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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Fresh apple muesli

One of my worst bad habits is not eating breakfast. I know I should and I have sincere plans to do it, but every morning I can barely make it out of the house with both shoes on. Sitting down to a good breakfast almost nevery happens; I'll always go for the extra 10 minutes in bed!
When I do grab a few minutes to eat breakfast I'm a bit stuck for ideas. I don't like cereal or sweet foods in the morning- jams, honey, yoghurts....nope, I can't cope with that sugar injection first thing in the day. A muesli bar in the car on the way to work? Aieeee- my teeth hurt at the thought. And it's not enough to fill me up. I usually go for some grainy toast with Vegemite, but even that leaves me unsatisfied. Actually taking the time to eat something seems to actually makes me hungrier, and then I'm scrounging around for something not long after getting to work. Strangely, not eating breakfast doesn't leave me as hungry, but I know I really ought to. No, the situation is unsatisfactory, dammit!
One of the alternatives suggested to me by many books and doctors is a cooked breakfast. Eggs, and tomatoes and spinach and mushrooms and stuff. Hello?? Like, SURE that's going to happen! I'm not standing over a frying pan straight out of bed, when I could be using that time in bed/in the shower/doing my hair/getting to work early! And then coming home to the dirty pans? Tasty idea, but realistically, not going to happen.

Fresh muesli is something I had been unfamiliar with until recently. To me, muesli was just another dry boxed cereal and I didn't like them. It looked like horse feed. But one day in a cafe a friend ordered some fresh museli and it arrived looking all moist and fruity and yoghurty and damn attractive. I kept sneaking bits from his plate. It was explained to me that it was Swiss bircher muesli; from then I was interested. This was something I could eat, but I couldn't go out for breakfast every morning, could I? I never considered making my own. I'd dabbled in making my own granola last year. It was tasty, but really took organisation and time to make, and really isn't as healthy because it uses sugars, syrups and oil.

But a few months ago, at a 2nd hand book stall I found Jill Dupleix's 'New Food'. Her first book (?) published in 1993, it was quite forward thinking and its recipes hold up really well today. Design-wise it's amusing; it's at the real cross-roads between the minimalist design style of the 90s and the overblown, blowsy, gilt-rimmed crockery and overcrowded country-house table photographs of the 80s. I laugh every time I see a photo of some khaki-coloured grapes piled onto a tizzy silver platter. Eugh.
In the breakfast section, Jill includes the fresh muesli recipe of a Swiss friend. It looked dead easy to make and I gave it a go. It was so good that now I make it every other week. It does require a tiny amount of organisation, because you have to soak the oats overnight, but I can just about cope with that. And would you believe it's the only thing I've ever found that actually fills me up in the morning and leaves me feeling full until lunchtime.? Yay! All those slow-release, low GI oats that expand in my stomach I guess. It's not too sweet, so it doesn't offend my tastebuds. I use Jalna fat-free yoghurt, so it's even healthier, and I add a few spoons of cinnamon (hence the pretty unappealing brown colour of the mush in the photo) to go with the apple. The honey instead of refined sugar makes it better for you too.
It's tasty, it's healthy and it's filling. Woo-hoo!

Read on for the recipe:

Fresh apple muesli
from Jill Dupleix 'New Food'

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup water
1/2 cup natural yoghurt
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon wheatgerm
2 tablespoons chopped nuts
1 banana, mashed
1 greem apple, coarsely grated (with skin)
Any fruits or berries you like
*Cinnamon to taste (optional)

-Soak rolled oats overnight in water
-Add yoghurt, honey, wheatgerm, nuts, banana, apple and fruits
-Top with more grated apple and serve
Serves 4

NB - Even though you have to be a millionaire to buy bananas these days, don't be tempted to skip this ingredient. I tried it and it really wasn't very good. So, dig deep and buy that one $2 banana.

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  • I so love Swiss muesli! The kids started calling it slump at Christmas, so when I did a carrot version in the spring (with pineapple, it was good, too!) I called it Carrot Slump. But I like this banana version a lot: PRINT!

