The Nourisher - Editor’s Blog

When we got married the registry wouldn’t let me put Super Hero as my occupation, they put Home Duties on our marriage certificate instead. But I AM a Super Hero and my Super Hero name is…… The Nourisher.

Bircher Muesli

By Joanne Hay

In traditional cultures, grains are always soaked overnight if not fermented for a number of days to prepare them for consumption. Never have grains been harvested and ground without some time spent wet. Before industrialisation, grain sheafs were left in the field to gather dew before they were stored or used. The reason for this is simple yet vital.

Nature is very intelligent, as we all know. She has created in the seeds of all plants a defence against fungus, bacteria and even some insect life. “All grains contain phytic acid… in the outer layer of the bran. Un treated, phytic acid combines with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in unfermented whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and, in the long term, many other adverse effects.”1
Soaking begins the process of germination. A seed will not grow until there is adequate water for the plant to thrive. So too will you if you soak your grains for at least 12 hours. All Grains, even rice.

Bircher muesli is a traditional Swiss recipe which is far superior to any breakfast cereal (no matter what the packaging says) found on the market.

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup fresh apple juice or orange juice
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt (sugar free is best)
  • handful currants or sultanas
  • handful chopped dried apricots (sulphur free is best)
  • a sprinkling of ground nutmeg
  • a sprinkling of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, grated (skin on) to serve
  • tablespoon melted butter, seasonal berries and chopped crispy almonds to serve.

Combine the rolled oats, juice, yoghurt, currants or sultanas, chopped aprictos, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir together. Chill overnight.

To serve, stir in the grated apple, put into a bowl and garnish with melted butter, berries and crispy almonds.


  1. Fallon S. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, New Trends Publishing.1999. pg 452.
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Joanne Hay, Editor of Nourished Magazine, Chief Nourisher and Mother of three is very grateful to live in Byron Bay and be able to share all she has learned about Nourishment. She has trained as an Acupuncturist (unfinished), Kinesiologist (finished) and parent (never finished). She serves the Weston A Price Foundation as a chapter leader. She loves sauerkraut, kangaroo tail stew, home made ice cream, her husband Wes and her kids Isaiah, Brynn and Ronin (in no particular order…well maybe ice cream first).

COMMENTS - 36 Responses

  1. Having just found your ’site’, I’m putting it into my ‘favorites’ as the receipes sound yummy and my husband is wheat intolerant. I have finely got him to have a go at eating healthy and this site should keep him doing just that.

  2. I had almost given up hope on finding a nutritious and tasty breakfast cereal until I found your recipe for bircher muesli. I will pass it on to my family and friends. I also thoroughly enjoyed your article on the benefits of breastfeeding, which I will pass on to my daughter, the proud mother of a 4 week old baby boy. And yes, she is breastfeeding!

  3. Is it correct that you chill the muesli overnight? I always soak my oats in warm water.

  4. I think warm water is better, especially since reading Sally Fallon’s book. I chill it after a day if there’s left overs though.

  5. Sadly, your recipe is totally wrong. Where did you get it from?

  6. I can’t remember where I got this recipe from but I make it often and it’s very delicious. We’d love to hear your version Kaktose.

  7. Dear Joanne. Am sorry I lost track of your quesry, but your re-visit to my blog brought me back:)

    The fact of the matter is, as Dr Bircher has explained with great emphasis, is that Meusli is per se, NOT a cereal dish, but a fruit dish.

    He strictly recommends not more than ONE tablespoon of otas, with one whole ground (obviously organic) apple. There are many alternative versions of Meusli that he recoomends, mainly by rotation of the fruit, and the nut garnish.

    I am, with a limited knowledge of Ayurveda, not in agreement with his ptting salt in Meusli, because salt and milk should NEVER be mixed.

    Apart from that, the breakfast cereal industry has virtually hijacked the concept of Dr Bircher’s original thinking, so that people wold comsume more and more breakfast cereal.

    Please do not hesitate to respond, if you have any views on the above, which are from Dr Bircher’s original book, the source of the short and crips summary which I have provided on my blog.

