Try Something New: Muesli

Lots of coconut makes everything tasty.

We’ve reached the season where I’m no longer interested in a hot oatmeal breakfast each morning, but I’m increasingly dissatisfied with the cold cereal choices that are out there. Even the healthiest ones have a lot of additives and stuff that I just don’t need. And so I decided to give my own muesli a try.

It has a terrible name (really, it sounds more like a medical condition than a breakfast), but a well-made homemade muesli is one of those things that I’ve always liked about European breakfast buffets. In fact, I have very fond memories of a breakfast in Switzerland: dark bread with cherry preserves and a homemade yogurt (!!!) with muesli. Simple but delicious.

The best part about making my own is that I can add whatever I want to it: nuts, seeds, fruits and other real foods that Michael Pollan would probably approve of. Now I just need to get some sort of guidebook for what seeds and micronutrients I really need in my diet, particularly as I ramp up the intensity on my training.

Last week, I went out and bought the Good Ingredients for this muesli effort: thick rolled oats and unsweetened flake coconut from Bob’s Red Mill, as well as slivered almonds, sliced almonds, broken cashew pieces, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and an array of dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, cherries, dates, apricots) from Trader Joe’s.

Honestly, there’s no real recipe to this process, but here are some guidelines:

  • Always start with 2 cups of rolled oats. If you start with a consistent amount of oats, you’ll have a sense of how to judge proportions from there. If you just dump it in a bowl, you won’t have any idea how to correct or improve it next time.
  • There is no such thing as too much coconut, at least not in my world.
  • Limit flax seeds to about 1/4 cup. They’re small but have a potent taste.
  • Always add a heavy pinch of salt to the mix. No, it won’t taste salty.
  • Don’t store your dried fruits with the muesli. Sure, it looks pretty, but the moisture from the fruits makes your muesli spoil faster. Mix up a batch of your favorite fruits, keep them separate, and throw them together when it’s time to eat.
  • Even though I normally use skim milk, I find that muesli wants something heartier. Use milk with some fat in it, or mix with yogurt.

Yes, even the Tiny Kitchen Assistant will eat this, although he doesn’t quite understand why we don’t cook this kind of oatmeal. My next trick is creating the nut-free version that he can take to school to mix with yogurt for an easy and healthy lunch.

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