Better than Bircher Müesli: Fruity Chia Bowl

Fruity Chia Bowl

Growing up in Switzerland – and the Swiss-German part no less – Bircher müesli was everywhere. In Switzerland, no hotel breakfast buffet is complete without this beloved breakfast food.

Bircher müesli or simply Bircher as it is called in the French part of Switzerland where I have lived for the past 16 years, is a breakfast of oats soaked in milk, yoghurt, fruits, nuts and seeds. It is made in advance and kept in the fridge to be eaten over several days, making it a quick and convenient breakfast food.

Bircher müesli was invented by a Swiss doctor called Maximilian Bircher-Benner as a way of helping the patients at his sanatorium in Zürich heal through the power of soaked cereal, fruits, and raw nuts and seeds. This might sound obvious to our modern ears, but was revolutionary at the end of the 19th century when meat, potatoes and white bread were the norm.

And while the original Bircher müesli is a pretty good breakfast choice if you are able to digest milk and oats, I am not a fan of either and I know many people also find them hard to digest.

Enter the Fruity Chia Bowl: Using a simple cashew milk instead of milk and chia seeds instead of oats, this breakfast is better than Bircher and might even keep you going for longer.

Indeed, chia seeds were the food of choice for Aztec and Mayan warriors, who believed that a single tablespoon would keep them going for 24 hours. I am not sure I can guarantee 24 hours, but my husband and I both tried 5-6 hours between breakfast and lunch and it definitely kept us going! I wrote more about the wonder of chia seeds here in case you need more convincing!

This Fruity Chia Bowl is super easy to prepare, taking only a few minutes in the evening and can be eaten for up to 4-5 days. There is something I find very gratifying about food that is waiting for you in the fridge: I see it as a love note from me to me or my husband.

So here’s how to prepare your own love note to yourself and your family. The recipe is very versatile, so feel free to adapt it to suit your needs or just keep things interesting!

INGREDIENTS (for about 8 servings)

1 cup/175 grams raw, unsalted cashews – preferably soaked for 3-4 hours to make them more digestible and easier to blend. Rinse well before using.

FRUIT OF YOUR CHOICE such as:

250 grams raspberries (I used frozen without defrosting them first)

1 medium apple (sour apples like Granny Smiths give more taste)

1 medium pear

1 medium banana

Juice of 1 lemon

3.5 cups/950 ml water

3/4 cup or 135 grams chia seeds

Spice of your choice – a little vanilla or cinnamon powder work well. I usually don’t add spices during preparation and add  some to my bowl instead so I can change the taste a little every day.

METHOD

Chop fruit into the size you like and place in a big container that has a lid. Place the frozen raspberries in there as well. Pour the lemon juice over the fruit and stir. The lemon juice is very important as it helps keep the fruit fresh and lends a sour, almost yoghurt-like taste.

Drain and rinse soaked cashew and put them in a blender with the water. You have just made cashew milk! If you want a sweeter taste, you can add a little maple syrup, honey or dates to this mixture although I find it doesn’t need additional sweetness thanks to the fruit. If you are adding spices you can also add them in at this point.

Once you have made your cashew milk, add the chia seeds. Pulse very briefly on the lowest setting of your blender – just enough to mix the chia seeds without actually blending them.

Pour the milky mixture over the fruits and stir. If you want an even closer experience to the original Bircher, you could add quinoa or buckwheat flakes and stir again. I don’t personally find this is necessary and prefer the taste and texture without.

Cover the container and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to allow the chia seeds to create a jelly-like texture.

You can keep your Fruity Chia Bowl in the fridge for about 4-5 days, so you have breakfast ready for almost the whole week! For the best taste, take your Fruity Chia out of the fridge at least 10 minutes before eating.

You can now find chia seeds in any organic store. I usually order them online here as they are cheaper to buy in bigger sizes. You can use code WIV403 to get up to $10 off your first order.

Are you a fan of Bircher müesli? Let me know what you think if you give this alternative a try! 

Chia Pudding, Winter Style

Chia Pudding, winter styleWith 20% protein, 25% dietary fiber and about 35% healthy fats, mostly Omega 3, chia seeds are one of my favorite seeds to use on a regular basis. They are also a good sources of iron, calcium and other vitamins and minerals.

Chia seeds are great for thickening foods due to their jelly like consistency in liquid. This makes them an ideal ingredient in puddings so healthy you can also have them for breakfast, like this one!

This is a basic chia seed pudding recipe that I have spiced up and zested up to make it more winter-y. I find that the combination of spices and orange and lemon zest make for a very Christmassy taste that is reminiscent of cookies like the Basel Leckerli that I loved growing up in the German part of Switzerland.

This recipe takes only a few minutes to whip up and can be kept in the fridge for several days. I usually have chia pudding as a breakfast or dessert and you can also have it as a snack.

Blend together:

2 Tbsp almond butter + 3 dl water or 3 dl almond or other nut milk

2-3 Medjool dates

¼ tsp cardamom + ½ tsp nutmeg + ¼ tsp cardamon + 1 tsp cinnamon

Then add to the blender:

40g or 1/4 cup chia seeds

zest of 1 organic orange and 1 organic lemon

Pulse very briefly on the lowest setting of your blender – just enough to mix the chia seeds and lemon and orange zest with the other ingredients.

Place in individual cups or one big jar and put in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours. The pudding will take on a more solid, jelly-like consistency when it is ready.

I order the chia seeds you can see in the video here. You can use code WIV403 to get up to $10 off your first order.

Want more recipes like this?

Download my Healthy Sweet Christmas eBook with recipes for cookies, granola, chocolate and spreads that are all gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free.

 

Eating away from home

This weekend was my birthday (33 already!) and I spent a few beautiful days in the south of France.