    Btw, the tablespoon of butter is so totally not required!

    The problem with grains, is again a little different. The conceot here, is that fresh grains have a lot of “fire” (another concept alien to allopathic medical science) in them. There have been cases of spontaneous fires in wheat silos where fresh grains have been stored.

    The trick, is to eat only old grains, i.e., those that have been kept in storage for months, whether it is rice or whether it is wheat.

    Fermented food, per se, is “sour” in its nature and taste. Excessive “sourness” as in the case of excessive anything, will lead to all the problems associated with it.

    Remember the saying “sour grapes”?. well, the origins of that is, that if you eat to much “sour” you will be prone to jealosy.

    Similarly, the results of eating excessive salt will be a temporay enhancement of the sex drive, and premature aging. That’s why sailors, when they land in ports are so horny, but look aged and wrinkly due to the exposure to salt and salty air.

    Damn, I could go on, but maybe on my blog!

    hope that I have provided some “nutrition” to re-think some of the concepts.

  8. 8. Alex Lamont
    Sep 1st, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Kaktose, I must assume that you are not a man if you believe it is due to excessive salt that causes sailors to be so horny after months away at sea in a small boat! I will try this recipe from Joanne but do think the butter sounds questinable. I live in Thailand and always add tropical fruit to muesli. Try this chilled with mango and papaya and it completely lifts the morning taste buds to sublimity.

  9. If you’re in the tropics, Alex, use coconut cream or coconut oil. I recommend eating some saturated fat with the muesli because it gives you instant energy while your body takes it’s time assimilating the grains, evening out your blood sugar. If you’re worried about saturated fat, please read this article, you’ll find it’s not the demon you’ve been lead to believe. Paw Paw sounds just divine. I’m considering doing the milk cure with kefirred milk and paw paw for a few days this Spring. I’ve written about the milk cure at the end of this month’s Liver Nourishing article and there was an article all about it a few months ago, here. I’ll come out of the ‘fast’ by adding other things to my hourly glass of kefir like coconut cream, egg, butter, other fruit, honey, bit by bit. It’s an experiment. I’ll keep you all updated on my blog.

  10. Joanne, coconut oil or cream has more saturated fat in it than even pure butter, it is also a solid fat. While saturated fat is not bad for you in limited amounts, depending on your cholesterol levels, liquid unsaturated oils and fats are positively good for you, so the choice to me should be an easy one. A sprinkle of walnut oil or flax seed or Avocado oil is better for you and will actively help reduce the bad cholesterol levels in your body no matter what level they are at. Saturated fat will simply add to them in all cases.

    For a better understanding have a good and interesting read on the Harvard School of Public Health site. In this day and age of conflicting and often biased and self serving opinion it is a very refreshing site. Their findings are also all backed up with up to date research, the site is also very nicely presented and accessible.

  11. Paul, all non-industrialised people sought out animals with high stores of animal fat. Hunting or butchering only when they were at their fattest. Why would they do this if saturated fat was only good in limited amounts?

    Ancel Key’s work has been discredited over and over again, leaving science with little proof to the saturated fat-heart disease theory.

    Take, for example, a 2004 Harvard University study of older women with heart disease. Researchers found that the more saturated fat these women consumed, the less likely it was their condition would worsen. Lead study author Dariush Mozaffarian, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Harvard’s school of public health, recalls that before the paper was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, he encountered formidable politics from other journals.
    “In the nutrition field, it’s very difficult to get something published that goes against established dogma,” says Mozaffarian. “The dogma says that saturated fat is harmful, but that is not based, to me, on unequivocal evidence.” Mozaffarian says he believes it’s critical that scientists remain open minded. “Our finding was surprising to us. And when there’s a discovery that goes against what’s established, it shouldn’t be suppressed but rather disseminated and explored as much as possible.”

