Instead of granola, I’ve reciprocated with a gift of muesli. No one gets too razed up when I hand over a bunch of beige flakes with white-dusted pieces of fruit. But who can blame them? It’s an odd little breakfast item that Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner came up with some 110 years ago.
My guess is ol’ Maximilian and I have a lot in common. We both know muesli will have you living a lot longer than a daily diet of morning bacon and eggs. But did the inmates at his Zurich sanatorium understand the true secret to muesli success?
Namely: Muesli must not stand alone.
It’s an add-in, not the solo act. It needs a crunchy counterpart to come alive in your breakfast bowl, so add some flakes. (I like Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes, a name that doubles over my 16-year-old son in mirth.) I also like a fancy afternoon snack done up in a wine glass with berries and yogurt layered on top of each other, all parfait-ed up with a sprinkling of muesli and maple syrup on top. And nothing beats a dusting of muesli on top of that quintessential baked fruit, the lovely quince.
About six months ago I was staring at a pricey box of muesli in my neighbourhood IGA. The brand was Dorset and their pretty packaging stuffed with flakes comes all the way from the UK and will stun you dumb with sticker shock.
I may be a penny pincher but I’m not silly enough to ignore an ingredient list. Luckily I remembered most of it after dashing across the Danforth and landing in Strictly Bulk, ready to mix up my first muesli.
½ cup each kamut, barley, spelt and oat flakes
(Yes, all those grains come in a “flake” version that looks exactly like rolled oats. When buying oats, opt for traditional-style rolled oats, not the quick or instant stuff.)
¼ cup each raw pumpkin seeds, almond slivers and sunflower seeds
(You could roast these… but then you’d lose the raw virtue that Maximilian and I treasure in a muesli. )
1/3 cup each scissor-sliced dates and apricots
(The apricots add a vibrancy to this that could be matched with Iranian green raisins but go ahead and toss in other things like dried cranberries, Thompson raisins or cherries.)