Soaked summer muesli

Photography by Jonathan Gregson

This is a wonderful hand-me-down recipe for a bircher-style creamy muesli – oats soaked in fruit juice, to soften, then mixed with yogurt, fruit and whatever else you fancy. This recipe is from my friend Becca. It’s ideal for warmer mornings when you feel like a fresh and lively start to your day. The recipe for muesli was devised by Dr Bircher-Benner for his Swiss patients in the 1890s. An advocate of healthy eating along with plenty of sleep and exercise, Dr Bircher was ahead of his time, prescribing a diet of raw fruit and vegetables and less white bread and meat for his patients. This version uses a mixture of fruit juice and milk to soften the oats, but it’s a recipe easily adapted to suit your taste, so you can add only fruit juice if you prefer. You can also soak the oats for less time – an hour or so – if you want a speedier version.

Serves 3
Ingredients:

100g porridge oats or a porridge mix of oats, wheat and barley flakes and brown rice flakes (found in some supermarkets)
150ml apple juice 100ml milk
2 tablespoons mixed chopped nuts and/or dried fruit such as sultanas or chopped apricots
2 tablespoons chia seeds (optional)
4 heaped tablespoons creamy Greek, plain or fruit yogurt
To serve: fresh fruit of your choice, e.g. 1 apple, peeled and grated, 1 sliced banana, a handful of summer berries, 1 peach or nectarine, sliced honey (optional)

Directions:
1. Put the oats or porridge mix into a bowl and stir in the apple juice and milk.
2. Leave to soak overnight in the fridge. I
3. n the morning, stir the nuts, dried fruit and chia seeds (if using) into the oats, along with the yogurt.
4. Add the fresh fruits of your choice, drizzle with honey if you like, and serve.

This recipe can be found in Amazing Grains.


DIY muesli

Photography by Jonathan Gregson

I am a total convert to home-made muesli and find it so much less sugary than the expensive shop-bought brands that often contain nothing but rather dusty-tasting grains and too many raisins. Plus, you can make it your own and vary it as you like – mixing your favourite grains and throwing in plenty of fruit and nuts. I like to lightly toast the grains as it gives them a less pappy taste and adds richness to the muesli – but if you prefer, just mix them from raw. Grain ‘flakes’ are cut a little thinner than just plain rolled, making them preferable for this recipe. You can buy a muesli base mix if you prefer – just use 350g of the base mix instead of the grains from the recipe – and simply toast it in the oven before adding the seeds, fruit, nuts, etc. Double the quantities if the whole family enjoy it – it will keep for a month or so in a cool dry place.

Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
200g barley, quinoa, kamut, rye or spelt flakes, or a mixture 150g oat flakes or quick-cook oats
2 tablespoons wheat bran 3 tablespoons flaxseeds, linseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds or chia seeds
125g mixed dried fruits, e.g. chopped apricots or dates, sultanas, raisins, apple or coconut shavings, goji berries
100g mixed nuts, e.g. Brazil nuts, walnuts, cashews, almonds, pecans
Optional extras: chocolate chunks, dried banana pieces

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Mix the grain flakes and bran (if using) together and spread out thinly (6–8mm thick) over a baking tray – you might need two.
2. Bake for 6–8 minutes or until the grains feel lightly toasted (rather than browned) when you turn them over with a spoon.
3. Once cool, transfer to a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients and stir together.
4. Keep in an airtight container.

Variations: To make the following variations, toast the grains as in the above recipe, then mix with the remaining ingredients and keep in an airtight container.
My favourite muesli
100g barley flakes, 100g rye flakes, 150g oat flakes, 2 tablespoons wheat bran, 11⁄2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, 100g roughly chopped Brazil nuts, 100g mix of chopped dried apricots and raisins, a handful each of broken up dried banana chips and coconut shavings and 3 tablespoons chia seeds (optional).
Superfood muesli
200g quinoa flakes, 200g oat flakes, 50g goji berries or dried blueberries, 50g chopped dates or prunes, 4 tablespoons chia seeds, 2 tablespoons flaxseeds/linseeds and 4 tablespoons toasted blanched almonds.
Gluten-free muesli
100g uncontaminated gluten-free oats*, 200g quinoa flakes, 2 tablespoons flaxseeds/linseeds, 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, 100g toasted and roughly chopped, whole un-blanched almonds and 100g dried fruit.

This recipe can be found in Amazing Grains.


Granola

Photography by Jonathan Gregson

‘Granula’ was invented in 1894 as a healthy breakfast by Dr. Connor Lacey at Jackson Sanitarium in Dansville, New York. (Around the same time a certain Dr Bircher-Benner was inventing his own healthy cereal in Switzerland!) What we now call granola has been reinvented a number of times since the original recipe, which was actually nothing like the sweet baked nuggets of grains, fruit and nuts that we now know and love. This recipe is the easiest and tastiest make-it-yourself breakfast granola, with no hidden nasties. I use a bag of four-grain porridge, available in some supermarkets, as the base – it’s a mix of jumbo oats, flaked brown rice, flaked wheat and flaked barley. However, you can use just oats or a mix of the above. Also, feel free to up the nuts or change the fruit as per your tastes. Use the granola as a sprinkling for fruit compotes or eat with yogurt or milk. If you’re keeping the granola for a couple of weeks, it’s best to use oil rather than butter and properly dried fruits rather than the ready-to-eat dried fruits.

Serves 4-6
Ingredients:
50g melted butter, or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for a healthier version
3 tablespoons runny honey, preferably Manuka
3 tablespoons apple or orange juice 200g four-grain porridge mix, or rolled oats or a mix of grains
50g flaked almonds
1 heaped tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1 heaped tablespoon flaxseeds/linseeds
50g dried apple
50g dried cranberries

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/gas mark 3. In a bowl in the microwave or in a pan on the stove, melt the butter or oil with the honey and fruit juice.
2. Add the remaining ingredients, except the dried fruit, and stir together until thoroughly combined.
3. Pour onto a shallow baking tray in a layer approximately 2cm deep and place in the oven.
4. Bake for 20–30 minutes or until golden, turning the granola over a couple of times during the baking to ensure that it is evenly toasted (the outer edges tend to brown faster).
5. Remove from the oven when the granola is golden brown and crisp. Stir in the dried fruit, then cool in the tray before transferring to an airtight container.
6. Keep in a cool, dry place.
7. Serve with fresh fruit, yogurt or milk and a sprinkling of chia seeds, if you like.

Variations: Apricot and pecan – add 100g chopped ready-to-eat dried apricots and 75g pecan nuts in place of the almonds and fruit. Raisin and hazelnut – use 50g raisins and 75g hazelnuts in place of the dried fruit and nuts. Maple and nut – swap the honey for maple syrup and replace the fruit with 75g baked pecans

This recipe can be found in Amazing Grains.