Vegan bircher muesli with sultanas and coconut flakes
I'm going to start today's post by admitting an unfortunate truth about myself: I am not a morning person. I've never been one and I have a strong suspicion that I'll never become one (although that doesn't mean I'll stop trying any time soon)! But as it stands today, I am not really myself until I've had my first (large) cup of coffee. And the last thing I can be asked to do is to pack a lunch before heading out the door in the morning. Anyone else feel the same way about mornings, especially weekday mornings? That's what I thought.
If you are a colleague or a past classmate of mine, you'll know that I almost always bring a homemade breakfast and lunch with me to the office. There's nothing I hate more than relying on fast food options, for multiple reasons. Most people assume that I bring my own food to work in order to stick to a budget, but I actually only see that as an added (albeit awesome) bonus. Besides being budget-friendly, there are two main reasons I strongly believe bringing homemade meals to work is the way to go.
One big reason is the health benefits it brings. A lot of fast food options are marketed as being healthy, but unless you're the one doing the cooking it's difficult to control how much sugar or salt (or fat or energy or ... you get the picture...) is in that bowl of superfood lentil stew with mixed grains from the healthy fast food chain next door to the office.
The other main reason that I believe packing a lunch is important is because it helps reduce food and packaging waste. Up until a couple months ago I worked in Canary Wharf, one of London's main business districts, which is home to countless corporate office buildings. What shocked me most when I started working in the area was how many people buy breakfast and lunch from fast food chains, and how heavily packaged these products are. The sheer volume of waste, combined with the misconceptions surrounding what is and isn't recyclable (coffee cups are a great example), result in a huge amount of waste that is destined for landfill. I worked at an environmental consultancy for nearly a year for one of my CO-OP placements during my undgergrad, and one of the experiences from my time there that really stuck with me was doing groundwater sampling on a landfill site for a groundwater monitoring project. Up until that time I had never really seen a landfill, let alone walked around so close to one - and it just kind of clicked for me: sites like these are where our garbage goes. I try to keep that picture in my mind when making everyday consumer choices.
By now you must be wondering: how does this person who can't deal with mornings very well manage to consistently bring homemade meals to work? And it's a question that a lot of my friends and colleagues ask me. My secrets for success are that I stick to a weekly meal plan, do some meal prep on the weekend and pack lunches the night before, ready to grab from the fridge on the way out the door in the morning. It's as simple as that.
And that's where a recipe like this amazingly tasty and satisfying vegan bircher muesli comes in. In terms of make-ahead breakfasts, there's nothing more simple than bircher muesli, and the basic formula is dead easy: soak a combination of grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, spices and a touch of sweetener in milk overnight. And that's pretty much it! This bircher muesli with sultanas and coconut flakes is one I've been making very regularly over the past couple months, and Christian and I both love it. It's inspired by Gena Hamshaw's vegan bircher muesli recipe on Food52. I'll be starting a new job next week after a bit of time off work, and I think this muesli, and variations of it, will be very common around our place now that I'll be a bit busier!
Do you have favourite bircher muesli or make-ahead breakfast recipes? How do you feel about packing lunches for work? Are you interested in reading about more of my meal planning tips or hearing more about environmental issues relating to food? Let me know in the comments section!
Vegan bircher muesli with sultanas and coconut flakes
This bircher muesli, inspired by Gena Hamshaw's vegan bircher muesli recipe on Food52, is perfect for busy weekday breakfasts, and is one I've been making quite regularly recently. It's quick and easy to prepare, tastes fantastic and is very filling. It gets some crunch from the chopped almonds, lovely flavours from the spices and fresh ginger and just enough sweetness from the sultanas and pure maple syrup.
- 2 cups rolled oats (gluten free if needed)
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds
- 1/4 cup large flake coconut
- 1/3 cup sultanas or raisins
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 pinch vanilla powder (or a touch of vanilla extract)
- 1 tiny pinch pink Himalayan or sea salt
- 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups almond milk (depending on how milky you like it)
- 3 tbsp pure maple syrup or sweetener of choice
- Extra sweetener, coconut flakes and milk to serve
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and give everything a good mix using a wooden spoon. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge overnight (or for at least 8 hours). Alternatively, the mixture can be transferred to 4 containers or jars before placing it in the fridge, ready for the next morning. Serve with extra sweetener, coconut flakes or almond milk, if desired.
Serves 4 and keeps a few days in the fridge.