Whenever I hear someone say, “I don’t eat breakfast” or “Breakfast isn’t really my thing,” I think a small part of me dies inside. You see, I love breakfast. It is, without a doubt, my favorite meal of the day. I could eat breakfast foods at every meal and, save the occasional craving for sushi, I would be perfectly content.
This probably comes under the category of Too Much Information, but I often start thinking about breakfast before I even go to bed. Permission granted to think that I am super weird. But I can’t help myself. Oatmeal, yogurt, granola, toast: knowing I will consume some of my favorite foods in just a few hours is enough to make me giddy.
But it isn’t just the food that I love; it’s the ritual of breakfast and what that ritual represents. Breakfast heralds the start of a new day, with endless possibilities before you. The world is yours for the taking — at least in theory.
And these days, a ray of light first thing in the morning is most welcome. I basically spend my entire work day talking and writing and thinking about the financial crisis. Uplifting? Not so much. These days, when I wake up I’m greeted with news that (a) some major financial institution has failed, (b) Asian and European markets took a nosedive overnight, (c) the government is committing another XX billion dollars to get us out of this mess, or (d) all of the above. But at least with my breakfast bowl and a warm cup of coffee in front of me, there is something comforting and reassuring at the beginning of my day.
So in the spirit of all that breakfast represents, I am beginning what henceforth shall be call the “Breakfast Series.” Consider it my way of adding a little variety to your breakfast routine.
First up: a kickass muesli recipe. Saveur published a heavenly version of muesli in their recent “Breakfast Issue” (which I snapped up as soon as it came out, bien sur). But their recipe was a little rich, even for me. I’ve tweaked it a bit and posted that version here, but you can find the original on the Saveur web site.
Toothsome, filling and bursting with flavor, this muesli will keep you going until lunch time and will wrap its arm around your shoulder like an old friend as you scan through the day’s news. These days we need to take comfort where we can get it.
Very loosely adapted from Saveur, October 2008
A few notes. You should begin this recipe the night before, to allow the oats to soak. Yes, it’s fussier than just pouring milk over cereal, but if you prepare ahead, it takes very little time in the morning.
Also, the original recipe makes enough for 6-8 servings, but muesli doesn’t keep very well, and in my case, I’m usually making breakfast for one or two. So I’ve scaled down the proportions for two servings, but feel free to scale this one up or down. For reference, there are 4 tablespoons in a 1/4 cup and 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon.
One last thing: free to use different dried and fresh fruits of your choosing. Just don’t leave out the toasted coconut; in my opinion, that’s what makes the recipe.
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)
1/3 cup milk (low-fat or skim is fine)
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste*
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup raisins
1/8 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
1/8 cup toasted, unsweetened shredded coconut
4 teaspoons sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1 tablespoon wheat bran
2 teaspoons ground flaxseed meal
Pinch of kosher salt
3 heaping tablespoons yogurt
4 teaspoons honey
1/2 large apple, cored and grated
1/2 kiwi, peeled and roughly chopped
*Available at Trader Joe’s and specialty food stores. You can also use the seeds from 1/3 of a vanilla bean, or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Combine oats, milk and vanilla in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine the raisins and apple cider. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
In the bowl you plan to serve the muesli in or from, combine the chopped almonds, toasted coconut, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, wheat bran, flaxseed meal and salt. (You can do this the night before as well.)
In the morning, add the oat mixture and apple cider and raisins to the serving bowl with the coconut/almond mixture. Stir in the yogurt, honey, grated apple and kiwi. Stir well until combined. As you can see above, it won’t be the most photogenic breakfast, but it will be delicious!
Yield: 2 servings