    For example, in a new 12-week study, University of Connecticut scientists placed overweight men and women on either a low-carb or low-fat diet. Those who followed the low-carb diet consumed 36 grams of saturated fat per day (22 percent of total calories), which represented more than three times the amount in the low-fat diet. Yet despite this considerably greater intake of saturated fat, the low-carb dieters reduced both their number of small, dense LDL cholesterol and their HDL/LDL ratio to a greater degree than those who ate a low-fat diet. In addition, triglycerides decreased by 51 percent in the low-carb group compared with 19 percent in the low-fat group.

    Dr. Krauss found that when people replace the carbohydrates in their diet with fat “saturated or unsaturated” the number of small, dense LDL particles decreases. This leads to the highly counterintuitive notion that replacing your breakfast cereal with eggs and bacon could actually reduce your risk of heart disease.

    Reveals the corporate interest in keeping saturated fat in the bad books.

    The “cholesterol makes heart disease” theory is just as shonky as the “saturated fat makes cholesterol theory”.

    For independent science on cholesterol and health.

  12. To Alex and Paul above who questioned Joanne’s recipes, Joanne is obviously an active proponent of non-traditional diets so there is no point arguing with her from a traditional nutrition point of view.

    People from non-industrialised societies generally died much younger than we do today, so the many health problems we currently experience in later life were not so pronounced. If you do a lot of physical activity, consuming a lot of animal fat is an easy and valid way to provide energy, however I’m guessing most readers of this website don’t walk more than 7000 steps a day (popular thinking recommends walking at least 10,000 steps).

    As for eating raw liver (see Joanne’s liver nourishing article), I don’t know why you would bother (why freeze it and swallow in pill sizes to minimise the yucky raw flavour?) when cooked liver tastes so good. The medieval recipes cited do not use raw liver. I would class heating without boiling as a form of slow cooking. And I definitely would not want to start with the recommended large portion of liver and slowly cut back until the headaches and joint pains go away.

    Joanne, apologies if I’ve offended, it was not intended, just want to provide a bit of balance to the comments. I enjoyed reading some of your articles even though I don’t agree with all of your ideas. Everyone is entitled to have their own views on health and nutrition, and one can only hope readers are intelligent enough to make their own decisions about diets and lifestyles.

  13. Having discussion about food is why most of us are here. Most of us would have been attracted to the site for health reasons both in the pursuit of well being or to cure an ill.
    The bottom line for all us, even if you don’t agree with Bircher Muesli or the way liver is consumed is that something is terribly wrong with out diets today. As the says “We have more doctors and more drugs than any civilization in history” yet cancer and heart related illness have increased year upon year. Cholesterol misinformation is alive and well.
    Personally, I followed all that Men’s Health and other media preached for years.. blindly following, thinking they should know right? Wrong! Sites like Joanne’s have opened my eyes to what the untold story is. Greed, money and self interest. Over the past 6 months I have read many views from all sorts of people from all kinds of backgrounds. There are varying views, but there is a pattern… protein, saturated fats and low carbs are the common themes. Of course people eat for different reasons, but essentially..
    I have mentioned this person before, but I thoroughly reccommend reading Anthony Colpo. He has done some terrific research on the myths of cholesterol and he is practising what he preaches with health and diet. He has also learnt with facts the real story and is prepared to back up what he preaches. That’s good enough for me.

  14. Dora, I don’t think Joanne would be offended by your statements. I would like to pull you up on your first sentence though, as I think you will find that it is actually the other way around, as in…
    “Joanne is obviously an active proponent of Traditional Diets”. Well last time I ate with her anyway, I have been out all day so she may have changed while I was gone, but I doubt it ;-)

    And Raw Liver rocks! Each to their own. It’s one of my personal favorites.

    Glen, I couldn’t agree more. Something is not right. I just spent the day at the Gold Coast and had a tough time eating anywhere because all I could find was junk food shops. I finally made it to my ‘oasis’ on the coast - Luka’s Fish & Chips for some traditional Fish & Chips cooked in Beef Tallow. Oh yeah!

