Photo: MariaKovaleva (Shutterstock)
Overnight oats are one of the great classic breakfast hacks. You probably already know this. You can make them with almond milk or real milk, with yogurt or without, with raisins and nuts or with pumpkin puree and chia seeds. But I need to ask you: have you ever considered grating a whole apple in there?
You heard me right, grating. I’m not talking about chopped, cooked apples (although those are great too). I mean a fresh apple rendered into shreds immediately before being mixed into the milk and oats. It’s a fantastic way to get an extra serving of fruit into your day, and the texture melds perfectly with the softness and sweetness of cold oats.
I didn’t discover this on my own; I got the idea from somebody else, who got it from long-dead Swiss physician and raw foods enthusiast Maximilian Bircher-Benner. He ran a sanatorium, and published a recipe for the standard breakfast there: a fruit porridge that became known as “Bircher muesli.” (He doesn’t claim to have invented the recipe either, but says it was served to him during a hike in the Alps.)
The original recipe called for each serving to contain two to three apples, grated whole (core and all), mixed with a few tablespoons of soaked oats, sweetened condensed milk, nuts of your choice, and lemon juice. It wasn’t oatmeal—more like apple-meal.
These days if you google “Bircher muesli,” you’ll find all sorts of recipes that combine grated apple with the things we more traditionally think of as muesli or overnight oats. A pear works as well as an apple, by the way, and the recipe is great for using up apples that are still edible but have gone a bit too soft for eating out of hand.
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How to make Bircher muesli-style overnight oats
Here’s how I make mine:
- Half an apple or pear, grated (I leave the skin on, but I stop grating when I hit the core.)
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup milk or plant milk of your choice
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup dried fruits of your choice (I use apricots and candied ginger when I’m feeling fancy, raisins otherwise)
- a squeeze of honey
- a generous sprinkling of nuts (sliced almonds or chopped walnuts are my faves)
Combine all the ingredients in a 16-ounce mason jar or plastic soup container, and allow to sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, or ideally overnight. Because the recipe uses half an apple, I usually make a double batch. Feel free to play with the ingredients and proportions to taste.
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