The Better Breakfast Cereal: Bircher Muesli

My mom, like many moms, went through a lot of health-food phases, and one that I liked was her Bircher Muesli phase. It was basically this bagged, untoasted cereal blend full of oats, nuts, and some dried fruit, and she would soak it overnight in milk and yogurt. It had an awesome creamy, thick, kind of … for lack of a better word … slimy (did I really just use “slimy” as a positive adjective?!) texture to it, and I loved it. But that phase eventually ended, and I kind of forgot about it. Until about a year or two ago, actually. I had just come across the word “phytic acid” and started my own mom-health-food phase where my nutrition world was thrown upside down, I panicked, rampaged through my pantry and fridge and threw stuff away, cried to my husband that I was slowly killing our children, and curled up in the fetal position in the middle of my kitchen. 


So what in the world is this phytic acid that would evoke such a partially fictious, dramatic response? Short answer, it’s “an indigestible, organic form of phosphorus that is found in grains and oil seeds“. Not only is phytic acid indigestible, it prevents the absorption of other nutrients. And it’s in all of your favorite whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans. But it’s ok, you don’t have to go curl up into the fetal position and cry and whatever else you are so tempted to leave your computer to do, because:

  1. phytic acid is *mostly* removeable, and
  2. I have a first-baby-step solution for you! And it goes back to my mom and her Bircher Muesli. 

First thing you should know, not all Muesli are created equal. It’s evolved into two styles: your standard breakfast cereal, served dry with some milk or yogurt (think of it as a raw granola, or sorts) and the original recipe developed by Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner, which is a soaked cereal. One thing to note is that his portion size was very little soaked muesli to a LOT of fruit. And I recommend eating it that way. When grocery shopping, focus on fresh, in-season fruit to top this super filling breakfast.

Now here’s the important part: proper soaking removes phytic acid. Unfortunately not all, but a lot. There are different ways to remove phytic acid from a grain, seed, nut, or legume, but the most effective methods vary, and some are complex. The simplest method is soaking overnight (or even up to 24 hours) in an acidic medium. The ratio is about 1 cup water to 2 tablespoons acid. Freshly squeezed lemon or lime are ideal. Calcium-rich acids (such as yogurt, whey, kefir) actually inhibit the break down of phytic acid, so don’t use them to soak, but you can definitely add them later when you’re ready to eat.


I like to add chia seeds to my Bircher Muesli to bump up the nutritional content, and an added bonus, chia seeds give it a pudding-like texture that I find really pleasant. The interesting thing about chia seeds is that when introduced to a liquid, they create a gel around themselves. This special trait aids in digestion, (and sorry for the gross image) working like a squeegee on your insides. Now you’d think that all of this sounds too health-freaky and frankly, the sliminess you’re imagining is probably grossing you out. But you’d be surprised at the non-sliminess. Think more “jell-o” and less snot. They are a super seed, packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese, helps control cholesterol and regulates blood sugar. Ounce for ounce, they’re one of the highest sources of omega-3’s you can find. All in these teeny tiny seeds that we used to use to grow green hair on terra cotta animals back in the 90’s. (did you do that? Am I the only kid that wanted a chia pet?)

Regardless of your 90’s obsession, go soak yourself some Bircher Muesli and you’ll thank yourself.

Bircher Muesli
Serves 4
A cold, soaked breakfast cereal that not only tastes good, but is good for you
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341 calories
21 g
82 g
27 g
6 g
14 g
225 g
29 g
1 g
0 g
12 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 341
Calories from Fat 236
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 27g
Saturated Fat 14g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 82mg
Sodium 29mg
Total Carbohydrates 21g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 1g
Protein 6g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
for the Bircher Muesli
  1. 1 cup rolled oats
  2. 1/4 cup chia seeds
  3. 1/4 other nuts and seeds (such as sunflower seeds, chopped almonds, walnuts, etc) optional
  4. 2 cups filtered water
  5. 1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
For serving
  1. diced fruit (such as apples, pineapple, mango, any stone fruit, etc)
  2. heavy cream, milk, or coconut milk, optional
  3. sweetener of choice (pure maple syrup, raw honey, and coconut palm sugar are my favorites)
  1. Combine oats, chia seeds, other nuts and seeds if using, water, and lemon or lime juice in a lidded container and stir to combine. Let sit overnight, preferably at least 8 hours, in the refrigerator.
  2. In the morning, Divide among bowls and serve with toppings of choice.
  1. Though oats are naturally gluten-free, harvesting and processing can lead to cross-contamination with gluten, so make sure to buy certified gluten free oats if serving someone with a gluten sensitivity.
Adapted from Lillian Wilkins
Adapted from Lillian Wilkins
Scratch Eats
 Have a glorious start to your day!

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breakfast | September 21, 2015 | By


  1. Leave a Reply

    September 21, 2015

    I am excited to make this! I have always been a little intimidated by the idea of soaking grains yet after reading this I realize how super easy it is and with this easy/nutritious recipe I can combine ingredients at night and it will be ready for the morning rush. Thanks for sharing!

    • Leave a Reply

      September 21, 2015

      So excited for you to try it, Natalee! Let me know how it goes!

  2. Leave a Reply

    Celeste peterson
    September 21, 2015

    To think i could actually eat healthier and heartier than toast or honey nut cheerios in the morning with things i already have on hand–love this!! I have to make this.

    • Leave a Reply

      September 21, 2015

      Yay! I want to know how it goes, so keep me posted. This is a really nice recipe because it’s super versatile. I really hope you like it.

  3. Leave a Reply

    September 22, 2015

    I woke up this morning thinking about Bircher Muesli so I was excited to see this! I’m so glad I kept one of those big barrels of organic oats for myself when I moved ;). I think the kids will love this, especially if I tell them it’s your recipe. “Lillian Food” has a place of honor at our house. They know it’s bound to be delicious and always healthy. I’m putting this on the table tomorrow morning with fresh peaches and huckleberries and raw honey to drizzle on top. Thank you for helping me out of my latest breakfast rut!

    • Leave a Reply

      September 22, 2015

      Oh my heavens, Laura, that sounds divine! please send me a photo.

  4. Leave a Reply

    September 22, 2015

    So glad to find your website! Do you know if this would work with Irish oats?

    • Leave a Reply

      September 22, 2015

      Tanya, I often add some steel cut oats into the mix before I soak overnight. I really like the chewy texture it adds. I wouldn’t do it with 100% steel cut, though. I would imagine it would be a little bit too coarse. Tell me how it works out for you when you try! Thanks for visiting!

  5. Leave a Reply

    Shelly O
    October 12, 2015

    Do you ever use steel cut oats? I have a ton of them.

    • Leave a Reply

      October 18, 2015

      Shelly, I often mix steel cut and rolled oats, it gives it a nice chewy texture. But I don’t think 100% steel cut would work very well. Too coarse. But, who knows, you might love it. If you try it let me know:)

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