Summer is here and with it comes new breakfast routines, a whole wealth of fresh berries and stone fruits, and a desire — perhaps — to eat a bit lighter. For myself, I crave really different breakfast foods in the warmer months, not necessarily for health or diet reasons, but mainly because hot oatmeal or porridge just doesn't sound appealing.
It's these mornings when I'm particularly thankful for muesli, the traditional Swiss cereal that has been making the rounds in our house lately. Have you fallen in love with muesli yet? If not, let me try to convince you.
What Is Muesli? (And How Is It Different From Granola?)
So first, let's have an honest moment about muesli. Most traditional (or bircher-style) muesli is a raw mixture of oats, nuts and seeds, and dried fruits of some kind — often raisins or dates. Some companies are starting to sell muesli that is toasted, and this appeals to more folks who are used to a baked morning cereal like granola.
But I think the appealing thing about an untoasted muesli is that is doesn't have any sugar or oil. If prepared right, it can be the most satisfying, energizing breakfast I can think of.
That being said, not everyone agrees at first. When I was teaching classes to promote my cookbook Whole Grain Mornings, I'd introduce a few muesli recipes and 90% of the time students would look at me like I was crazy, often asking, "Are we going to eat those raw oats just like that?!" Suffice it to say, the unbaked nature of traditional muesli can be a tough sell at first, and more so in the United States; it's just not as common as granola.
But after I first encountered muesli in France years ago and while traveling in the Caribbean last winter, I ate it every morning. When I returned to Seattle, I decided that we needed to make a muesli for my company Marge, and we've just recently come out with a pretty awesome Triple-Grain Muesli that I'm really proud of and excited about.
OK, So How Do You Eat Muesli?
So if you, like my students I describe above, are wondering how the heck you eat muesli at home, I've got you covered.
Cold, Like Granola
You can certainly eat it much like you would granola, sprinkling it over your yogurt or enjoying it with milk or your choice of alternative milks (almond, soy, etc.).
Warm, Like Oatmeal
You can also prepare it warm much as you would oatmeal — but it'll be a super deluxe, special oatmeal with nuts, seeds and fruits already incorporated. I love our muesli warm in the winter.
Overnight, Like Traditional Muesli
In addition to warm muesli, cold or soaked muesli is another popular, nutritious way to enjoy the morning cereal. My favorite way is to prepare it cold, soaked overnight in a blend of yogurt, apple juice and topped with fresh fruits and nuts.
You'll see similar recipes floating around the internet, often called "Overnight Oats." Many people mix in a grated apple right before eating their "soaked" muesli, and while this is certainly delicious, I usually opt for fresh berries instead. Regardless, it's a special treat to wake up to in the morning.
I go the soaking route because I like the flavor and texture and find it super refreshing on hot days. Some people do believe the soaking to contribute to nutritional benefits, and tout muesli to be much healthier, too. So, if you go for that side of things: win, win!
Make Some Muesli!
Are you on board yet? There are some great store-bought mueslis out there, but you can also mix up a batch of your own with minimal effort. Here are a few recipes to get you started:
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(Image credits: Megan Gordon)