By GMB Nutritionist Melissa Fine
A creamy bowl of bircher is pretty much a non-negotiable option on every café’s (trendy or not) brekkie menu - but that’s not to say bircher is a new ‘thing’.
The brainchild was the ‘father of muesli’, Swiss physician and pioneer nutritionist Maximilian Bircher-Benner back in the early 1900s. Bircher muesli was what he conjured up for his patients at his Vital Force Sanitorium amongst the woods in Switzerland (sounds lovely, doesn’t it?).
This was neighbour to the Dolder Grand Hotel, where the wealthy and affluent holidayed. Many of the hotel’s residents had illnesses Bircher-Benner believed were linked to an over-indulgent diet and lifestyle. It wasn’t long before his sanatorium saw a voluntary influx of residents from the hotel, as well as people especially travelling from overseas - including politicians, artists and musicians - wanting a cure for a whole heap of ailments, ranging from lack of energy and digestive issues through to obesity.
That’s where ‘Order Therapy’, Bircher-Benner’s healthy-living plan came in. This preached self-control and focused on the importance of fresh air, sunlight-exposure, exercise, natural and unprocessed foods and quality sleep for a healthy body and mind.
After a nice long 6am walk in the woods, the sanitorium’s residents would sit down to a bowl of Bircher-Benner’s own concoction which he coined – ‘muesli’, which means ‘little mush.’ Tasty mush, might we add!
So what are the Health Benefits of Bircher Muesli?
Here are just some of the reasons why a quality Bircher muesli can be a better way to start your day than conventional muesli or cereal.
It can help keep you regular
Constipation was a predominant health-issue amongst the residents at Bircher’s sanatorium; this was not surprise seeing their diets were high in meat and refined carbohydrates, and low in fruit. They avoided fruit due to its ‘laxative effect’, having the false belief that regular bowel movements were abnormal; consequently, they suffered stomach-discomfort - alleviated by the high gut-loving fibre content in Bircher muesli, not only from the fruit content, but also the raw oats and nuts.
It’s typically free from undesirable ingredients
Ah the dreaded cereal aisle – so many boxes, and soo many weird and wacky ingredients.
These days, a cereal labelled ‘muesli’ isn’t necessarily a healthy one. Commercial mueslis and other breakfast cereals are typically loaded with salt (surprisingly) and sneaky sugars, not to mention on a base of highly processed refined grains, stripped of all their nutritional goodness.
Bircher muesli on the other hand is based on real-food ingredients that haven’t been messed with. Take Vivien & Alicia’s Cinnamon And Banana Bircher – the only ingredients in here are ones you’d keep in your pantry: Rolled Oats, Almonds, Sultanas Pumpkin Seeds, Dried Banana and Cinnamon (tastes like banana bread in a bowl!).
Bircher can be easier to digest, and aids nutrient-absorption
The overnight soaking process when you make Bircher muesli allows for the starches in the rolled oats to break down so that they’re easier on your digestive system. The soaking process also reduces the ingredients’ phytic acid content; phytic acid is a natural compound found in all plant-based ingredients which reduces the absorption of minerals like iron, zinc and calcium.
So get more goodness out of what you eat and get soaking with our Go-To Bircher Muesli Recipe!
- 1.5 Cups traditional rolled oats, OR Vivien & Alicia’s Cinnamon And Banana Bircher Muesli
- 1.25 Cups milk of choice
- 1 Pink Lady apple grated, skin on
- Big shake of cinnamon
- Combine everything in a deep bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, serve topped with unsweetened Greek yoghurt (or coconut yoghurt if you’re dairy free) and your favourite fruit.
- We love this topped with blueberries.