I was asked a while back to write a post about one of the traditional dishes of Switzerland: birchermuesli. It’s taken me a while, but finally, here it is.
Birchermuesli is a very simple, yet nutritious dish that is very often eaten as a light yet complete meal (either for breakfast, lunch, or supper), especially in warm summer days. Once prepared you can refrigerate it and it’ll keep for a few days, making for a very quick and handy snack.
Oats (you can choose whichever kind you prefer, normally, because it’s usually kept for days in the fridge, people opt for thicker cuts of oats, such as coarse or stone-cut oats, rather than instant).
Yogurt (in Switzerland they sell a flavor of yogurt specifically made for birchermuesli, which contains apple and other fruit flavors already blended in, but you can go for natural full fat yogurt, vanilla, or my dad’s favorite: strawberry-rhubarb), in terms of dosage, use double the amount of yogurt to oats, as these will absorb much of the liquid in the former.
Chopped fruit (normally birchermuesli has finelly chopped apple and orange – the latter helps keep the apple from browning – but I’ve seen it with banana, coconut, pineapple, pear, strawberry, even other berries and tropical fruits, such as kiwi and mango, … let your taste-buds decide).
Nuts (we normally put ground hazelnuts, many people use crushed almonds or walnuts, but the choice is yours – I have never had birchermuesli with peanuts, though, and I suspect it’s because they have a very strong taste, which overpowers everything else). If you’re going to be adding nuts, beware that nuts do tend to spoil faster than everything else, and will become softer, so you might want to consider adding the nuts to each cup just before you eat it, rather than mixing it with the yogurt when you prepare your batch.
Extras: you may choose to add power seeds or ancient grains of your choice, my mother used to add some orange juice to help the oats reach satiation before we ingested it, and wheat germ for extra fiber, I guess you could use lemon juice and psyllium husk for the same purposes. Some people add sugar (brown tends to taste better than white), or honey for extra sweetness, but I find that the nuts and fruit do the trick (grated coconut is especially useful to sweeten up your birchermuesli without adding sugar). Some people like to add raisins and sultanas for extra chewiness, others cornflakes or granola for crunch, but I find that these rather distract from an otherwise quite satisfying ensemble of delicate textures and tastes. Berries are always a welcome addition of color and sweetness, especially in season (summer).
Combine all ingredients and mix with a spoon until evenly distributed, let it sit, covered, in the fridge for at least a couple of hours (to let the oats soak in the liquids), and serve cold, in a small bowl or cup. It’s a good idea to prepare this at night for a quick breakfast, as the oats will have all night to absorb much of the liquid coming from yogurt and fruits, as well as their flavor, this will help with digestion as well.
This is a very filling dish, so although you may feel hungry, don’t make yourself more than a small bowl or teacup full, as you might not be able to finish it, no matter how tasty it is! Be reminded that depending on the cut of the oats, and the extra fibres you add to it, you’ll have to keep absorption time into account, so the less time you allow for the juices to sink into the grains, the more they will expand after you ingest them, so be mindful of portions!
We normally made a large bowl and kept it covered in the fridge, from where we took out what we needed and returned the rest back to its cool spot. If you don’t have space, you can prepare jars of it and keep them scattered wherever you find a little corner, organizing your fridge and time that way. I just came across this nice little video on youtube that shows you just how to do that (although it isn’t the traditional Swiss muesli I just described, it gives you a very quick and easy alternative), and as a bonus, it also explains some of the nutritional facts about it! Enjoy!
To make about six portions you’ll need (for example):
2/3 c oats
100-120 g yogurt (three small yogurt tubs)
1 sliced apple
1 sliced orange
1 sliced banana
1 sliced mango
coconut, nuts, raisins & honey (optional) for garnish
combine the fruit, oats, and yogurt, cover and refrigerate overnight. Sprinkle coconut, raisins, nuts and honey (or brown sugar) over each individual serving.