Muesli — The healthiest stuff I’ve ever eaten
Truth time here.
If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you know that I’ve lost more than 50 pounds during the pandemic—don’t hate me, please. But I could never have done it alone. I had an enormous boost from my beloved, who poked, prodded, encouraged, excoriated, and refused to buy me the ice cream I so desperately craved—still crave. But she also fed me well.
Somewhere about 20 pounds in she decided that she had to come along for the ride, but in her ever-Ellen fashion, she came at it both 745%, and with more research than a barrel of dieticians. She got herself a personal trainer/slavemaster who also, serendipitously, is a nutritionist/body-builder/…I hate her (and I love her)—let’s call her…Sally (that’s her real name, and if I call her anything else she’ll likely make me eat healthy or something).
So, Sally got us into this “clean-eating” thing. Eliminate white foods—breads of all kinds, sugar, high-fat dairy; you know; the stuff we all know and love.
And, real food—fresh vegetables, skinless chicken—broccoli, for God’s sake! And lots of it. Lots of protein. All the time—we have to eat some protein every time we put something in our mouths. And smaller meals more often. Actually, the plan is breakfast, lunch, dinner, and small protein snacks at 10:00 am, 3:00 pm, and just before bedtime. And by golly, it worked!
She made me reduce my intake of breakfast cereals—I should have just offed her right there. I just take some bran flakes with protein powder a couple of days a week and my new favorite breakfast food, which I make myself.
Muesli. That’s right, the legendary “nuts and twigs” plan.
But I’ve learned that that stuff—normally found in the “nuts and twigs” (read: health-food) store—can be really expensive. I think gasoline is cheaper—it certainly is, by the gallon (go ahead, do the math). So I decided to make my own. Hello Pinterest!
There are five-hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes in a year (thanks, Rent), and just as many muesli recipes on Pinterest. And I think I may have read them all. No, really!
And then, armed with more knowledge about muesli than that which a human being ought to be armed, I ventured forward and tried several, and tried abstracting several of them into a reasonably good product, one that I could make quickly, easily, and with readily available (already in my pantry) ingredients.
I finally settled on one recipe—the proof of the recipe is in the fact. That my beloved will actually take a handful from the jar and eat it like a small snack—it even has a pretty healthy dose of protein.
So, the moral of the story is…there really isn’t any moral of this story, I’m just rambling and free associating, and filling space—because that is what all the Internet recipe writers seem to do—and aren’t you sick of that? I promise that from here on in I’ll keep my blab down to about 600 words—that’s what the LNP people I used to write for made me do, and I guess that after this finely crafted example of bloated writing, it was probably a good idea.
So…Cheffzilla’s muesli… (Makes about 2 1/2 quarts)
3 cups rolled oats (regular oats—steel-cut oats won’t work here)
1/2 cup sliced (or slivered) almonds
1/2 cup walnuts, medium chop—somewhere between course and fine, you figure it out.
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds, your choice—I like the pumpkin seeds better)
1/4 cup flax seeds or chia seeds—again, your choice
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped to the same size as the cranberries
1-3 teaspoons fine ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Spread the oats on a sheet pan and shake the pan until they are evenly spread over the whole pan. Repeat with the almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds, using a second sheet pan. Place the pans on two racks in the preheated oven (NOT ON THE BOTTOM RUNG OF THE OVEN—it gets too hot down there. Set a kitchen timer for 7 minutes.
3. After seven minutes, take the pans out of the oven, stir the product around on the pans (I toss them in a large bowl to mix them up) and return them to the pans, switching the pans top and bottom shelfs. Check after six minutes to ensure they are not burning. If they haven’t begun to brown slightly, give them another minute or two, rotating up and down again. They are done when they just begin to brown, especially. The oats. They’re not done until the oats begin to brown. If the nuts are done before the oats begin to toast, remove them from the oven and let them cool. When finished toasting, allow both the nuts and the oats to cool completely to room temperature.
4. While the oats and nuts are toasting, place the cranberries and chopped apricots in a bowl, add a teaspoon of cinnamon, and toss to coat the fruit. If they still stick together, add another teaspoon and toss some more. Ultimately, you want to add just enough cinnamon to keep all the fruit pieces separate, but no more—well maybe just a little bit more–but not very much.
5. Dump the cinnamon-dusted fruit into a very large bowl, add the flax or chia seeds, the nuts, and the oats, and mix thoroughly. Then mix again. And again, to make sure all the ingredients are fully mixed up. Funnel the muesli into quart-sized mason jars right to the lip, tap the jars on the counter and add more if necessary, to the top of the jar—the less air in the jar the longer the muesli will last.
And then, well, #NutsAndTwigs!