    By Blogger Alanna, at 6/27/2006 12:12:00 pm  

  • Hi Niki - this sounds so good! I eat breakfast every morning, and not because I'm virtuous in any way, just hungry! I think I had a taste of something like this last summer at the farmer's market - they have various restaurant chefs giving cooking demonstrations - I think this was a Swiss bakery in Virginia... anyway it was delicious, but I didn't get the recipe. I can't wait to try yours!

    By Blogger Cathy, at 6/27/2006 12:46:00 pm  

  • hi niki... i have this book too... bought it back when it was released because i was a big fan of jill dupleix. she made my little foodie heart so happy. the recipes are great. i especially love the chocolate and beetroot cake .

    will have a go with this muesli recipe as i'm always running late for breakfast, although these days i've opted to catch a later bus so i can have breakfast at home.. hate having to pay $3 for toast when i've got scrummy bread at home.

    By Anonymous deborah, at 6/27/2006 12:58:00 pm  

  • AK - Muesli with carrot?? Pineapple?! That sounds really interesting! Have you posted about it? I'd like to see it.

    Cathy- Oh, sometimes I'm very hungry in the morning but I still don't have enough time for breakfast. I'd prefer not to be an extra 10 minutes late for work. Also, we grew up seeing my mum not being able to stomach food in the morning, and I think we've absorbed that. We're not a breakfast-eating household, much to our bad luck. When I was working I acutally used to take this muesli with me to eat at my desk when I arrived!!

    Deborah - I resent having to pay good money for often boring food at work when I know I can make something better, and exactly to my own tastes and preferences at home. I usually bring my own lunch to work for that reason. It's hard to justify spending money when you've got good stuff at home!

    By Blogger Niki, at 6/27/2006 01:17:00 pm  

  • hi niki,
    i'm safina from kuala lumpur, malaysia. been an avid silent reader to your blog all these while. love all your recipes. the apple fresh muesli sounds healthy. might give it a try someday. in my country i can get bananas practically everywhere and its cheap too :)

    By Anonymous safina, at 6/27/2006 06:15:00 pm  

  • Niki, I think that you meant to write 'green' apple. And I hope that you used a "Granny Smith" green apple. NB I'm just one of her many descandants who grew up near where her orchanrd was in NW Sydney (Eastwood/Ryde) & now I'm living in Estonia.

    By Blogger Pene, at 6/28/2006 02:40:00 am  

  • Hi Niki, this sounds tasty. I'll have to try it out!

    I haven't bought bananas since March. I never even used buy them if they were over $2 a kilo, so $2 for one makes me feel very sad! Hopefully the farmers up north will see better days soon.

    By Blogger Kelly, at 6/28/2006 09:12:00 am  

  • As a muesli girl from way back, I've got to say I have no idea how anyone can munch their way through unsoaked/uncooked oats. It's like eating chaff.

    My short cut is to mix up some oats and any seeds, nuts, seeds, dried fruit that I like and keep in a jar. Then all i have to do is add the milk (why dilute the flavour with water?) before bed. If I forget, even soaking a bowlful before jumping in the shower, softens it enough by the time I eat it.

    By Blogger Another Outspoken Female, at 6/28/2006 09:52:00 am  

  • I have bought bircher muesli many times at the supermarket (which is too sweet) and at cafes. I never had a recipe to make it myself though- this one looks great. Thanks.

    By Anonymous emily, at 6/28/2006 11:46:00 am  

  • Sorry, I forgot to ask- do you use any particular nuts? I thought that almonds would be nice.

    By Anonymous emily, at 6/28/2006 12:00:00 pm  

  • $2 for a banana? That's crazy! Try going to the store when they're restocking the produce section and ask for some of the older bananas. They usually toss them before they're all that dark, with just a few spots (not banana bread material.) I got 24 bananas for $1!

    This looks great, I love mushy oaty breakfasts.

    By Blogger Natalia, at 6/28/2006 12:48:00 pm  

  • OK - a comment about the $2 banana, because it's been mentioned by a few people. For those not in Australia, here's the situation: a few months ago we had terrible storms/hurricanes (cyclones in Australian terminology) in Northern Queensland where the banana crops are grown. Something like 90% of Australia's banana crop was wiped out in a day or so. Hence the very expensive prices of bananas at the moment. We need to buy from the small amount of other Australian places which still have them, or import them from overseas until the farmers in Qld can establish their crops again. As Kelly (who is from Qld) wrote, we hope the farmers see better days soon.