  15. BLA BLA BLA…who cares whats in it or what its actual name is,what fruit to use,coconut oil or butter.

    Dr bircher came up with the original “bircher mueslie” but just like many other recipes out there these days…there are different versions.noone is wrong,noone is right.lets just eat what we like to eat and stop being so damn “catty” about it…WHO CARES!?….lifes too short!

  16. Hi, I just discovered this interesting discussion while looking for a Bircher muesli recipe. I ate some in a cafe & it was so yummy I want to try & do it myself. But Joanne, the crispy nuts link isn’t working - can you point me to the correct link?

    Just to add my 2 cents worth to the older discussion on saturated fats, I’ve just been to Ghana where saturated palm oil is a big part of the diet. In rural areas where people do a lot of manual labour they are lean & muscular, but in cities doing sedentary work, it’s obviously not doing them much good and the media even had stories about Ghana’s obesity problems.

    Some time ago I came across an interesting article in the New Scientist about some guy who decided to experiment with meat only diets & lived with inuit people for a while to look into it. His theory was that it doesn’t matter how much fat you eat, in fact it is beneficial, so long as you eat all the other parts of the animal as well. These days most people, me included, won’t go near offal & only eat lean meat - food for thought eh?

  17. 17. Josephine
    Jan 6th, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    I have enjoyed reading this healthy debate on diet. I dont think anyone participating can be accused of being catty. Its great to see people responding with constructed arguments from different points of view. I ate some Bircher Muesli for the first time this morning. Not this exact recipe - didn’t do the butter and had different fruits and nuts - it’s quite a versatile recipe. It sustained my hunger well into the day!

  18. i made this last night, added no butter, put all the ingreds in at once, including apple as this is how i remember it, and it was perfect. i always serve with milk as i find it too heavy otherwise, and my husand agrees, this recipe is authentic to my memory of it, whatever the arguments for or against. its a great energising way to start the day, does anything else really matter?

  19. I just sent this around to some friends at work. Thought I’d paste it here. Slight variation to the recipe above in that it’s less heavy because of the water (soaked in - not watery). My husband is casein intolerant but he can have ‘live’ yoghurt. To have a break from the goats milk now and then we use this recipe. The yohurt (normal not ‘lite’ and water make seem milky).

    Magnificent Muesli (Bircher style)
    ~Much easier for your digestive system than normal muesli

    Put muesli in glass bowl
    *Try a few sultanas or cut up dried dates for added sweetness

    Pour hot water on muesli

    When it cools enough that it doesn’t burn your finger (or just don’t heat it that high) mix in a bit of good quality yoghurt.
    *If the water is too hot for your finger it is too hot for the good bacteria in the yogurt and they’ll die, which isn’t good because their job is to break down the gluten and phytic acid in the grains and make them more digestible.

    Stir in some nutmeg/cinnamon, cover and leave on the bench over night.
    *Don’t be scared of it going off, the good bacteria will be at work.

    Serve with honey, yoghurt and fresh fruit for a delicious start to the day.

    *If any leftovers, put in fridge.

  20. If we are soaking the rolled oats due to the phytic acid, should we also discard the soak water?

  21. Remember, you need to use an acidulated liquid (whey, lemon juice) to soak your grains in, in order to “pull’ the phytic acids out of the grains. No need to throw out the soak water.

  22. Hi, I think it makes sense to discard the soak water because of the phytic acid. And I also find oats more nourishing if I cook them (as poridge) for hours (in addition to soaking of course). I actually make poridge in the oven overnight so I don’t have to keep stiring it.

  23. The soak water does not need discarding, because the phytates are neutralized.

    Researchers have conducted experiments on mineral absorption
    that show clearly that phytates matter. A study of iron absorption
    in cereal porridges found in some cases a 12-fold increase in the
    absorption of iron when the phytic acid was removed from the
    food. Participants absorbed only about 1% of the iron in their wheat
    porridge but that absorption rate increased to 12% when
    the phytic acid was removed (Hurrel et al. 2003).