Of course, this involved quite a bit of eating out, making this the perfect time to share my eating away from home philosophy:

♦ If it is a special occasion, enjoy it and enjoy the company instead of obsessing about the food. Remember that 80% is perfection – but also that being with people you love and having a great time is just as important for your health as what you eat.

♦ As a general rule, try to make the healthiest choice possible in the context you are in. Regardless of where you are – in a restaurant or at an airport for example – cultivate the habit of always choosing the most healthy (or least unhealthy) choice available. Don’t let yourself off the hook just because there isn’t anything you would classify as really ‘healthy’. There is always a ‘healthier’ option and this can actually end up making a big difference in the long run, especially if you eat out a lot.

♦ Don’t be afraid to ask for changes to an order – such as vegetables with steak instead of fries. Restaurants are surprisingly flexible about this and if they can’t do it, they’ll let you know. No harm in asking!

Share! My mother used to say ‘Calories shared are calories halved’ and this is the philosophy I use particularly with desserts.

Stop eating when you are full. We tend to associate an empty plate with being full, but if you listen to your body’s signals, you might actually feel full before that. Despite what you might have heard as a child, you ARE allowed to leave food on your plate.

♦ I also like to bring some of my own food, in case we don’t have time to stop for a meal or need a snack. For this trip, I made the chia bread below based on this recipe.

chia bread

 What about you, do you have any other tips for eating out?

Morning rituals + 2 easy breakfasts

I really believe that the way you start your morning massively influences the rest of your day. If you wake up with an angry alarm going off and then rush through your morning, eating breakfast on the run and running to catch the bus to work – how do you expect the rest of your day to be? And because your every day eventually becomes your life, changing your relationship to mornings can make a massive difference to how you live.

I know a lot of people don’t consider themselves morning people. I do not consider myself a morning person, yet my morning routine has now become such a vital part of my day that I feel something is off when I don’t do it.

Morning routines can involve meditation, exercise, yoga, writing or being in nature. The key is to do something only for yourself, even if it involves waking up 10 minutes before everyone else at home to have this time for yourself.

How about trying to make just 5 minutes of me-time first thing in the morning this week, just to see if it makes any difference?  

Another vital part of mornings, is of course, breakfast. Most of the people I work with have packed lives and often end up eating out for lunch and dinner. Breakfast is the one meal they can really control, so we put in that extra effort to make sure it is healthy since it influences 30% of the day’s nutrients. Even more importantly, recent research quoted by Dr Andrew Weil shows that a healthy breakfast

…improves your metabolic response to subsequent meals throughout the day. This means that one consequence of eating a healthy breakfast is that no matter what you choose for lunch (and possibly dinner), your body will handle it a little better than it would have if you ate something made of processed grains and sugars, or skipped breakfast all together.

I already shared my current smoothie obsession which is a very versatile breakfast option, and here are two even quicker options. They are both made using whole grains which are a much better option to the typical, processed breakfast cereal. You can also make a bigger quantity and keep it in the fridge to eat over several mornings.

soaked buckwheat goodness.001

 

5 minute overnight oats

What about you, what is your morning currently like? Are you willing to try waking up just 5 minutes early this week to create your own morning ritual? 

PS – If this blog post left you hugging your sweetened cereal box, refusing to let it go, read this article :)

 

Carob Chia Pudding of Love

In health food circles, carob is often seen as the poor cousin to cacao – touted as a a caffeine-free substitute but not much else.

Carob deserves to be known and loved in its own right, both for the taste and health benefits. I think I feel this kinship to carob powder because we are both originally from the Middle East – only carob grows on the pods of trees.

Carob is very soothing to the stomach and is a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, fiber and protein. It also contains vitamins A, B, and D. You can buy the powder in any health food store  – I add it mostly to smoothies but it can also be used in desserts such as the Carob Chia Pudding of Love I made for my husband on Valentine’s Day.

RECIPE:

Put 1 cup almond or coconut milk

1/4 cup chia seeds

1-2 tablespoons carob powder

5 medjool dates (pitted)

A sprinkle of vanilla powder (optional)

 

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse, then pour into glasses and place in the fridge to chill for at least 1-2 hours. Top with cacao nibs for some crunch before serving.

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A Healthy Alternative: Chia Seeds

Like quinoa or amaranth, chia seeds are originally from Central and South America and actually come from the same family as both sage and mint!

Health Benefits:

With 20% protein, 25% dietary fiber and about 35% healthy fats, mostly Omega 3, chia seeds are a great addition to any diet. They are also a good sources of iron, calcium and other vitamins and minerals.

Like flaxseeds, chia seeds are one of the few plant-based sources of omega 3. Unlike flaxseeds, however, they do not need to be ground to be beneficial and can be kept for years and heated without going rancid or losing their nutritional benefits.

Using Chia Seeds:

This versatile food can be used as more than just a seed due to its jelly like consistency when water is added. Here are a few ideas.

1. Sprinkle them over anything

Because they have virtually no taste, they can be sprinkled over pretty much anything to boost the nutrition and fiber content without changing the flavor. I find this works especially well for breakfast foods – added to cereal, porridge or oatmeal but can also be used on savory dishes like soups, salads or pasta.

2. Add them to baked goods or smoothies

Cakes, cookies, breads, crackers or bars can be made more nutritious by adding chia seeds into the batter or by using them as a topping. They can also be added to smoothies.

They can also be used as an egg substitute in baking by combining 1 teaspoon of ground chia seeds with 1/4 cup water per egg.

3. Chia gel

You can also make chia gel, a jelly like substance that can add consistency to soups, sauces or puddings by combining 1 part chia seeds with 2 parts warm water. This can be stored in the fridge and used when needed.

Recipes

Carob Chia Pudding

Overnight Oats