BagelsinAugust

calm mornings

Jun
08

When I have the chance, I like to eat sit-down breakfasts. They’re not grand affairs, nor composed of contents from a box hurriedly dumped into a bowl and splashed with milk. I think of each breakfast as a calm beginning for whatever the day ahead will present. It is a ritual that makes me feel as if I have already accomplished one task from my list.

One of my favorite breakfasts is made with muesli. What is muesli? It is similar to granola, but made with raw rolled oats (granola is made with baked oats). Like granola, muesli usually contains dried fruits, nuts, or seeds. Unlike granola, there is no baking involved, or sitting by the stove the entire time making sure you don’t burn anything. Muesli is forgiving; all you have to do is shop for the ingredients, if you don’t already have them, and toss them together. The combinations are manifold, which gives my creativity plenty of exercise. What I enjoy most about muesli is that it comes together quickly, and lasts a while. I recently chose to make a batch of muesli with some of the ingredients I already had in my pantry, the jars that are almost-but-not-quite empty, taking up space with ten pieces of something inside.

Below, I offer some of my favorite muesli combinations with the fruit that is in season now. I promise that they do not take more than five minutes to prepare, from gathering the ingredients to arranging in a bowl. Muesli can be made to accommodate all allergy symptoms. Oats don’t sit well with you? Try adding puffed quinoa or toasted buckwheat instead. Dealing with picky eaters? Try adding some of their favorite dried fruits or nuts to the mix. If you don’t like yogurt, try kefir or your preferred type of milk or milk substitute instead. Most of all, spend a few minutes with yourself, not Buzzfeed or your phone.

 

Muesli Mix Ratio*
-40% rolled oats

-20% other grain (puffed rice)
-40% dried fruits and nuts (10% almonds, 10% dried blueberries, 10% dried raisins, 10% date pellets)
-a handful of seeds (sunflower)
-pinch of salt

*I use this ratio for all the muesli I make. In parentheses you will find the ingredients for the blueberry muesli I mention in the recipes below.

 

Strawberry and Banana Muesli with Hemp Seeds
strawberry and banana muesli Ingredients (measurements are suggestions, adjust to your liking):
-generous quarter cup of plain yogurt
-two heaping tablespoons of blueberry muesli
-half a banana, peeled & sliced
-six strawberries, washed and sliced
-one teaspoon hemp seeds (hemp seeds are full of easily digestible protein, various vitamins, iron…the list goes on)
-half a teaspoon of poppy seeds (not pictured)
-less than one tablespoon wildflower honey

To arrange: 
1) First place the yogurt in a bowl (mine is from Crate & Barrel), and top with the muesli. Continue layering with the fruit, and then seeds. Drizzle honey on top.

 

Mixed Cherries and Strawberry Muesli with Almonds
mixed cherries and strawberry muesli with almondsIngredients (measurements are suggestions, adjust to your liking):
-generous quarter cup of plain yogurt
-two heaping tablespoons of blueberry muesli
-dozen cherries, washed and pitted, then sliced in half
-eight strawberries, washed and sliced
-about 15 almonds (almonds are high in calcium and fiber) 
-less than one tablespoon of orange blossom honey

To arrange: 
1) First place the yogurt in a bowl, and top with the muesli. Continue layering with the fruit, and then almonds. Drizzle honey on top.

 

Orange-Banana-Cherry Muesli with Chia Seeds (aka sunshine on a cloudy day)Orange-Banana-Cherry Muesli with Chia Seeds (aka sunshine on a cloudy day)

Ingredients (measurements are suggestions, adjust to your liking):
-generous quarter cup of plain yogurt
-two heaping tablespoons of blueberry muesli
-half a banana, peeled and sliced
-half an orange, slices or supremes
-about two teaspoons of chia seeds (chia seeds are a good source of B vitamins, magnesium, and phosphorus)
-4 cherries, washed and pitted, then sliced
-half an apricot, sliced
-about 20 goji berries (goji berries are high in antioxidants) 
-7 pistachios, shelled
-a light drizzle of wildflower honey, optional 

To arrange: 
1) Place the yogurt in a bowl, spread on the bottom, and top with the muesli. Arrange the banana slices on the outer side, and the orange supremes on top of the muesli in a flower/clock/circular pattern. Sprinkle the chia seeds between the spaces of the orange supremes. Layer the sliced cherries in between the orange supremes, finishing with the apricot slices, goji berries, and pistachios. Drizzle lightly with honey on top. This is optional, as the bowl is already a sweet from all of the fruits.

 

Kiwi Muesli with Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote and Poppy Seeds
Kiwi Muesli with Rhubarb-Strawberry "Jam" and Poppy Seeds

Ingredients (measurements are suggestions, adjust to your liking):
-generous quarter cup of plain yogurt
-two heaping tablespoons of blueberry muesli
-one kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
-one tablespoon of rhubarb-strawberry “jam”, directions below
-about two teaspoons of poppy seeds

To arrange: 
1) Place the yogurt in a bowl, spread on the bottom, leaving some “gaps” for the muesli. Place the muesli in the “gaps”, and add the kiwi fruit around the edges. Place the rhubarb-strawberry jam on the yogurt, and top off with poppy seeds.

For the Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote: 
1) First things first, this is not a traditional jam, but a looser version. Now that this is out of the way, take one washed and dried medium sized rhubarb stalk, cut into two inch pieces, and 12 medium sized, halved strawberries, and toss in a bowl with juice from half a lemon, and two tablespoons of sugar. The sugar amount you use will be more or less depending on how tart your rhubarb is, or how sweet your strawberries are. Let the mixture sit until a good amount of juice has been extracted (15-30 minutes).
Note – I do not recommend honey, or other sweeteners, when making this mixture because both fruits are low in pectin, and too tart to use with citrus juices alone (the pectin in citrus would gel the mixture, but my results were too tart in previous trials). The sugar here acts as a binding/gelling agent, and honey/agave both proved to be too watery to use. The process took much longer, with diminished results. 
2) Then, place the contents of your bowl into a stainless steel or copper pot, and turn the heat on high. You want to keep the mixture from sticking, so stirring with a rubber spatula is important. As the mixture begins to boil (it will rise, bubble, and foam), reduce the heat to medium, and continue stirring.
Note – You can remove the top of the foam at this stage, or wait until the end. Removing the foam only produces a clearer set, so if this is not a problem, then move along swimmingly.
3) You want to make sure that the contents are breaking down, so if 5 minutes or so have passed and you still have large chunks of fruit, feel free to gently mash them with your spatula against the sides of the pot (not the bottom, because they may stick due to the pressure you are applying). The consistency will become a little thicker, and the bubbles will appear smaller in size. Keep stirring.

4) The desired consistency is up to you, but I measure mine by the drips falling from the spatula when I hold it up straight (horizontal) over the pot. If the drips are very rapid, that means it needs a little more time to thicken. When the drips take a second or two to come down, almost like they want to fall but have to think about it, then I turn off the heat. (And sometimes, when I haven’t been paying attention, and the drips almost seem to unite to form one larger drop, then it is closer to traditional jam (ie thicker) than I want it. You can add some water or juice to loosen a thick set jam, and boil a minute or so more.)
5) I pour the hot compote into clean jars, immediately after turning the heat off, seal and turn the jars upside down until cool, and then refrigerate. These jars sometimes seal, sometimes they do not, which is why I put them in the fridge, and eat the contents in about a week. If you would like to process this mixture, make sure to follow the USDA recommended canning instructions.

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