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Bircher Muesli

I just got back from a trip to Australia, where two dear friends exchanged some of the most heartfelt vows I’ve ever heard on a steep cliff overlooking Sydney’s sparkling harbor.  It was a spectacular ceremony, and it’s always exciting as a friend to sense a couple’s palpable anticipation of the joy a lifetime of togetherness will bring.  But, I think weddings are and should stay very private, so this post isn’t about my friends’ marital bliss…

It’s actually much more basic.  It’s about a love affair I had in Sydney with bircher muesli.  Sydney is hot and humid this time of year and full of beautiful people walking, running, boxing, training in parks, swimming in oceanside pools, surfing, relaxing in the sunshine on the city’s many spectacular beaches, and eating “real food.”  It makes Australia feel like the land of the healthy (and according to the Gates’ Foundation’s 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, it is, sitting comfortably in the top 10 for life expectancies for both men (#6) and women (#9)).

Good food feels like a daily requirement in Sydney, which makes the appearance of bircher muesli unsurprising, but delightful nonetheless.  Some American friends of ours living on one of Paddington’s Victorian-lined streets served it alongside eggs and (yes) kangaroo at a delicious brunch, and I couldn’t get enough of it.  I liked it so much that I ordered it the very next day at the famous Bill’s restaurant.  Bircher muesli was created at the turn of the 20th century by a Swiss physician named Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner, an early raw food advocate.  And Bill’s has perfected a simple version of it we can all make at home.  Here it is (at home, I think I’ll add some nuts to the recipe as well):

Bircher Muesli with Stone Fruit (Source: Bill Granger)

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup coarsely grated apple
  • 1/2 cup natural yogurt
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup sliced peaches & nectarines
  • 1/4 cup mixed berries
  • 2 Tbsp honey

Directions: Place oats and apple juice in a bowl and soak for 1 hour, or overnight. Add grated apple, yogurt, and lemon juice to oat mixture and mix well. Spoon into serving bowls and top with fruit. Drizzle with honey.

This will now be one of my weekend brunch staples, which will be extra yummy because I think I’ll always associate it dear friends and sun-kissed Sydney.  What healthy foods have you discovered while traveling?  Have you managed to bring them home as a way to savor the taste and the memories?

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