Bircher Muesli Recipe

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
With Bircher Muesli recipe your next breakfast could look something like this one.

What nutritious raw food cereal can be eaten as a tasty
morning breakfast, an energizing on–trail snack,
or–with the addition of fruit and yogurt–a
complete supper or dessert?

Why, Bircher Muesli , of course! And I’m going to show you a Bircher Muesli recipe so
you know just how to fix the tastebud-pleasing cereal
… but first–if you’re unfamiliar with the popular
“Swiss Breakfast”–you may be wondering just how to
pronounce it! So here’s an instant enunciation lesson:
Simply say BIR-ker-MEW-slee. Try again: BIR-ker-MEW-slee.
That’s right. (You’re now ready to sit down in a fancy
restaurant and say, “I’ll have Bircher Muesli,
please.”)

You might also wonder how Bircher Muesli happened to come by
its unusual name. Well, there’s a simple answer to that
question, too. Muesli is the Swiss word for “mush”
(which is, perhaps, a poor choice of words … since mush
is a term most often used to describe food that’s been
cooked to death!), while Bircher comes from the name of
the doctor who–recognizing the curative powers of raw
food–created the fruit/nut/grain mixture … a
fellow named Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner.

The physician was head of the Life-Force Sanitorium (on the
slopes of the Zurichberg outside Zurich, Switzerland) in
the late nineteenth century, and is known for his
ground-breaking work with raw food nutritional therapy.
Since the good doctor’s death, both his son (Dr. Ralph
Bircher) and his daughter (Ruth Bircher-Benner, author of
Eating Your Way to Health , Penguin, 1973) have
continued to spread knowledge about healthful eating in
general, and the benefits of raw foods in particular.

Bircher-Benner repeatedly observed–in the course of
his practice–that a diet of wholesome, uncooked foods
improved the health of many of his patients … even some
who were on the verge of death. The Swiss physician
attributed the restorative effects to the fact that raw
plant foods are direct products of the sun.

Ralph Bircher has since claimed that the success of his
father’s diet was due to the “great variety of enzymes”
contained in the uncooked foods. (Most of Bircher-Benner’s
medical contemporaries, by the way, flat out rejected the
entire concept of nutritional therapy.)

But whatever healthful effects the Life-Force doctor’s diet
plan may have, you can be darn sure of at least one benefit
to be derived from his cereal discovery: Bircher Muesli
tastes great! In fact, whether your usual breakfast is
home-roasted granola or comes from a box in the
supermarket, I guarantee that after one dish of the Swiss
treat you’ll be tempted to switch for good!

Don’t take my word, though … mix up your own batch of
basic Bircher Muesli, and find out for yourself. Simply
combine 1 cup of chopped filberts … 1 cup of chopped
almonds … 3/4 cup of sweetened wheat germ … 3 cups of
quick-cooking rolled oats … 1 cup of dried currants (or
raisins) … 2/3 cup of finely chopped dried apricots … and 3/4 cup or less of brown sugar (use date sugar to
taste if you prefer a less-processed sweetener). Mix the
ingredients thoroughly and keep them in a tightly lidded
container.

This “basic batch” can be stored for up to a month, is made
entirely from easily obtained ingredients, and
makes–without a doubt–the ultimate campsite
breakfast food, road traveler’s snack, or backpacker’s
midday pick-me-up.

After your Bircher Muesli appetite has been whetted by the
simple mix, however, you might want to fix Apple Muesli,
one of the Swiss Breakfast’s many variations. To prepare
Ruth Bircher-Benner’s recipe for one serving of the fresh
fruit treat, soak 1 tablespoon of rolled oats in 3
tablespoons of water for 12 hours. (Quick-cooking
oats–soaked for only one-half hour–can be
substituted here … but the pre-processed flakes will be
less nutritious than old-fashioned rolled
oats.)

Then, in a separate bowl, combine one tablespoon of lemon
juice with one tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk (or
with three tablespoons of yogurt sweetened with one
tablespoon of honey). Stir the ingredients together until
the mixture has a smooth and creamy texture, and add your
pre-soaked oats. Next remove the core–and any
blemishes–from a large apple, and grate the unpeeled fruit
into your bowl (stir the apple shards often as you do this,
to prevent any discoloring). Finally, sprinkle one
tablespoon of grated almonds or hazelnuts on top . .. and
dig in!

You can, of course, mix Apple Muesli in
larger-than-one-serving batches, but–because it uses
fresh ingredients–this form of Swiss Breakfast will
not store well.

Once you’ve mastered the art of fixing the basic mix and
the apple version, you’ll be ready to invent your own
variations. You might try substituting wheat, rice, barley,
rye, soya, or millet flakes for the suggested oats, for
example. Or, consider replacing the dried currants and
apricots of the original recipe with dehydrated dates,
prunes, peaches, or crumbled mincemeat … or making the
fresh fruit muesli with ripe segments of strawberries,
raspberries, cherries, peaches, apricots, or plums instead
of apples.

Who knows? Perhaps you’ll want to beat the Swiss at their
own game by preparing your own inexpensive versions
of Familia or Swiss Gold . (These two commercial
brands of Bircher Muesli consist of combinations of oat,
apple, wheat, rye, and millet flakes … along with dried
raisins, wheat germ, and crushed almonds and
hazelnuts.)

You can also liven up your Bircher Muesli treats by serving
the food in different ways. Instead of using the standard
accompaniment of cold or hot milk (or hot water), you may
enjoy eating Swiss Breakfast with fruit juice … yogurt
… fresh fruit … or whipped cream. Add bits of candied
lemon peel, or a dab of lemon juice. In fact, with just a
little ingredient imagination, you can serve Bircher Muesli
as anything from a complete–and nourishing–main
course to a tasty “Swiss Sundae”!

Dr. Bircher-Benner claimed that, for a person to maintain
good health, at least 50% of his or her diet should consist
of fresh raw food. And–after you discover
Bircher Muesli–you may be unable to resist following
“doctor’s orders!”