I’ve said it before, but often I am asked what I eat. I eat what I like. And what I LIKE is crunchy, rustic, chunky, healthy food. That’s why lately I’ve been eating muesli for breakfast. If you aren’t familiar with Muesli, you probably know it’s more sugar-laden, baked cousin GRANOLA. Muesli was created by Swiss physician and nutritional pioneer, Maximilian Bircher-Benner back in the early 1900’s. He believed the sicknesses experienced by his patients could be alleviated with increased exercise and a more nutritious diet. Bircher-Benner was able to heal and prevent disease through a diet rich in raw grains, fruits, and vegetables, and with moderate exercise including walking and daily gardening. The original recipe he came up with consisted of oat flakes, raw apples, condensed milk, nuts and lemon juice.
In 1959, a Swiss company mass-produced muesli and eventually exported it England, The U.S., Austria and other places. In the 1970s, they introduced “Crunchy Muesli,” a muesli toasted with sugars and oils, similar to today’s granolas. The product was introduced in response to U.S. taste preferences. And that, my friends, is why we have a prolific amount of high-fructose-corn syrup everywhere we look. Why is it so hard for Americans to enjoy natural foods for their inherently organic flavor? Why are so many companies using synthetic flavors to MIMIC nature, when they could just use the ACTUAL, whole food ingredient instead? I suppose price has something to do with it. Here’s my question: How hard is it to throw together a breakfast food like muesli, full of WHOLE foods that are good for you? Is it really THAT much harder than buying a box of cereal full of artificial flavors and loaded with sugar? The answer: Not hard at all.
Take a look at the ingredients on a box of Honey Nut Cheerios: (GENERAL MILL HONEYNUT CHEERIOS) Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Oat Bran, Modified Corn Starch, Honey, Brown Sugar Syrup, Salt, Ground Almonds, Calcium Carbonate, Trisodium Phosphate, Wheat Flour, Vitamin E, Zinc, Iron, Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B1, Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D.
This list is surprisingly small for a cereal label. The second ingredient is sugar. The fifth and sixth ingredients are also sweeteners. Yeah, there are oats and almonds, but hey- couldn’t you just eat a bowl of oatmeal with some almonds and fruit and get all that nutrition in a better way? You know-from their WHOLE FOOD SOURCES? I can only imagine what’s in all those OTHER cereals out there…
Here’s what I’m putting in MY muesli mix:
How do THESE ingredients stack up to a mainstream “healthy” cereal? YOU be the judge!
OATS: Because of their high fiber content, they help remove cholesterol from the digestive system that would otherwise end up in the bloodstream. Antioxidant compounds unique to oats help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. These little gems also help stabilize blood sugar, and starting your day with a bowl of oatmeal may boost your immune response in addition to your morning energy levels! Fiber from whole grains have been proven to lower type 2 diabetes risk and protect against cancer. Oats are high in magnesium and phosphorous, as well as an excellent source of manganese, which helps our bodies with bone production, skin integrity and blood sugar regulation. Just a quarter cup of these guys alone has almost 7 grams of protein!
SPELT FLAKES: Spelt is an ancient wheat grain that dates back to 7,000 BC. It has a sweet and nutty flavor, and is high in fiber, iron and protein. Once again, it is fiber-rich, which helps in appetite control, alleviation of constipation and lowering of blood cholesterol levels.
RAW SUNFLOWER SEEDS: Sunflowers are thought to have originated in Mexico and Peru, they are one of the first plants to ever be cultivated in the United States. They are an excellent source of vitamin E and a very good source of copper and vitamin B1. These seeds are also a good source of selenium, a trace mineral that is of fundamental importance to human health; particularly so for cancer protection.
SESAME SEEDS: Sesame seeds may be the oldest condiment known to man. “Open sesame”—the famous phrase from the Arabian Nights—reflects the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open when it reaches maturity. (How cool is that?) They are an excellent source of copper (copper is known for its use in reducing pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis), a very good source of manganese, but they are also a good source of calcium (prevents colon cancer, osteoporosis, migraines and PMS), magnesium (helps respiratory and vascular health), iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc (bone health), molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber.
PEPITAS: This is a Spanish culinary term for the pumpkin seed! The Spanish phrase “pepita de calabaza” means “little seed of squash.” Pumpkin seeds have long been valued as a source of the mineral zinc. Recent studies show that pumpkin seeds, their extracts and oils improve insulin regulation, and also have anti-microbial benefits, including anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. This is a STAPLE FOOD at our house. We throw them on everything!
