When it’s cold outside, many of us like to start off the day with a warming and filling breakfast such as oatmeal. As the warmer temperatures hit, however, consistently eating a hot porridge isn’t always appealing. In the summer, I frequently reach for smoothies, green juices, or a cool elixir first thing in the morning as I rev up digestion for the day. There are also mornings when I just want something a little more filling and grounding. This is when I turn to gluten-free muesli.
What Is Muesli?
Muesli is a dry cereal mix made with grains, dried fruit, seeds and nuts. Traditionally, muesli is soaked in some kind of liquid like milk, yogurt or juice to soften everything and improve digestibility. But it can also be used dry as a topping.
The Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner developed muesli around 1900 for patients in his hospital, where – imagine this – a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables was an essential part of therapy. Bircher-Benner himself referred to the dish simply as “d’Spys” (Swiss German for “the dish”).
It wasn’t originally intended to be eaten as a breakfast cereal – apparently, it was meant to be an appetizer, a replacement for bread and butter. However, I can easily see, given the ingredient list, why it was eagerly adopted as a breakfast food.
Muesli as we know it rose in popularity in the 1960s along with hippies, health food and vegetarian diets.
Muesli, Granola and Overnight Oats: What’s the Difference?
Muesli is meant to be consumed soaked, cold and raw, is packed with fibre and typically contains little to no sugar (or far less sugar than most cereal brands). It can contain a range of different grains including oats, wheat, rye and barley, meaning it isn’t necessarily gluten-free.
Granola is baked and usually higher in sugar, with the sweetener often being used as a binder as well as the sugar content of the add-ins like dried fruit or chocolate chips.
You could say that muesli was the original overnight oats – as the same components in overnight oats are used in muesli.
Best Ingredients for Gluten-Free Muesli
Not all muesli is naturally gluten-free. To make gluten-free muesli, opt for:
- Gluten-free oats
- Quinoa flakes
These are optimal because they are small and tender, and will easily soften up after soaking.
Look for dried fruit to add to your muesli that doesn’t have added sugar, sulphites or other colouring agents, or added unhealthy oils. Some of my faves include:
- Goji berries
- Raisins (you can fight me on this)
- Dried Apples
For the soaking liquid, opt for:
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are essential for muesli as they provide protein, fat and fibre, as well as an array of nutrients depending on which nut/seed you choose. I like raw, untoasted and unsalted nuts (and I never use peanuts).
- Brazil nuts
- Hemp seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
If you are using chia seeds, they soak up a lot of liquid so ensure you add more.
Fresh fruit is my go-to, but for an extra-special treat try some coconut cream or coconut whipped cream.
Make Your gluten-free Muesli Grain-Free or Nut-Free
For a grain-free muesli option, use chopped nuts (the additional surface area will help them soak more quickly) or almond flour.
To create nut-free muesli, simply swap nuts for seeds.
Batch Prepping Gluten-Free Muesli
I love this recipe because you can batch prep the mixture and then scoop out what you need when you need it. If you eat gluten-free muesli sporadically, keep this in the fridge or freezer for optimal freshness.
Gluten-free muesli will need several hours of soaking time. The easiest thing is to make it the night before so it’s ready to go the next morning. Use a single serving mason jar with a lid so you can simply take on the go or add to a lunchbox.
You can make these a couple of days ahead of time – but I wouldn’t recommend having these sit in the fridge for more than 2–3 days.
Other Warm-Weather Breakfast Ideas
Other options aside from gluten-free muesli are:
- A breakfast salad
- Lightly steamed veggies with your protein of choice
- Chia pudding
- Breakfast parfaits
- Room temperature or cold fruit crumble
- Room temperature gluten-free veggie quiche
- Grain-free bread with nut butter or mashed avocado and sauerkraut
For anyone who claims not to have time for breakfast, I’ll throw this at them. Most of the work is done at night – and with merely a grate of apple and a sprinkle of cinnamon, you are ready to rock in the morning.Print