Raw, Vegan Bircher Muesli: Superfood Inspired!

by Gena on May 2, 2012

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Did you know that Swiss physician Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner is thought by some to be the father of the raw foods movement? At his sanitarium in Zurich, Bircher-Benner encouraged his patients to eat less meat and bread and more raw fruits and vegetables. He also advocated strict portion control, as did his contemporary, Arnold Ehret, who is well known today for his administering of water fasting to sick patients. For better and for worse (better for the fruits and veggies and discouragement of meat, worse for the Spartan attitude toward eating) these men’s ideas are still deeply embedded in the language of raw foodism. And it is Bircher-Benner who invented muesli, a now ubiquitous morning cereal made of dry rolled oats, dried fruit, and nuts that remains popular worldwide today.

I first heard of “Bircher Muesli” in one of Ina Garten’s books. From what I could tell, the thing that made it different from the muesli I was used to eating from a cereal box with cold milk was that it was soaked overnight in milk and yogurt. I’m not entirely sure that I have the distinction right, but regardless, I made the recipe as directed, with yogurt and milk, and I thought it was delicious. Though I make overnight oats and oat/chia parfaits all the time nowadays, I have never thought to recreate that wonderful dish in vegan form. Until this week.

This breakfast bowl is an instant keeper. If you’re trying to go raw-er and you want a breakfast option that’s denser than a smoothie or a chia pudding, it’s a perfect option: though rolled oats are not technically raw (they’ve typically been processed under heat), they’re still uncooked, which will help you get used to cool breakfasts. The meal is also packed with raw foodie staples like goji berries, mulberries, and chia seeds, which provide antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids galore. And if you make it with homemade almond milk, you’ll find that you hardly miss the rich, indulgent creaminess of a whole milk and yogurt base in traditional Bircher muesli.

Although this is a very filling breakfast, it’s appropriately cool for the summer months. A typical summer dilemma for me is that I want the density and comfort of whole grains in the morning, but I don’t want hot food. Soaked oats to the rescue! And if they’re imbued with tons of other healthy ingredients, well then, so much the better.

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Raw, Vegan Bircher Muesli (superhigh raw, vegan, gluten free if you use GF certified oats, soy free)

3 small and 2 generous portions

1 *heaping* cup rolled oats (use GF certified rolled oats if you are allergic to gluten)
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 fuji or honeycrisp apple (or apple of choice) grated with a mandolin or box grater
1/4 cup goji berries
1/4 cup dried mulberries
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 3/4 cups homemade almond milk (if you want to use storebought instead, you might try 1 cup almond milk and 1/2 cup coconut milk yogurt for a rich, creamy texture!)

Place all ingredients in a bowl and soak overnight. Dig into breakfast bliss.

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I don’t have much to say about this meal, except that it’s one of the most heavenly and satisfying breakfasts I’ve concocted in a long time. I hope you’ll all agree.

Speaking of breakfast, remember how I gave a mini-scone option for my gluten free, vegan goji and almond scones? I thought I’d show you how cute they look as such:

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I think your breakfast recipe queue just got a little longer.

Night, friends.

xo

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky May 2, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I was just wondering if you were on pinterest, and if we are able to pin your recipes? Thanks! I love your recipes!!

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Sara May 2, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Looks yummy! I will try it soon:)

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shelley May 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm

What kind of rolled oats do you use? New to raw foods. Can you be completely specific about the oats and if it matters? I assume you don’t mean Quaker oats….thanks!

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Averie @ Averie Cooks May 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Good call on the make-ahead ready and waiting for you muesli bowl for the a.m.

And what cute mini scones!

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Alex @ Raw Recovery May 2, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Oh I am on such a granola/breakfast kick right now. You have impeccable timing :)

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Eli Kul May 2, 2012 at 9:27 pm

My mom always soaks the oats overnight, this is a typical European way of preparing oats…Not to mention soaked oats are much more flavorful, and healthier too.

