Shaken and not stirred

It took an early summer of unbending heat and some very persuasive food writers to turn me into a believer.   Highly unlikely, since I am such a lover of creamy cooked oats and grains, a crunchy, chewy uncooked muesli just seemed wrong.

I have been reading Grain Power, an informative cookbook on ancient grains and seeds by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming, a boon to those looking for gluten-free alternatives. The two sisters simplify and demystify the care and handling of popular varieties like quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, oats, spelt, faro, teff, and chia.  They provide plenty of current information on these grains and seeds and do a nice job of explaining each one’s unique attributes and follow up with plenty of imaginative recipes―from raw to cooked.

Their Mason Jar Ancient Grain Breakfast really caught my attention because it is quite similar to my own cooked version discussed here.  Essentially, you put a combination of your favorite grains in a mason jar (for 2 servings I used about 6 tablespoons), add a few raisins, a teaspoonful of chia seeds if available, a pinch of cinnamon, and measure in twice as much water as grains.  You shake that up, let it rest about 20 minutes, shake it again, and refrigerate it for 7 hours or longer.  The up-shot: NO COOKING, an attractive solution during our days of record-breaking heat.

Morning Muesli
Muesli AM

I gave the mason jar approach a try last night.  Early this morning I took a peak and was not happy with the results.There was a lot of water floating on the top and the mixture was still very crunchy.  I theorized that the steel-cut oats, buckwheat groats, and millet, were all slow to absorb water.  Did I forget the bulgur wheat?  Who knows, I didn’t see any…  and that would certainly help the situation.  Biggest issue for me: there were no rolled oats.  I added a couple of tablespoonfuls and within a couple of hours, things were looking better.

Meanwhile, I went online and pulled up Felicty Cloake’s fascinating Guardian article on muesli.  She revisits Maximilian Bircher-Benner, the Swiss doctor and nutritionist who started it all at his sanatorium.   Felicity points out his belief in the natural approach to food, especially the healing qualities of fruits and vegetables.  His ideal breakfast would feature plenty of fruit, grated apple was a favorite, plus the addition of a small handful of oats soaked overnight.

Of course, times have changed.   Since then, the trend to reduce the soaking time has caught on and the amount of grains to fruit has increased.  Felicity maintains assorted grains are fine, but oats should remain the standard base.   At this point, I couldn’t agree more.

muesli and apple
Morning Muesli

For my test breakfast this morning I ladled half of my amended blend into a bowl, still a bit watery, but acceptable. I swirled in a few spoonfuls of yogurt, topped it with part of a grated Granny Smith apple, a few blueberries, and swirled a little agave syrup over the whole thing.  It was so good it didn’t even make it to the table!muesli with spoon

With thanks to Patricia and Carolyn’s Grain Power and Felicity Cloake, here is my revised version, which is all about using what’s on hand.   For now, that will include rolled oats… shaken, and not stirred in the pot.

Overnight Muesli in a Mason Jar

Inspired by Grain Power by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming;  Felicity Cloake, How to make the perfect bircher muesli, at the Guardian

2 Tbsp rolled oats
2 Tbsp steel cut oats
1 Tbsp buckwheat groats
1 Tbsp millet
1 Tbsp bulgur wheat
1 Tbsp quinoa, rinsed
1 tsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp raisins
Pinch cinnamon
1 cup boiling water or juice
To Finish
2 Tbsp yogurt or milk
2Tbsp fresh fruit or nuts:  grated apple, blueberries, raspberries, etc
Sweetener to taste:  honey, agave etc.


  1. In a mason jar measure grains of choice equaling about 8 tbsp.
  2. Add raisins or other dried fruit, chia seeds (optional), cinnamon and pour boiling water over all. Seal the top with lid and shake well.  Let stand 15 to 20 minutes and shake again.  Store in refrigerator overnight, or for about 8 hours or longer.
  3. Spoon from jar into bowl or reheat if desired. Add topping of choice and serve:  Yield 2 servings.

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