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Muesli (// or //; Swiss German: Müesli [ˈmyəsli], Standard German: Müsli [ˈmyːsli]) is a popular breakfast dish based on raw rolled oats and other ingredients including grains, fresh or dried fruits, seeds and nuts, mixed with milk, soy milk, yogurt or fruit juice. Developed around 1900 by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital, muesli is available in a packaged dry form, ready made, or made fresh.
Muesli was introduced around 1900 by the Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital, where a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables was an essential part of therapy. It was inspired by a similar "strange dish" that he and his wife had been served on a hike in the Swiss Alps. Bircher-Benner himself referred to the dish simply as "d'Spys" (Swiss German for "the dish", in German "die Speise"). Muesli in its modern form became popular in Western countries starting in the 1960s as part of increased interest in health food and vegetarian diets. The original Bircher muesli was soaked overnight with water and lemon juice, and then eaten with yoghurt.
Packaged muesli is a loose mixture of mainly rolled oats or cornflakes together with various dried fruit pieces, nuts, and seeds. It commonly contains other rolled cereal grains such as wheat or rye flakes. There are many varieties, which may also contain honey, spices, or chocolate. This dry packaged muesli can store for many months and served quickly after mixing with milk, fil, yogurt, coffee, hot chocolate, fruit juice, or water. If desired, pieces of fresh fruit may be added. Alternatively, the mix may be soaked overnight in milk and then served with fresh fruit or compote to taste.
Muesli can also be freshly prepared using either dry rolled oats or whole grain oats that have been soaked in water or fruit juice. Other common ingredients are additional grated or chopped fresh fruit (e.g., bananas, apples, berries, grapes, mango), dried fruit, milk products (e.g., fresh milk, yogurt, cream, condensed milk, fromage frais, quark, cottage cheese, or nondairy milk substitutes), lemon juice, ground nuts, seeds, spices (especially cinnamon), honey and muesli mix.
Original Bircher-Benner muesli recipe
The original Bircher-Benner recipe is proportionately the opposite of most muesli available in today's supermarket varieties, calling for far more fruit than grains. One serving based on the original recipe consists approximately of:
- 1 tablespoon rolled oats, soaked in 2–3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cream
- 200 grams apple (about one large, preferably a sour variety), finely grated and mixed with the above directly before serving
- optionally topped with 1 tablespoon ground hazelnuts or almonds
The original recipe used sweetened condensed milk instead of cream, a compromise due to hygiene concerns regarding fresh milk products in 1900 (bovine tuberculosis etc.), before pasteurisation and refrigeration became commonly available. The original recipe also advised to soak the oats in water overnight as raw oats need a lengthy soaking to soften them before eating. This long soaking time is unnecessary with modern rolled "quick oats", which the manufacturers already soften through a steam treatment. While phytic acid is an antinutrient and strong chelator of important minerals, it is removed during the oat groat's dehusking step (and mixture with lemon juice).
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- Media related to Muesli at Wikimedia Commons