Thanks for the sharing this interesting blend of ingredients Gena, looks and sounds yum!

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Anastasia@healthymamainfo.com May 2, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Beautiful recipe! Adding mulberries to it is a great idea! I love the way they taste, and love the fact that they can enhance immunity. Can’t find it at any local food stores though :(

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Hannah May 2, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Love love love muesli. I almost bought some at this organic discount store yesterday but the expiration date was like, August of last year. I know those things are exaggerated, but still, haha. And making your own = you get to choose what mix-ins you want!

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Jennifer May 2, 2012 at 10:11 pm

This could also be made with quinoa flakes for another gluten free option.

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Cassandra May 3, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I tried quinoa flakes instead of oats as part of my standard overnight oats rotation, and they work, but I found that they don’t absorb as much liquid, and they were a little bitter. You can totally adjust what you mix in (more chia seeds, more dried fruit, etc.) if you want a thicker texture and less bitterness.

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Gena May 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm

I don’t love quinoa flakes soaked — and I have tried to love them!

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Cassandra May 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Well, phew! Glad I’m not the only one! :-)

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Molly May 2, 2012 at 11:28 pm

I can’t wait to make this!

As a side note, I wanted to tell you that my late-night final exam study snack is a raw kale salad. Thanks to you, I’m officially a convert!

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Lou May 2, 2012 at 11:45 pm

It’s funny, as Down Under (New Zealand + Australia) we call what you call ‘granola’ ‘muesli’…. and your ‘overnight oats’ are ‘Bircher muesli.’ Language quirks. I make bircher muesli for my non-vegan partner with yoghurt, so he call Bircher muesli “Bikram Yoghurt” as he says it makes him feel healthy like yoga (he has never done yoga).

Anyway, it’s all delicious – I’m intrigued by dried mulberries, never seen them – great looking breakfast for sure :)

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the delicate place May 3, 2012 at 8:33 am

this post makes me nostalgic for italy! i ate a small bowl of museli everyday with my shot of espresso during a visit about wow..6 yrs ago already!! i haven’t had it since but this seems like motivation enough to put some together! i really am a textural person when it comes to food and i really appreciate something that has some softness but also the chew!

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bitt May 3, 2012 at 11:59 am

looks like a hearty healthy breakfast! yes we are indebted to Bircher for raw foods and part of the health movement for sure.

did you originally have homemade almond yogurt up there last night? or was that a hallucination of mine? I got excited about that. i’d love to make a yogurt myself that doesn’t involve opening a coconut or using cashews.

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Gena May 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Hallucination :)

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Hoshigaki May 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I’m most certainly going to try this! Thanks for being so innovative- this is hippie-chic. Muesli is the lazy girls granola!
I like these kinds of recipes, as with salads, because you can vary certain additions depending on the season and your own taste preference. A version using sprouted buckwheat groats would also be really good!
I’m going to try both and report back!

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Sara May 4, 2012 at 8:57 am

I just made this with a few substitutions this morning- I cannot WAIT to eat it tomorrow for breakfast!!! Looks and sounds fantastic! The perfect warm weather make-ahead breakfast. I’m curious… did you divide this into 2 servings or 3? I like a big breakfast and split my batch in 2.

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Nicole May 4, 2012 at 9:21 am

I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and, after a couple of years of flirting with veganism, have made the transition to alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, meat and dairy free. Never felt better.

One of the things that I cannot let go of is my morning muesli. My mother used to make her own in the 1970″s and we kids thought it was awful but things always come full circle and I’ve been making my own for years now.

Not being able to let go of my morning muesli has caused me a little guilt. I have a green juice every other day and wait until I’m hungry to tuck into my desert-island dish but I still feel like I should be having something other than muesli because most raw vegans seem to exist on juice in the morning.

