Plant-Based in Real Life

Muesli: 7 Things that Will Make It Awesome

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Time for a breakfast recipe, so let’s make my family’s whole food, plant-based (WFPB) muesli topped with fresh fruit and plant-based milk. 

muesli

Is it “muesli” or “müesli”?

To begin with, what is muesli exactly, and where does it come from originally? Plus, doesn’t the word “muesli” have some funny dots over one of the vowels?

To this end, I did some research for you and this is what I found.  Muesli was invented around 1900 in Switzerland, where is it spelled “müesli.”  It is a dish based on rolled oats, nuts, dried or fresh fruit and moistened with some kind of milk, yogurt or juice.

It’s easy to customize

The great thing about muesli is that it’s easy to make and there are lot of possibilities for customizing it to your tastes. 

But first, let’s go back a little. In order to do this, we must take a sad trip into S.A.D., the Standard American Diet, and this time I am talking about cereal. You probably have the sneaking suspicion that the cereal you usually buy at the store is not the healthiest. You know there are some cereals without any sugar that come in boring brown boxes that maybe would be a better choice, but ug, they look cruel and unusual. 

Oats are healthy, right?

But what about old-fashioned oats? You have heard that oats are good for heart health, right? That’s true!

There’s a common misconception though that oats need to be baked or cooked somehow, but raw oats are tasty and satisfying and just EASY. 

No need for added oil or sugar

Another misconception is that oats need to be coated in sugar and/or oil; however, there’s just no need for that.  You’re going to find so much flavor in the nuts, dried fruit, spices and fresh fruit that you won’t miss the loads of honey or oil, for example, that you’d get with a typical store-bought granola, another oat-based cereal.     

There’s lots of room for imagination and improvisation so just have fun with it. Additionally, if you have a favorite muesli topping that I haven’t listed here, tell me about it in the comments section below. 

Because it’s easy and healthy, my family and I eat this muesli all the time.  We make the portions on the weekend in individual Rubbermaid Square 3-Cup Food Storage Containers with Lids so they’re ready to grab on weekday mornings. All the ingredients for one serving of this muesli plus the fresh fruit fit easily into one of these containers.   

Ingredients for whole foods muesli

1. Old-fashioned rolled oats

Oats are the base of the muesli. We use ½ cup per portion.  This may not sound like a lot but I think you’ll find that when you put all of these wholesome ingredients together, you’ll have a VERY filling breakfast. 

2. Nuts

I go for raw walnuts, pecans or sliced almonds.  If you use walnuts or pecans, you can chop them with a knife or break them up a little in your hands if desired.  Sometimes we just toss in the walnut or pecan halves as they are just to keep things simple.  Nuts are amazing super foods but they’re also high in calories, so limit yourself to one or two tablespoons, just enough to give your muesli a nice crunch. 

3. Chopped dates/raisins/other dried fruit

You’re going to get great sweetness with your dried fruit.  We prefer chopped dates most of the time.  These sticky treats are a great source of antioxidants so if you haven’t tried dates lately, it may be time to get familiar! Dates in general can be a little pricey but we’ve found the large 2.5-pound (40 oz) bags of Mariani Pitted Dates to be relatively economical and tasty.  Try and find them at a warehouse club if you’ve got one nearby. We chop up two dates per portion.  They’re extra sticky but they’re worth it. 

Raisins are an easy, economical choice if you’re not into dates.  Actually, though, any dried fruit will do—apricots, prunes, pears, peaches, apple rings, etc.  Chop some up and throw them in.  Just make sure the dried fruit you choose has no added sugar.  (Read the ingredient list on the side of the package.) Additionally, try to limit yourself to no more than a couple tablespoons of chopped dried fruit per portion of muesli because, while healthy, dried fruit is calorie-dense.

4. Ground flax seed

Toss in one to two tablespoons.  Flax seed is another superfood that’s so easy to fit into your breakfast.  I find ground flax seed easier to use, but you can also buy whole flax seeds and grind them in a coffee grinder or blender, but it’s kind of a pain.  Store your flax seed in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.  If you don’t have flax seed and are feeling adventurous, throw in a tablespoon of chia seeds, which have a similar nutrient profile. 

5. Spices

Next, add some spices, which are jam-packed with antioxidants.  You may be doubtful about the spices, thinking it’s maybe too early in the morning for that.  But imagine the spices you would taste in an apple crisp or pumpkin pie.  That’s what you’re going for.  Shake in a tiny bit of each of your favorites to taste.  And, who knows? You may find a new favorite. 

We use a shake of each of these in our muesli: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, cloves (they’re strong, watch out!), and ginger.  I imagine all of the food synergies (think cancer prevention) that these spices are having with the rest of the ingredients as I’m savoring my breakfast. 

6. Fresh fruit

This is where you’ll get your wonderful variety that will keep you coming back to muesli each day.  Don’t be shy about tossing on a whole chopped banana, apple, peach, nectarine or pear.  Make your combinations imaginative.  Think of it as a giant fruit salad.  Try kiwi, fresh berries or pineapple.  Even grapes are good!

If you’re dying to have berries but don’t have any fresh ones on hand, grab that bag of frozen berries you have in your freezer and defrost some in a microwave-safe dish for a few minutes in the microwave. Then toss them on. 

My husband is from Mexico so we’ll also have papaya, mango and guava sometimes.  It’s fun to experiment. 

7. Plant-based milk

This is optional but it gives the muesli more of a cereal-like appearance and texture.  There are lots of options with new ones appearing on the market all the time: soy, almond, cashew, oat, rice, etc. 

Any kind of plant-based milk will work, but make sure it is unsweetened; this is important and an easy detail to miss.  If you’re unsure about the sugar content, turn the carton of milk so you can see the ingredient list.  If it says something like “cane syrup” or “brown rice syrup” you’ve got the wrong product.  Look for plant-based milks with really simple ingredient lists—containing basically only the grain/bean, water and calcium. 

Warm up your oats if you’d like

You can put your muesli in the microwave for about thirty seconds to warm it up if you like a hot breakfast.  Then toss on the fresh fruit and enjoy. 

Muesli go-power for the whole week

This breakfast is going to give you more go-power and antioxidants than your sugar bomb of a yogurt cup ever could. No cholesterol or unhealthy fats to clog your arteries or slow down your brain. That white flour bagel or toaster waffle with the Play-Doh texture you used to eat doesn’t hold a candle to what you’ll have going on with this muesli. 

No more driving through the fast food joint on the way to work because you are PREPARED.  Oh, but if you are late to work, just pop the lid on your muesli container and take with you.  Your coworkers will definitely be impressed by your mountains of fruit and oats. 

And if they ask for the recipe, you’ll know where to send them.  😉

More plant-based resources

Would you like to learn more about the life-saving whole food, plant-based diet?

Please visit my Resources page for links to great books, cookbooks and films.

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Hi! I’m Katherine from Plant-Based in Real Life. I blog about the whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet for the prevention and reversal of chronic disease. I love writing about how eating plant-based foods can help you live a long and healthy life. I first learned of the “plant slant”, eating mostly plants for optimal health, from The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner, and my family decided to go entirely plant-based after watching the Forks Over Knives documentary. Originally from the American West, I lived in Mexico for sixteen years, first as a student, then as a wife and mom. I hold an undergraduate degree in International Trade from the Universidad de Guanajuato in central Mexico and a Master in Management from Southern Oregon University. In 2017 I completed the Center for Nutrition Studies’ Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition.

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