    By Blogger Niki, at 6/28/2006 01:57:00 pm  

  • Safina - Yes, it is healthy, and I imagine lovely yellow ripe tropical bananas would really give this a great flavour. Thanks for commenting!

    Pene - Yes, green apple and yes I did use Granny Smiths the first time I made it; they are truly my favourite apple. I dislike most sickly sweet apples and love the sour tang of a Granny Smith. I haven't seen them around much at the moment, though. Why are you now living in Estonia? Sounds very exotic!

    Kelly - I think bananas have been off the menu for many since March. I remember only the day before the storms I ripped out a great looking banana cake recipe from a magazine (used coconut milk and shredded coconut in it) but I think it'll be a long time before anyone is making banana cakes...:-(

    AOF - That's a really great idea; thank you for passing that on. Sometimes my yoghurty muesli can be in the fridge for a long time and it gets a bit unappetising, so I like this idea very much.

    Emily - This one is not too sweet. In fact, I usually need to add a bit more honey than recommended otherwise it can be a little...savoury! (especially if using sour apples) Funny - I had a sentence about which nuts I used, but I took it out! I have been using walnuts mainly because they have a nice, filling feeling to them. I can also really recommend pecans. I haven't tried almonds yet, but I'm looking at some hazelnuts for next time.

    FOK - Good point - and buying boxes of cheap fruit and meat from the Victoria Market is known in Melbourne as the best way to get really cheap food - maybe a little overripe or needing to be used quickly, but great value. But see above for banana comment!

    By Blogger Niki, at 6/28/2006 02:05:00 pm  

  • Bananas are sad ATM. Even the guys who come up from NSW and sell them at the local fruit and vege market on Sundays are charging stupid money for them. Don't quite understand why their prices have quadrupled since Larry ;).

    I love Dupleix and Old Food is worth looking out for. Unfortunately, you need to be careful about repackaging of her books -- I borrowed one from the library and was getting inspired and then suddenly realised it was New Food under a different name. All well and good if you haven't actually bought the damned thing though.

    Oh and buy, beg, borrow or steal Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, if you love Nigel.

    By Anonymous Anna V, at 6/29/2006 06:59:00 pm  

  • That sounds very tasty. I've just been eating muesli out of the box since I moved to Melbourne and started the 9-5. I can't find any crunchy nutty nummy oat-clustery granola (which is what I used to eat in California). Muesli comes in second. I like to add unsalted roasted almonds to mine (the boxed ones never have enough!)

    I also have an aversion to too-sweet breakfasts, but I'm not fond of the eggs and sausages either.

    I remember back in boarding school I bought a slow cooker and would make myself chinese porridge (congee/jook) by throwing in rice and chicken stock and some long cooking meat like beef stew meat or pork stew meat in the afternoon, then letting it cook over night. By morning, a thick meaty, starchy, hot, steamy non-sweet breakfast was ready for me! You can do the same thing in most rice cookers.

    You can also make japanese rice balls from sushi rice rolled into little balls, wrapped in clingfilm and stuck in the freezer. They microwave back almost as good as freshly made rice in about a minute and a half. Perhaps not as healthy as muesli, but very satisfying.

    By Anonymous mingerspice, at 6/29/2006 07:35:00 pm  

  • Anna - I'm a big fan of Dupleix. I saw her on the UK show "Good Food Live" and her wit was biting. The annoying host asked if we celebrated Easter at the same time as the UK in Australia and Jill just spat back "That is a *really* stupid question". I don't think they get many guests with balls like the Australians!
    I do love Nigel Slater, but I'm not using him much at the moment because of the butter factor! I think you know what I mean!

    Mingerspice -I love that congee idea so much. It sounds like just the sort of breakfast I'd love. I've occasionally had a bowl of soup for breakfast, so this wouldn't be stretching the idea too far!

    By Blogger Niki, at 6/30/2006 02:14:00 pm  

  • Absolutely fantastic. fresh and wonderful straight out of the fridge, especially in the horrid humid rainy season! And given that bananas are officially the cheapest fruit in Japan, even better! Yes, I'm being smug, but when we pay the equivalent of $AU25 for a smallish watermelon, I think it all evens out.

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