I love fall. I love the bright red-orange leaves, the honey crisp apples, cider at the farmers market, pumpkins… all of it! It is hard for me to get through the fall months in the city without feeling the nostalgia for “the farm”, the place where we would spend all our major holidays and vacations as kids. I have this urge to watch my uncle press the cider, smell the leaves on the floor of the apple orchard and wear my rubber boots in the mud as I hike the property.
Making this salad will have to do for now, the taste can transport me back to the farm. This was often made in fall when there was an abundance of apples. I was first introduced to Birchermüesli by Grossmueti, my grandmother. It is now a family staple dish, served at any gathering or on a fall evening for a light dinner. This makes a great breakfast dish to accompany any brunch. Don’t be fooled by appearances though, at first glance it can be a bit different looking. The shredded apples mixed with oatmeal make a brownish colored base to the salad that can at first turn away 1st-timers.
But what it lacks in looks is sure beat by its’ appeal to healthy eaters. In my college German class I learned that a doctor (Dr. Bircher-Benner) from Switzerland was unhappy with the meat and potatoes staples of the Swiss diet. Too much cheese and chocolate called for a healthier salad, and this muesli was invented by him in hopes of converting the Swiss over to something a little lighter. My family tends to eat this more than the cheese-laden Spätzli and Fondue, which helps us all stay trim. So, indulge with the good apples, embrace the fall and enjoy!
- 8 fresh apples (crispier varieties tend to shred better)
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1 cup of quick oats
- 1 cup of hot milk, soy or almond milk
- 2 Tbs. honey or agave nectar
- 1 Tbs.ground flaxseed (not in the original Swiss recipe, but even healthier)
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- any seasonal fruit (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, oranges, peaches, blackberries)
Directions for Birchermüesli:
Pour the hot milk over the oats, mix and allow it to cool. Peel the apples and then shred them with a cheese grater into a bowl of lemon juice. Mix the shredded apples with the lemon juice to help them from turning too brown. (They will brown though, this just keeps them fresher). Mix in the oatmeal with the apples once it is cool and add the chopped nuts. Sweeten with honey and add the flaxseed. This is the BASE of the salad.
Now you can add any fruit to it. I like to use the frozen berries and add whatever else is in my fruit bowl. A trick I use with frozen blueberries is to add them to the hot oatmeal to help it cool faster and defrost the berries.
Each time it turns out differently, depending on the fruits that are in season. This salad serves about 6-7 people and will keep for a day in the refrigerator. Have fun trying to pronounce it too! (Beer-ker-muse-lee…with the German gutteral sound in the back of your throat).
Fruits to include: