Bircher muesli, breakfast of champions

Bircher muesli

My grandpa used to say, “Getting old sucks.” Well, he probably used the term “stinks”, but it amounts to the same. As the years go by, life takes its toll on our bodies. We’re not as resilient as we once were. Maybe we partied a little too hard – ahem – when we were younger, never imagining the day when we would have to watch what we eat and when exercise would become a necessity rather than something fun that just happened of its own accord.

For me, getting old started happening at age 30. Literally overnight the gals at the grocery store stopped calling me Mademoiselle and started referring to me as Madame; my pubic hair starting migrating down my thighs; I could no longer drink milk without being bloated for hours afterward and I developed a thyroid condition.

It took me a year to be properly diagnosed with hypo-thyroid, and a full three years before I found the correct dosage of medication and was stabilized. It’s a common enough condition, both my parents had it, and you basically resign yourself to taking pills every day for the rest of your life. The medication is taken in the morning, and must be done on an empty stomach to be metabolized properly. Failure to do so results in weight gain, fatigue, irritation, and a slew of other not-so-fun symptoms (which I arguably have anyway). I do cheat – I drink my coffee pretty soon after I’m up and pills swallowed. But no more orange juice right off the bat. No more diving into my bowl of cereal straight away.

Oh yeah, and did I mention? Milk doesn’t go down the way it used to. A bowl of cereal and I feel like a blow fish for the better part of the day.

Getting old sucks. But does it have to?

I’d like to think not. I’d like to think that with our age and changing circumstances comes a certain amount of wisdom, a certain capacity to adapt if not a full-on refusal to be defeated.

It takes time to get to know yourself, to get to know your body. Especially because we must do so in light of outside opinions and of mitigating circumstances. For a long time I didn’t want to admit that milk was bad for me. Just like for a long time I tried to pretend that breakfast wasn’t so important. While figuring out what doesn’t work can be relatively easy, finding what does work takes trial and error.

In addition to needing to wait to eat in the morning, I’m not generally very hungry at that hour. But I get tired fast, and come lunch I’m often starving. Recently I decided I needed a change, and took a poll on Twitter to find out what other people were doing for breakfast. I got some great responses.

Oh bacon, how I love thee, let me count the ways…

Bacon, French toast, pancakes – there are lots of things I would love to eat in the morning, but few that are practical. Ok, so let’s see, 1) I need to wait at least 30 minutes before eating, 2) I’m generally not very hungry, 3) I don’t have a lot of time so need something quick and easy, 4) it’s got to pack a wallop – I need it to tide me over ’til lunch, 5) it’s gotta be something tasty – I can’t eat just anything. Eggs for example, I just can’t eat in the morning. Love eggs, but for me, they’re something I prefer for lunch or dinner.

Wait, Bircher muesli? What’s that? Oats, fruit, yogurt…no cooking, can skip the milk, can prepare it advance…why have I never heard of this before?! Good *and* good for you, sign me up!

I will not go gentle into that good night now that I have discovered Bircher muesli. It’s delicious, easy to make, full of fiber, vitamins and energy – just what the doctor ordered. The only thing I haven’t quite worked out is the quantity. It’s so good that you want to eat more than you really need to get you through the morning. Plus, I have to share. My husband, Olivier, is completely won over as well. We both owe a debt of gratitude to the fabulous Katia for rocking our breakfast world.

Of course, this won’t prevent us from indulging in a little bacon and pancakes on the weekend, but we will stay young at heart with this new addition to our daily routine.


Makes approximately 7 portions.

    •  3 cups dried oats
    • 2 containers yogurt (250g – I prefer yogurt “brassé“, similar to Greek yogurt)
    • 2 apples, grated (I’ve been using Pink Ladies)
    • 1/2 cup orange juice
    • 2 small handfuls slivered almonds (about 1 cup ?)
    • a squeeze of lemon
    • 4-5 dried figs, stems removed & chopped


Instead of dried figs

    • Small handful of dried cranberries
    • Small handful of dried goji berries


Mix the lot together in a large bowl. Ration out into small terrine jars for the week or keep in Tupperware. Best if let to sit in the fridge at least an hour prior to eating if not overnight. Like Katia says

And the variations are endless! Give it a go and let me know what you put in yours…walnuts, raisins, dried apricot, prunes, hazelnuts, fromage blanc…?

Bon appétit !