Happy Birthday Dr Bircher… and thank you for breakfast!
What’s the best breakfast to eat before you go skiing?… indeed possibly the most nutritious breakfast in the world?
The Swiss will unanimously answer “Bircher Muësli”…. and more and more people around the world are beginning to agree with them.
This naturally sweet cereal dish was created by a Swiss doctor, Dr Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner (1867-1939) – one of the earliest promoters of raw food diets – in the 1890s for the patients in his special spa-clinic in Zurich, which he called the Sanatorium Lebendige Kraft (Vital Force Sanatorium).
At the clinic, Dr Bircher-Benner avoided prescribing drugs wherever possible, devising instead special dietary programmes for his patients. Every meal would start with a small dish of his muesli (also called at the time Birchermüesli), which was essentially grated whole apple with a very small amount of nuts, milk and oats. People who followed his beliefs strictly were called “Miislis.” After their Bircher muesli starter, they would eat a main course of raw vegetables followed by a small cooked dish (usually vegetarian) and then a dessert.
Before long, it had caught on throughout Switzerland as a nourishing meal and the perfect way to start the day. It also became a popular supper dish.
A typical ‘Bircher’ nowadays combines fruits, nuts and oats to delicious yet virtuous effect – a special muesli mix, with a dollop of creamy plain yoghurt stirred in. If you’ve never eaten one, this gooey fresh muesli dish will be a revelation to you – it really bears no resemblance to the dry muesli that comes in a box.
Not only is it ideal before skiing, it’s a perfect breakfast year-round – a delicious alternative to porridge in mid-winter, yet equally tasty and nourishing on a summer’s morning. And you can balance the oat vs fruit content to suit.
It’s certainly a winner with our children. In fact, it’s so good, the Swiss still sometimes eat it for their lunch or supper as well as for breakfast!