FLAX MEAL: Omega-3’s!!! That’s what we always hear about Flax seeds. These omegas help the cardiovascular system, protect our blood vessels from inflammatory damage and help regulate blood pressure. But what else makes it so nutritious? This water-soluble, gel-forming fiber can provide special support to the intestinal tract by improving absorption of certain nutrients in the small intestine.
HEMP HEARTS: Hemp hearts are the edible insides of hemp seeds. They are a complete protein, contain the essential fatty acids omega 6 and omega 3 and are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. (Soluble fiber works in the intestines to lower levels of LDL cholesterol, and insoluble fiber has been linked to lower risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes). Hemp hearts have been shown to increase levels of energy and are easily digestible by the human body.
CURRANTS: These are dried, flavour-packed grapes that were originally cultivated in the south of Greece, and the name currant comes from the ancient city of ‘Corinth’. Basically, they are tiny raisins. They are low-fat, cholesterol-free and high in protein. Currants are packed with dietary fiber, copper, manganese and potassium.
ALMONDS: High in monounsaturated fats, almonds have the same type of health-promoting fats that are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. These nuts are known to lower cholesterol and are high in Potassium, an important electrolyte involved in nerve transmission and the decrease after-meal rises in blood sugar. An almond-enriched low-calorie diet (which is high in monounsaturated fats) can help overweight individuals shed pounds more effectively than a low-calorie diet high in complex carbohydrates. A recent study proved people who ate nuts at least twice a week were much less likely to gain weight than those who almost never ate nuts.
CINNAMON: Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known; it was mentioned in the Bible and was used in ancient Egypt as a beverage flavoring and medicine. It is the brown bark of the cinnamon tree, which when dried, rolls into a tubular form known as a quill (or “stick”). This spice has the ability to help stop the growth of bacteria, as well as slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, reducing the rise in blood sugar after eating. Cinnamon may also significantly help people with type 2 diabetes improve their ability to respond to insulin, thus normalizing their blood sugar levels. It is an excellent source of fiber and the trace mineral manganese. It is also known as an anti-inflammatory. Get this: the scent boosts brain activity too!
WALNUTS: The form of vitamin E found in walnuts is somewhat unusual compared to other foods, and provides significant protection from heart problems (especially for men). On a daily average, tree nut (this excludes peanuts, so all those PB&J’s don’t count!) eaters take in 5 grams more fiber, 260 milligrams more potassium, 73 more milligrams of calcium, 95 more milligrams of magnesium, 3.7 milligrams more vitamin E, and 157 milligrams less sodium than those who never eat nuts! If that isn’t reason enough, I don’t what is! Their anti-inflammatory benefits trump many other foods, and walnuts are a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and an excellent source of those hard to find omega-3 fatty acids!
Here’s my recipe:
Amber’s Muesli Mix
2 Cups Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Spelt Flakes
1 Cup Dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 Cup raw sesame seeds
3/4 Cup chopped raw walnuts
1/2 Cup Raw (chopped or sliced) Almonds
1/2 Cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 Cup raw pepitas
1/2 Cup Hemp Hearts
1 Cup Currants
1/4 Cup Flax Meal
1 TBS Cinnamon
Throw all of it in a bowl and mix it up. I store mine in a glass jar in the cupboard. Suggested serving size is 1/3 to 1/2 cup. If you want, you can soak it in water the night before for a more digestible way to consume it. (Some people may have issues with it. I personally do not). It also makes for a different texture. I prefer mine crunchy served with Keifer, yogurt or nut milk mixed in, along with my favorite fresh fruits.
A few notes about this recipe: There are no rules. Don’t have spelt flakes? Skip ’em. Hate currants? Use fresh fruit or other dried fruit that you DO LIKE. Not sweet enough for you? Add some honey or agave. You like your nuts/seeds toasted? Great! (Toast them yourself, that way you eliminate added oils and salt from manufacturers. Also, some seeds loose a bit of their nutritional value when toasted, but often not if toasted less than 20 minutes). Even choosing 3 ingredients to add to your oats will be more nutritious than a bowl of store-bought cereal. I like to purchase my ingredients from the local natural grocery store. Spices, nuts and grains are generally cheaper there because they can be purchased in bulk. Yes, sometimes buying an $8 bag of walnuts is more expensive than a $4 smaller one at the regular chain store, but in the long run you DO save. If you’re under a tight budget, why not invest in just one ingredient a week? After a month, you’ll be well on your way to stocking your pantry with wholesome foods that you can incorporate into your OWN muesli mix, but also into smoothies and salads and other good-for-you recipes!
This website has been a wealth of information for me. It’s an organization, so it’s not sponsored by the government or any other entity. They simply give unbiased nutritional facts for all of the whole foods we should be eating! World’s healthiest Foods