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Monday, August 9, 2010

Bircher Muesli and Muesli Cookies

If you are looking for ways to increase your daily dietary fibre intake and reduce your cholesterol reabsorption, oats are a fantastic addition to your diet.  A daily serve of whole oats can also assist in reducing hypertension (high blood pressure).  So why don't we eat more?

You don't have to just eat porridge to get the full benefits of oats - there is another option - one that you can make ahead and have ready in the fridge every day - and that is bircher muesli.  I make up a batch every week, and it will last me the whole week.  By making my own bircher muesli I know exactly what is in there - there are no added fats or sugars, and I can change the flavours to whatever I desire simply by changing the fruit that I add.  So here is my recipe for a healthy filling breakfast.

Bircher Muesli

Makes 7-8 servings

1 cup whole oats
1 cup oat bran 
1 cup muesli (any variety as long as it is not toasted) Lowan brand is good
2 cups water
200g plain yoghurt (vanilla is nice)
200g - or 2 pieces of fruit of your choice

Place the oats, oat bran, and muesli in a bowl.

Stir to combine all the components.  Add 1 cup of hot tap water, and 1 cup of boiling water.  Stand for 15-20 minutes.

After this time add the fruit.  If you are adding say grated apple or pear you might like to add approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to prevent the fruit from going brown.  I like to add frozen mixed berries (by doing this you are also boosting up your antioxidant levels!!!)  Also add approximately 200g of yoghurt.  Mix well.  Leave several hours, or overnight for the flavours to develop and the oats to soften.

This is your base that you start with every morning.  To serve it simply add another big dollop of yoghurt on top, mix through and enjoy!

So who knew you could do so much with one small bowl of muesli each day!!!

For those of you that say they don't have time for a healthy breakfast each morning - I say now you do!! There are additional health benefits in having the yoghurt each day as well - the yoghurt helps increase the healthy bacteria levels within your gut flora, which is beneficial in preventing the growth of harmful bacteria,  it also assists in the synthesis of vitamins such as vitamin K and biotin (a water soluble B complex vitamin - B7), a necessary vitamin used in the metabolism of fatty acids.

The variation are limitless with this breakfast - change the fruit that you add, change the flavour of the yoghurt.  Find a flavour that you like and stick to it.  It may take you a little while to find the combination that you love.  As I said I like french vanilla yoghurt with mixed berries - but pear is great, apple and dates, apricot and apple - the list goes on!

Now while we are talking about the humble oat here is a recipe for cookies that uses whole oats, and also uses olive oil instead of butter or margarine.  Now changing one fat for another doesn't necessarily reduce the calorie content a huge amount - but it does reduce the amount of saturated fat and replaces it with a monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats have been shown to help lower the levels of LDL (low-density lipoproteins, the bad fats) in blood serum cholesterol without decreasing the levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs, the good fats).  Who can think of a better reason to ditch the butter?

Muesli Cookies

Makes approx. 24

1/2 cup extra virgin light olive oil
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup self raising flour
3/4 cup fried mixed fruit
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Line baking trays with baking paper.

Place oil, sugar, egg and vanilla in a bowl.  Whisk until smooth and combined.  Stir in the oats, flour, dried fruit and cranberries.

Roll tablespoon amounts of the mixture into a ball.  Place on the prepared tray.  Flatten slightly.  Repeat with the remaining mixture.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until golden.

Stand on trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Now there is a treat you can feel a little bit better about giving the kids when they come in from school!!

Now just a note - to get even more health benefits make sure that you buy whole oats - not the ones that have been ground slightly - they oxidise and go rancid more quickly once they have been ground!!!

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