The Swiss physician, Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner, was ahead of his time. It was around 1897 when he proposed that eating a diet rich in raw fruit, vegetables and grains could heal the body or prevent disease. This was radical thinking since, at the end of the 19th century, meat was a dietary mainstay.
Dr. Bircher-Benner was also an advocate of getting lots of sleep, keeping physically active (by farming or shepherding, of course), and he always emphasized the important balance between people and nature.
While you might not be familiar with the good doctor’s philosophies, you’re probably aware of the namesake cereal he developed: Bircher Müsli. In America, we spell his delicious creation muesli, and if you’ve never had it before, you’re in for a real treat.
Here are just a few reasons why I’m a big fan of muesli:
- Every ingredient in the (original) recipe is important for good health;
- muesli takes about three minutes to make;
- all of the ingredients are pantry staples;
- you can adapt the recipe to your taste preferences, the season or what you have on hand;
- muesli can be vegetarian and it’s also made with all raw ingredients;
- it’s rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber and calcium, and
- one serving of muesli can provide two servings of fruit.
Another benefit of muesli is that it’s made with raw—not cooked—oats, and raw oats contain phytic acid which may help protect us from cancer.
In terms of taste, nothing compares to homemade muesli, and what you buy in the store (more like granola) is a far cry from the real thing, which is milk- or juice-based. Now, the doctor’s recipe was made using heavy cream, but I took care of that, adapting the recipe to be leaner without departing from the intended flavor and texture. (Believe it or not, I made 3 gallons of this stuff to get it right.)
For your enjoyment, I’m sharing my adaptation of Dr. Bircher-Benner’s recipe. Click here to see how to make it. I think you’ll find the recipe rich and satisfying. Of course, feel free to experiment, and make the recipe your own. Try adding apricots, ground flax seed or wheat germ; use walnuts or hazelnuts instead of pecans, and top it with sliced banana, strawberries or raspberries.
Tina’s Healthy Muesli
Makes 6, 1-cup servings
5 ounces half & half, fat free
2 cups milk, 1%
1 ¼ cups oats, rolled, old fashioned
½ medium apple, peeled and grated
¼ cup grapes, halved
½ cup raisins
½ cup pecans, chopped and toasted
6 ounces non-fat Greek yogurt
½ cup agave nectar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Mint for garnis
Combine everything but the mint in a large bowl. Cover and store in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours. Ladle into bowls and garnish with mint. Will last 3 days tightly covered in the refrigerator.
NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING:
Protein: 10 grams
Fat: 8 grams (mostly mono- and polyunsaturated “good” fats)
Fiber: 4 grams
Calcium: 176 grams
Cholesterol: 4 milligrams
Sodium: 70 milligrams