There are many recipes for Bircher muesli, which is a good thing because not only is it tasty and nutritious, it’s very filling too. A 20th century creation by Swiss physician and nutritionist Maximilian Bircher-Benner this breakfast dish was to encourage patients at his Zurich sanatorium to include more raw fruit in their diet. Bircher-Benner was the pioneer of a diet high in raw fruit and vegetables and reduced in red meat and refined carbohydrates. Oats, rich in gentle, soluble fiber, are the staple ingredient of both traditional and Birchers’ muesli, the difference being that Bircher pre-soaked before adding fresh, grated apple and where originally, the soaking procedure took place over-night using sweetened condensed milk, something that doesn’t sit well with modern taste or health advice.


As a guide, about 25g / ¼ cup of oats should be sufficient for a single serving and soaking can be anywhere from 10 minutes to overnight. Oats contain a small amount of phytic acid; a substance that can inhibit minerals being absorbed in the digestive tract but soaking activates phytase, the enzyme that breaks down phytic acid. As always, there is differing opinion about the health benefits of soaking oats but I lean to moderation; a balanced diet where oats constitute a single meal, their benefits enjoyed rather than feeling overwhelmed by concern. Also, I can’t ever imagine being so organized as to prepare breakfast the evening before…

Grains such as spelt, rye or buckwheat can be added to the oats using a guide of about 10% of total quantity.


Liquid can be anything at all – fruit juice, milk, almond milk or even cream though my preference is for UHT skimmed milk, a low-fat option that has a creamy taste. Just a few splashes, not so much to make the oats swim, more can be added later along with the opportunity of a sprinkle of chia seeds, dried fruit and chopped nuts - sultanas, cranberries, hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds work particularly well.

Grate an unpeeled crisp, tart apple or pear (1 per person), forking into the oats along with extra liquid, if necessary, fruit, nuts and seeds. I am partial to a sprinkle of cinnamon to give a suggestion of sweetness though honey, maple syrup and low G.I. agave nectar are options.

A recipe isn’t necessary for Bircher muesli, be guided by your own taste instead …