Did you know that the healthy overnight oats recipe fad is based on the Bircher muesli recipe which is more than a century old? The whole overnight oats recipe craze seems to have exploded on the scene along with Covid, but back in the 1900 (that’s no typo) Dr. Max Bircher invented the original overnight oats recipe, and called it muesli. Prescribing it for his patients, Birchermüesli, named after the good doctor, or, simply, müesli, became a staple breakfast food; muesli is a derivation of “mus”, which basically translates to “mush”. Dr. Bircher’s muesli was made by – wait for it – soaking rolled oats, and adding some other yummy stuff to it. The original Bircher muesli recipe involved soaking the rolled oats in water overnight, and then mixing them with milk or cream, some nuts, some lemon juice, and then grating an entire fresh apple into the mixture, stirring and eating. The lemon juice was to keep the apple from browning. By the way, it doesn’t even have to soak overnight, in modern times that whole thing is more about the convenience (stick it in the fridge before you go to bed, it’s ready for you in the morning).
More recently (for some value of ‘recently’), in the mid 1950s the Familia company brought muesli to supermarket shelves everywhere in the U.S.. The familiar red box stood there, often misunderstood and causing confusion, next to the much less healthful sugary cereals like Super Sugar-coated Sugar-sweetened Sugar Blasts. According to the website SwissMade, “Bio Familia AG was founded in 1954 in Sachseln, right in the heart of Switzerland. Before the well known Familia cereal product, in 1959, they launched the first organic Swiss Bircher muesli, which was the start of a long-lasting success story. The aim of the Swiss Bio Familia brand name is to offer healthy nutrition for the whole family.” That said, you’d be hard-pressed to find that original red box on the shelves now, as Familia, now known as “Bio Familia” has branched out, offering all sorts of permutations of their “healthy” cereal, including (shudder) “Swiss Choco Bits” which Bio Familia describes as “crispy cereal bites full of melt-in-your-mouth Swiss milk chocolate”. But even the original recipe for Familia wasn’t all that healthful, as the ingredients for the original version are whole grain rolled oats, apple flakes made of “wheat flour, sugar, and apples (in that order), whole grain wheat flakes, raw sugar, raisins, gianduja (more sugar plus hazelnuts) and roasted almonds.
Our muesli recipe is much, much more healthful. And delicious. And, frankly, easier. We like that. In fact, to be honest, we have a hard time really calling this a recipe, because it’s so simple. But sometimes people need a nudge to realize what they have right under their nose in their pantry. :~)
Easy Bircher Muesli Recipe – the Original Healthy Overnight Oats Recipe
For each serving:
1/3 cup rolled oats (not quick oats, although you can use those if you are in a hurry or just like your oats mushy)
1 Tablespoon chopped raw almonds and/or chopped raw hazelnuts
1 Tablespoon dried fruit (we use raisins and cut up dried apples)
Plant milk to cover
1 Tablespoon maple syrup or less (optional)
Mix everything in a bowl and let stand on your counter for 15 or more minutes. You can also put it covered, in the fridge, overnight, which will result in a somewhat less chewy and more mushy texture. HINT: It’s really easy to create small amounts of “chopped” almonds and hazelnuts by putting the individual nuts in a garlic press and pressing them gently!
You can, of course, multiply the dry ingredients and store it in a canister, in which case you just have to scoop it into a bowl and pour on the plant milk! Yum! In addition to plant milk, yogurt is a traditional topping for muesli. You can use store-bought vegan yogurt, or make our Easy Homemade Almond Yogurt, or our Easy Countertop 2-ingredient Coconut Yogurt, or our Best Homemade Soy Yogurt.
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