Sometimes you just never know when or where you are going to meet your new favorite food. In my case, it was on a breakfast buffet in a fancy (to me) hotel in Brisbane a couple of months ago. Along with other cereals, fruit and yogurt, there was a container of something called Toasted Muesli. It looked interesting, so I spooned a little on top of my bowl of yogurt and fruit.
It was great that way, adding crunch and taste much like granola does. As I was savoring each bite, I had one of my “I can make this” moments. So I went back to the buffet and got a little dish of just the muesli by itself. Then I borrowed a pen and piece of paper from my wife and we started trying to identify all the ingredients.
Along with a base of rolled oats, it had sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, along with almonds, raisins, coconut, and buckwheat groats. I also saw some tiny little puffy white bits, and I was amazed to pull one out and see it was popped amaranth. Now I was hooked. I had to make this when I got home!
Muesli was developed around 1900 by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for his patients to eat as part of a healthy diet. His version featured more fruits than grains, but today muesli has morphed into a mix that can contain just about any combination of grains, nuts, and fresh or dried fruits. It can be served dry, or with milk or fruit juice added before serving, or even soaked in liquid overnight. I usually serve mine with added fresh fruit and a splash of almond milk. And sometimes I let the milk soak in for a half hour or so before I eat it.
Most of the recipes I found for toasted muesli had oil and sweeteners added, unlike the one I had in Brisbane. So I did my own experimenting, and came up with a version that suited my tastes. The grains and nuts are lightly toasted in the oven, without any added oil or sweeteners. After they cool, they are mixed with dried fruit.
The combinations for muesli are endless. You can easily adapt this recipe to include your own favorite grains, fruits, seeds and nuts. I love the addition of popped amaranth, which adds fiber and protein as well as a nice flavor and texture. I pop the dry amaranth in a deep sauce pan over medium heat, adding one tablespoon at a time and then quickly closing the lid. It pops in a few seconds, and then I remove it to a bowl and add another spoonful.