    Another set of experiments examined depression-fighting zinc and
    magnesium. Researchers provided two groups of people with
    bread – one group with a bread with phytates, and one with a
    control bread with the phytates removed. Researchers then
    studied participants’ mineral absorption via stool samples.
    Without phytic acid, participants absorbed about 30% of
    magnesium and zinc. With phytic acid, participants absorbed only
    13% of their magnesium and 23% of their zinc (Egli et al. 2004;
    Bohn et al. 2004).

    Here’s some articles on this:-,

  24. I ‘googled’ Dr. Bircher, after seeing a recipe on TV and missing some of the ingredients. Then i came upon this fascinating debate! I like to think I understand nutrition to some extent … what to eat … what not to eat … but now i’m not so sure … What bugs me, though, is WHO DO I BELIEVE??? Is it Audrey Eyton’s F2 (high fibre) diet i should be following? Or the GI rules? Or the low-carb? Or the boiled eggs and grapefruit (yuck ….). I wouldn’t be surprised if someone hadn’t already invented the “stick your finger in your left ear while eating blended camel dung through a muslin sieve” diet …. :-) I think, on reflection, i’m going to follow the “everything in moderation” school of thought. At least i’ll be covering all the bases!

  25. What a gem of a discussion.
    I too ‘happened’ upon Joanne’s recipe (and this discussion) while seeking a Bircher Muesli recipe for a special birthday breakfast for my wife.
    Having first tasted BM 4 years ago on an airline flight (!!), we have enjoyed it over the years in its many variations. Most recently, while in India, we had an excellent BM at the Hyatt in New Delhi. We even called the head chef to compliment him on something so simple. (He turned out to be from Austria)
    My questions 1) what do I need to do with regard to the Phytic Acid? Soak overnight and drain the fluids? Or if I soak the Oats in Pear or Apple juice with Yogurt - do I need to worry? 2) Do I add the yogurt the night before and leave to soak or soak the oats with a fruit juice and add the yogurt the next morning?

    Liver: My wife suffers from a non-alcoholic cirrhosed liver and I would like any advice from the group on liver health diet.

    May the world have more such folk like you- People who can disagree without being rude and crude in getting their pov across?

    Cheers & Good Health

  26. 26. Erin Hasler-Bail
    Jun 11th, 2009 at 12:57 am

    All i was looking for was a simple bircher muesli recipe….it was a bonus to come across this wonderful and interesting discussion! I am a 20 yr old health concious person who likes to puts effort into looking after my body. Personally, the discussion was a great read as it emphasised the fact that there is so much research and information available to us about nutrition, and it is always growing and changing. It was a very insightful read for such a young mind :) It can become unclear about what to follow- with so much information and so many suggestions out there now (low carb diets, high protein diets etc), but it is comforting to know there are so many people dedicated to discovering the best way to look after our bodies. But it is not only them who must do the work. As others do, I like to read up on much as i can and be aware of any healthy changes i can make. I take a little bit from here and a little bit from there and i follow a diet thats best for my body. I listen to my body and give it what it needs…and sometimes what it wants * puts chocolate square in mouth* ha ha, id have to agree with ‘Vee’ on this one that ‘Everything in moderation is the key’.

  27. Bettina,
    For the recipe I posted you can’t really throw out the soak water anyway because most of it has been absorbed. I only put in enough water to just cover it.
    The ‘live’ yoghurt (I usually just use Jalna biodynamic, plain [not the fat free one]) provides the lactic acid medium necessary to breakdown the phytates.

  28. 28. Cathy Mifsud
    Jun 12th, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    for what its worth don’t buy Julna they add milk solids to their yogurt and its toxic. I only know of 3 that don’t, Aphrodite (when avail), Marook Farm and Paris creek. IGA will stock Paris Creek if you ask them too. Not that this effects the soaking but i wouldn’t eat it.

  29. That saying “everything in moderation” is for very politically-correct nutrition; definitely not a good way to eat.

  30. Aw man!! So I’m feeling all superior ‘cos I’ve just mixed in some warm water, organic oats and Jalna biodyn yogurt together to soak o/night for the first time (I just got my “Nourishing traditions” book in the post), and now I’m reading that it’s toxic…the Jalna that is…:( By the way does anyone know of whole grain suppliers in Victoria?

