Bircher muesli, also known by a couple of other names, most notably ‘Overnight Oats’, was invented in Switzerland in the 1930s. For anyone who is a little slow in the mornings, or even for those who are early birds and just like to be organised, it makes the perfect breaky on-the-go as it’s best when made the night before.
It was a little tricky to get this recipe down as I tend to just make it and judge by look and consistency for the quantities. But I think I’ve pretty much captured the basic recipe I follow here. I add any number of different ingredients, flavours and textures depending on the season, what I have around the house and what I fancy! If I want to make it so it’s ready to go in the morning I’ll make it in individual jars, if I know I’ll be eating at home, I just make one big batch and spoon out what I need each morning. I’d usually make 3 days worth at once, though this recipe is only enough for 2 people or 2 days.
I like to include seeds in my base recipe for extra protein and goodness, but if you want to omit these the recipe will still work. Flaxseeds (linseeds) and chia seeds work the best as they swell and absorb some of the liquid (similar to the oats).
I love eating oats in the morning as they are high in fibre, a whole grain and contain iron and calcium. They keep me full for quite some time which I love. Try and use proper organic rolled oats, not instant oats. Both traditional and instant oats are rich in beta-glucan, which helps lower cholesterol absorption, however, instant oats have a slightly higher glycaemic index (GI) because they’re more refined. This means you digest them more easily than you do classic rolled oats, but you may not feel full for quite as long.
Many recipes I’ve seen use apple juice as the liquid. I find this much too sweet and quite rough on the gut first thing in the morning. You could use a dash of fresh / organic apple juice mixed in with the milk to form part of the liquid component, but I recommend against replacing the milk entirely with juice. No one needs that much sugar first thing!
Nothing warms a cold winter morning better than a hot bowl of porridge. Bircher muesli / overnight oats are my warm weather oats, perfect for hot summer mornings.
I have to dedicate this recipe to my girlfriend Alex, she is the queen of oats and would often make overnight oats when we lived in London together. She likes eating them, likes cooking them, orders them when she’s out and even likes the colour ‘oatmeal.’
I’ve included in this recipe:
- A base recipe – this is the basic starting point for the overnight oats
- Sweeteners & flavours – these are additions to stir through the base recipe that add flavour and sweetness (if you want to be extra healthy just omit the sweetener). They can be stirred through in the evening or the morning.
- Toppings – these are the flavours and textures I like to add on top when the overnight oats are ready
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup milk (almond, oat, cashew, rice, kefir, cow etc.)
- 3/4 cup plain yoghurt (coconut or cow's)
- 1/4 cup seeds (flaxseeds, chia seeds are best)
- Pinch of salt
- Sweetener: honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, brown sugar
- Stir in fruit: sultanas/raisins, other chopper dried fruit, goji berries, Grated apple (add a squeeze of lemon if you are doing apple)
- Spices: cinnamon, cardamon, vanilla
- Texture: shredded coconut, chopped nuts, cocoa nibs, seeds (e.g. pumpkin or sunflower), nut butter
- Fresh fruit: stone fruit (e.g. peaches, plums, nectarines), banana, berries, apple, pear, passionfruit
- Stewed fruit (made in advance): peaches, rhubarb, quinces, apple etc.
Stir all base recipe ingredients together in a medium sized bowl until combined.
Add whatever flavours and sweeteners you like – picking one from each category is usually a good idea (one sweetener, one stir in fruit, one spice). Quantity wise, do this to taste, but it's safer to start with smaller amounts. Mix to combine.
Place in a sealed container / jar and store in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, top with your toppings of choice!