Monday 20 February 2012

The perfect "ready-made" breakfast

                                          Oats                            photo by Matt Lavin

My brother and nephew arrived last week from Brazil for a visit. My nephew earned this trip for passing his exams to university and he is making the most of his last month of “freedom”. While he’s staying with us, he asked me for some tips on how to cook easy meals, breakfast especially, to help him  through his college life.

I showed him how to make one of my favourite breakfasts, the Bircher muesli, developed by the Swiss physician Maximillian Bircher-Benner in the late 19th century. Dr Bircher believed in a diet of natural and raw foods. This one was developed to treat his patients suffering from heart disease. He used to soak uncooked rolled oats in water overnight to soften them with grated fruit, nuts and seeds. These days there’s a variety of muesli recipes out there. You can just go wild with your imagination and add to the mix anything you like ( nuts, fruits, seeds – fresh or dried - and spices).

In traditional cultures, grains were always soaked overnight or fermented for several days before consumption. As Sally Fallon says: “All grains contain phytic acid in the outer layer of the bran. Untreated, phytic acid combines with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in unfermented whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and, in the long term, many other adverse effects”. You can read a lot more about grains clicking here.

So, it’s good practice to soak the oats overnight. This is such an easy-to-make breakfast for those who don’t have much time in the morning. You can prepare it the night before. Even if you don’t have time to have your breakfast at home, put it in a small container and take it with you to college or work.

Vitor, my nephew, loved it and he will now hopefully be able to make his own version and guarantee himself a good start of his day on those hurried mornings.

The ingredients
Mix everything inside a bowl
Add the yoghurt and leave it soaking overnight
My Bircher muesli with seasonal fruits and yoghurt
Bircher Muesli
Serves 4-6

Soaking the grains and nuts overnight reduces the indigestible phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. This process improves the digestion and absorption of the nutrients in this muesli loaded with fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.

1 apple, cored and roughly grated (skin on)
Half pear, cored and grated (skin on)
125ml of organic tangerine or orange juice. Sometimes I use pear juice instead.
Juice of ½ lemon
30g pecans, 30g walnuts, 30g almonds roughly chopped or any nuts of your choice
30g unsulphured white mullberries (optional)
15g goji berries (optional)
200g organic natural yoghurt
170g organic rolled oats
A sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

Fresh seasonal fruits – bananas, plums, tangerines, peaches, apples, pears, pomegranates, rhubarb – and/or fresh berries


Put the grated apple and pear in a bowl and add the lemon and tangerine juice. Add the oats, dried fruits and nuts and mix. Gradually mix in the yoghurt. Cover and leave overnight.

Add more yoghurt, juice or milk of your preference in the morning if the mixture is too thick. Serve it with berries or any seasonal fresh fruit (if the berries are not in season frozen ones would work as well).

The main ingredients and their healthy benefits

Apple (Malus domestica): It contains pectin, which helps the body eliminate cholesterol, toxic heavy metals, and residues of radiation. Apple juice is a very good internal body cleanser and beneficial to the liver and gallbladder - helping to soften gallstones. It remedies indigestion and inhibits the growth of bad bacteria in the digestive tract. Basically, "One apple a day..." 

Goji Berry or Wolfberry (Lycium barbarum) is a superfood! Contains antioxidants and vitamin C. It boosts blood circulation, lowers elevated  blood sugar, increases HDL cholesterol levels (the good one) and reduces fatigue.

Mulberries (Morus alba): are high in natural sugars, minerals and fibre. They are high in iron, which makes them a great food for the treatment of anemia. They promote body fluid production, and are good to treat constipation. In Turkey, they eat white mulberries on an empty stomach with a glass of water. In Chinese medicine, mulberries are believed to strengthen the kidneys and to help cleanse the liver.

Oat (Avena sativa): it helps reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), lowers blood pressure, and provides sustained levels of carbohydrates for the production of energy. Oats can cleanse your intestinal tract and your blood. They also help to stabilize insulin levels. They are rich in the B vitamins, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and contain a very good balance of amino acids. They stimulate the release of testosterone, increasing its level in both sexes. Oat milk is a very good alternative for people who are lactose intolerant. 

Pear (Pyrus communis): like apple, it contains pectin, which helps to lower cholesterol levels. Pear juice enhances the liver function. It contains potassium, phosphorus and calcium. It also helps eliminate excess mucus, and moistens the lungs and throat. Used for constipation, loss of voice and gallbladder inflammation and obstruction. 

Tangerine (Citrus reticulata): it can be used as a general tonic for weak digestion and poor appetite. It has good levels of vitamin C and makes a good substitute for commercial oranges, since it has most of the same properties but is sprayed with far less chemicals. 

Natural yoghurt: it boosts immunity and is very helpful in cases of stomach ulcers. It is high in protein, natural fats and calcium. It is a natural source of probiotic activity (live friendly bacteria) that enriches the intestinal flora, maintaining a good digestive system.

Nuts: They are a great source of complete protein and omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturates. They are high in insoluble fibre, which is beneficial for regular bowel movements. Nuts are rich in essential minerals and vitamins content.  

Till next week!


  1. Muito bom seu blog Margot! Um dos blogs mais completos que eu já vi! Está de parabéns! Sobre a receita, Bircher Muesli, é bem prático e fácil de fazer (bom, pelo menos é o que parece). Irei tentar! Parabéns mais uma vez!

  2. Oi Diego! Muito obrigada. Que bom que você gostou do meu blog. Isso me dá ânimo pra continuar.
    O Bircher muesli além de ser muito saudável ele é muito fácil de preparar, pode ter certeza. Depois me diz o que achou.
    Um abraço.

  3. Great! I have found some of authentic information about ready made breakfast. It's exclusively looking one of amazed contented source for me. This one really enhances my amount of knowledge about it. Thanks for sharing.


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