  31. 31. Cathy Mifsud
    Jun 14th, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Your post was so nice and i think your wife is especially lucky to have you!
    I had hep once, a long, long time ago and I healed my liver with gentle herb teas and St Mary’s Thistle tincture. Medi herb is supposed to be excellent usually from natural med shop, or I used Greenridge at the time. No blends just straight up St Mary’s 3 times a day before a meal. I ate as best I knew at the time, no junk or processed foods. I was vegetarian but added in eggs and sardines for some time after i came out of hospital and i think these new additions really helped me. I hear coconut oil (virgin) is excellent too, small, small amounts first built up slowly. 1/2 teaspoon a day built up over a month or more depending how she reacts to 3 or more tablespoons a day. If there is nausea/diarr then cut right back.
    Buy a copy of Nourishing Traditions it will help. And i recently read how effective probiotic (home made) sauerkraut is for the liver. There’s a blog on how to make it here at Nourished. A good probiotic is essential for good health.
    Focus on diet, fresh air, very gentle exercise and lots of rest and keep away from hospitals, doctors and medications.
    She will get better, the liver is capable of some miraculous healing. When ever I see St Mary’s Thistle growing I regard the land as holy!
    Hope this helps, just my little bit.

  32. I recently ordered Muesli in a Hotel we were staying at in Hobart and came this beautiful muesli, mixed with grated apple, strawberries and yoghurt. There were also pumpkin seeds and almonds that I could see. But truly delicious.
    I decided to come home andGoogle Bircher and find so many different types and I am sure they are all as great as each other. I am so happy that I have found this site and look forward to reading it with interest.

  33. Lara,
    Don’t be discouraged! There’s always more improvements to be made. At least with the Jalna biodynamic yoghurt it’s only >5% milk solids (thanks Cathy), which compared to many others is okay! I’m going to try and hunt down another yoghurt source now (my own are too runny) but at least if you’re comparing yoghurts the Jalna one is the lesser of many evils.
    Blessings for the adventure of new discoveries, Amanda

  34. 34. Cathy Mifsud
    Jun 24th, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Just a suggestion, for the home made yogurt mine comes out pretty runny too. I make it with raw milk and I don’t heat it past 45 degress. I make 1 1/2 litres and then I separate the whey from some of the yogurt, say 1/2 litre by straining through cheese cloth (or other fabric). I then throw the curd into the yogurt which thickens it up and I use the whey for fermenting or adding to bone broth mix instead of vinegar.

  35. 35. Alan Halsted
    Apr 29th, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Hi Joanne

    I just found your site, fantastic btw!

    I have my own bircher which I have modified from healthfood shop versions which has astounded me with its high protein content and sustained energy through the morning. Soaking it all the night before is key, pref in cloudy apple juice, left out covered rather than in the fridge. All the seeds below are basically a tablespoon full.

    Oats, maybe a cup
    a few almonds
    Sesame seeds
    sunflower seeds
    buckwheat - 2 tablespoons
    chia seeds
    Millet (though this is still in experimentation phase as soaking overnight in apple juice does nothing to soften it, even water is no good, so maybe will try cooked)
    I don’t really bother with the dried fruit

    Sometimes I add a spoon of Jalna plain yoghurt to the soaking process, but usually wait till morning and add 2 tablespoons and mix it all up.

    I tend to make a largish bowl, and half half, and finish the rest at about 10.30 in the morning at my desk. I find this takes me to lunch with absolutely no snacking cravings, and a very stable energy level. I have a very high metabolism and love that I have found a meal that works this efficiently. It is also a great training food for my long distance cycling. Not only does it taste amazing, there are so many good textures to add to this slow food breakfast. Feel the seeds pop between your teeth!

    I also have my brother Richard to thank for introducing me to the whole bircher thing 2 years ago, and I have never looked back.

    Thanks for letting me share!

  36. I’m Swiss - WE know muesli :) - Joannes recipe was about spot on


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