Muesli is the perfect summer breakfast, because it has the same nutritional value as eating a bowl of oatmeal, but it's cold and refreshing, unlike a steaming bowl of steel-cut (or, God forbid, instant) oatmeal. I was never a huge fan of oatmeal, mostly I think because I really preferred a nice cold bowl of cereal with lots of milk.
I first had a bowl of muesli when I visited DC for our friends' wedding last September. They serve it at this chain called The Corner Bakery, and refer to it as "Chilled Swiss Oatmeal." I think I ate it every day that we were here, and I've been hooked ever since.
This recipe makes four servings and will last a few days in the fridge. There are a few really good variations on this recipe that I'll include, but I recommend giving the Granny Smith Apple & Banana version a shot.
Muesli with Granny Smith Apple & Banana
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats*
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp dried cherries or cranberries (optional)
1.5 cups milk (we drink almond milk, but skim or soy would work as well)
1/2 cup plain greek nonfat yogurt (my personal favorite type of yogurt, but feel free to experiment)
1/2 cup orange juice**
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Granny Smith Apple, cored and chopped into approximately 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces
2 total bananas (I put 1/2 a banana on top of each serving, so you will need 2 bananas for the 4 servings)
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (pecans and almonds are yummy too)
Extra cinnamon for serving (optional)
*Make sure to use old-fashioned, rather than quick-cooking, oats. Any brand is fine, including Quaker Oats, but I've tried about 4 brands so far and my favorite is the Whole Foods generic brand. They're organic and they have this really nice toasted, somewhat nutty, taste to them. They're only $3 per pound, and you'll get about 3 batches of muesli (12 servings) out of one container. (My gluten-free friend can get some gluten-free oats and enjoy this recipe too!)
**Orange juice is the only sweetener in this recipe, and it also adds a lot of the flavor, so the OJ that you pick is actually really important. Now, I'll admit that I often just buy a half gallon of regular no pulp OJ that C likes to drink and use it for the muesli to keep things easy. But if you really want to kick this recipe up a notch, I highly recommend using freshly squeezed OJ in the muesli. You won't be disappointed. You can buy the little containers of freshly squeezed OJ at the store, or you can do it yourself. Either way, it's worth the investment in the taste if you can swing it.
The first step is to measure out the oats into the bowl, and sprinkle the cinnamon and dried fruit on top.
Then, measure out the wet ingredients. I think the easiest way is to just put everything in a big measuring cup, and you'll end up with 2.5 cups of total liquid (including the yogurt). I chop up the apple and add it directly to the wet ingredient mixture.
You don't have to worry about the apple turning brown in this recipe, because the acidity in the yogurt and OJ keep it from turning. Just make sure to add the apple to the liquid as soon as you chop it, rather than letting it sit on the cutting board, and mix it around so that all the apple pieces get coated with the mixture.
Then, you just pour the liquid and apple mixture over your dry ingredients in the bowl, mix it up with a spoon, and pat the top down with your spoon so that it's a flat surface. Cover with the top of the dish, or a piece of plastic wrap, and toss it into the fridge and forget about it until the morning.
In the morning, you'll have a bowl of muesli that looks like this:
Spoon out as many servings as you need, and top each serving with half a banana, some extra cinnamon if you like, and some chopped walnuts. Enjoy this cool, refreshing breakfast that takes about as long to prepare in the morning as making a bowl of cereal, and see how long it takes you to get hungry again. Perfect way to start a busy day. Try making some tonight and your Monday morning might be a bit more manageable.
Variations on a theme:
Bartlett pears are a really good substitute for the Granny Smith Apple. I actually recommend trying a pear rather than a different kind of apple. Sweeter apples just don't lend the same tart flavor as the Granny Smith and they don't seem to hold up as well in the muesli.
Frozen berries (I love the combo of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries they sell at Trader Joe's) are a great substitute for the banana. Sometimes I have issues with my bananas not being ripe enough for my liking, or finishing the last one the day before, and a good way to solve that issue is to throw a handful of frozen berries in with the muesli when you make it the night before. Mix the frozen fruit in with the other ingredients, and they will be perfectly thawed the next morning.
*A note on peeling (or the fact that I don't really do it):
I generally buy organic fruits and vegetables, especially if I know that I'm not going to peel them (like the apple and the sweet potato I used in the Sweet Potato Fries last night). This way, I can just rinse the fruit for the muesli, chop it up, and not have to worry about peeling it.
The skins of certain fruits and vegetables, like apples and potatoes, are really good to eat to help moderate your blood sugar. You're free to peel them off if you wish, but I recommend spending the extra 20 cents on an organic apple and saving yourself the trouble.
Serving Size 323 g