I’m delighted to read that others love it too and I’m not going to sensor myself unnecessarily from now on. After reading your recent posts on body image and the issues around ED, I think I should stop the self-criticism anyway, if muesli works for me.

I make mine with raw oat groats which I soak for 24 hours and then mix with nuts, cashews almonds, anything I have really, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, goji berries and the odd sultana. I don’t seem to be able to get mulberries in England for a price that I can use every day. I then chop a piece of fruit in and use oat milk rather than any other milk because it’s cheap to make and tastes delicious. My heaven in a bowl!

Thanks for such a great blog…

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Tt in nyc May 7, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I just had to reply to you- lose the guilt!! There is no reason on earth to judge your body’s needs. Being hungry is your body asking for energy the same way when your body needs rest you become tired. Feeding your body nutritious whole foods is something you should be proud of and never deny yourself or compare your body’s needs to the needs of anyone else. Your museli version sounds delightful- guess now i’ll have to make two batches :)

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jackie May 4, 2012 at 11:56 am

This looks great!

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Valerie @ City|Life|Eats May 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm

I grew up with parents who ate the traditional Swiss version often. I always found the version with yogurt off putting but my parents swore by that and their late morning carrot juice for a long time. To this day they are big on raw fruit at breakfast. when I got into raw foods my father pointed out Bircher-benner and how some concepts were similar. I think I’m going to try your coconut milk variation.

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Elyse May 5, 2012 at 11:10 pm

This was fan-freaking-tastic! I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but I ended up inhaling my portion and stealing from my husband. When my daughter (2) asked for a taste I refused her. I’m not sure what it is about this dish but I love it.

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Mizpah @ The Raw Food Solution May 7, 2012 at 1:04 am

Before I went raw, bircher muesli was my favorite breakfast. Your superfood version is nice. You can get truly raw rolled oats and they are pretty good with an overnight soaking.

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Kasandra May 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Hey Gena, Thanks for posting! This is a great idea for a fast raw breakfast! I have been eating every day since :)

Just a question – with soaking I thought you had to always rinse to wash off the enzyme inhibitors? Is it a problem then, to eat the almond milk that the oats have been soaked in? What if I had in chia seeds, quinoa flakes, or even buckwheat groats? I would love to know what the procedure would be. Thanks Gena!

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Angela May 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm

That’s funny, I made a vegan Bircher musulei for my cookbook. Great minds think alike! Yours looks lovely Gena. I also tried it with steel cut oats and I was not a fan…I know some people like it with steel cut, but I personally miss the creaminess of the rolled oats.
By the way, goodluck when the finishing of your semester. I’m rooting for you!

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Sabine May 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm

I have several of Dr Bircher-Benner’s books (only available in German) and thought you might be interested in his original Bichermuesli Recipe:

1 Tbsp of rolled oaks
3 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
200g apples (I use one apple and 1 banana)
1 Tbsp of condensed milk (I leave this out)
1 Tbsp grated raw hazelnuts or almonds

Soak the oats in the water overnight
Put lemon juice in a bowl
Finely grate apples into lemon juice (I use a parmesan grater blade)
Finely chop other fruit if used
Add soaked oats
Sprinkle ground nuts over dish.

As you can see it is actually a fruit dish with very little grains in it.
Dr. Bircher-Benner’s original recipe includes a Tbsp of condensed milk but it an be replaced with a Tbsp of natural yoghurt. I leave it out as I don’t animal products.

With a little practise this meal is ready in 10 minutes.

Try it out and enjoy!

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Katrin May 16, 2012 at 8:51 am

Since almost two years I eat Bircher Muesli every morning from Monday to Friday. The perfect thing is: you can change it in so many ways, add this, remove that and so on, so it will never be boring. I add the apple in the morning to have a “fresher apple taste”.

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Ashley June 13, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Can I use Irish oats for this recipe?

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betty September 10, 2012 at 12:59 am

i LOVE bircher muesli! this looks great !!

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