1 grated apple or pear
Sprinkle of cinnamon
2 tbsp nuts/seeds/coconut (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!