You may have heard that muesli is a great healthy breakfast, but do you know what it is and whether it's actually good for you? When it was first developed, muesli was typically a dry cereal made from toasted whole oats, nuts, fruit and wheat flakes. Now, you can find many versions, including gluten-free muesli, fresh muesli (soaked overnight in water or fruit juice to soften), toasted or untoasted muesli, and its close cousin: granola. Depending on how the muesli is made, it's often more natural and contains less calories and sugar than granola, which usually has more added syrup to aid in the toasting.
What are the nutritional benefits of muesli?
- Muesli typically has less sugar and calories than most breakfast cereals on supermarket shelves.
- It's high in fiber and whole grains, which regulate the digestive system, are filling and can aid in weight control.
- Muesli is a potent source of antioxidants.
- The addition of nuts provides a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids (especially walnuts).
- Milk or dairy alternatives that usually accompany muesli is a source of dairy and protein.
What makes muesli unhealthy?
Many people are shocked to discover that their "healthy" go-to breakfast is actually laden with extra sugar, unnecessary calories, carbs and fat – and rightly so when the packaging and slogans scream promises of greater health.
What should people be looking for in muesli for it to be considered healthy?
- Watch the serving size (should only be 1/3- 1/2 cup max)
- Aim for varieties containing under 20g of carbohydrates per serving
- <3g of saturated fat per 100g
- Low glycemic index
- Limited dry fruit (too high in sugar)
- A mixture of healthy fats
In my book, the only healthy muesli is homemade muesli! By making your own muesli, you'll be able to avoid dried fruit (high sugar) and the roasting process, which denatures fatty acids – plus you get to control all the lovely ingredients. Below is a recipe for a muesli I am particularly fond of.
Ingredients (Serves approximately 10):
- 1 cup oats (to make this gluten free, increase the almonds and coconut to 1 cup each)
- 1/2 cup of raw almonds (chop in a food processor)
- 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut?
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds?
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1/3 cup chia seeds
- 1/3 cup wheatgerm?
- 1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped?
- 4 tbsp linseeds
- 2 tsp cinnamon
Mix all ingredients in a bowl then add into a large glass jar to store.
OR, for something a little different:
Paleo Crunch (gluten/grain free)
- 2 cups of raw almonds
- 1/2 cup of raw, unsalted sunflower seeds (shelled)
- 1/2 cup of raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup of hazelnuts (or any other flavorful nut)
- 1/2 cup of chia seeds
- 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup of almond flour (if you’re patient, all it takes is almonds and a food processor… or you could buy a package in the gluten-free baking section of most markets)
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
- 1/4 cup of coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1/2 a cup of honey or agave nectar
Using a food processor or knife, chop almonds and hazelnuts to desired size.
Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Add coconut oil, honey and vanilla extract and stir until all ingredients are incorporated.
Spread the mixture on a large jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with a lip, and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Remove pan from the oven and stir ingredients carefully.
Return pan to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until ingredients begin to brown.
Let your paleo crunch cool before eating. As it sits, the crunch will get… crunchier. Store in an airtight container, or in single-serving (approximately 1 cup) bags.
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