Beautiful Bircher Muesli

I've been putting off this post waayyy too long. How long, you ask? Sorry. No can tell.

Just take it as my Christmas gift to you! It's better than that, really. It's the most gorgeous, deliciously healthy, super simple and elegant breakfast that you could ever imagine. Going back to Christmas, happy holidays to all! I hope you've been spending the festive season laughing with loved ones and indulging on yummy (and nutritious!) food. 

Back to this Bircher muesli. This post is so aptly timed, to be honest. I just returned from a week-long getaway to Switzerland, the home of Bircher muesli! This muesli is so unpretentious and unassuming that you'll wonder how something that's seemingly so mainstream can be this good. It's overnight oats dressed up. It's creamy, chewy, sweet, nutty, fruity and just oh-so-perfect! Just remember one thing: it needs to be soaked the night before you want to eat it!

My version uses freshly grated apple, chopped dates, a homemade berry sauce and a light drizzle of honey for sweetness. None of those pre-packaged fruit yogurts that are often loaded with added sugars. Don't get me wrong - they're not bad, they're just not ideal. Whenever possible, use unsweetened yogurt and sweeten it yourself however you wish just so you can control how much extra sugar is going in to what you eat. 

The berry sauce truly is optional. If you get the chance, please do make it! It does take the muesli to a whole new level and looks so pretty as well! But of you're short on time, don't have berries, didn't plan ahead or simply can't be bothered, just don't make it.

Although I've specified a "berry" sauce, any fruit compote will be wonderful - think peaches, cherries, applesauce or even simple sliced bananas! My favorite nuts to use are either pecans or almonds, but once again, whatever tickles your fancy is the way to go! Same with apple - red, green, pink lady, granny smith - all work (my favorite is granny smith because of its sweet yet tartness).

Serves 2
6-8 heaped tbsp whole rolled oats
1/2 cup milk
pinch of freshly grated orange zest (lemon or grapefruit will do the trick too)
2 large dates, each chopped into 10-12 bite-sized chunks
1 tbsp honey
2/3 granny smith apple, grated coarsely
2 tbsp pecans (or nuts of choice), roasted and chopped
3-4 tbsp unsweetened greek yogurt
berry sauce (optional)

The night before, put the oats, milk, zest, dates and honey in a bowl. Stir gently and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, mix in the grated apple, nuts and greek yogurt. Split between two serving glasses/bowls and layer with the berry sauce. If you don't have taller serving glasses like I've shown, simply put it in in a bowl and pour over the berry sauce.

Ta-da! It's as simple as that. Enjoy!


Pear Spice Loaf with a Crunchy Oat Topping

Pears, spice and everything nice. My new winter motto? I think so!
This pear spice loaf exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. Let me be honest: I knew when I was pouring the batter into the loaf tin itself that it was going to be good. But did I know how good? Most definitely not!

Rustic and nutty from the whole wheat flour. Winter-y and warming from the cinnamon and nutmeg. Subtle sunny undertones from the coconut oil. Gooey sweetness from ripe pear chunks. Crunchy sugary goodness from the oat topping.

I'm going to keep this post short and sweet, because you should stop staring at your screen and start baking (and subsequently eating!) this amazing, super delicious, wholesome, healthy, yummy (do you get the gist yet?) loaf cake!
For loaf:
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 ripe but still firm pears*, chopped into chunks (size is up to you!)
1/3 cup coconut oil, softened
2/3 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
*Feel free to peel the pears if you wish, but I didn't!

For the (not-so) optional crunchy oat topping:
1/3 cup whole rolled oats
3 tsp raw sugar
1 tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 175 C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Toss in chopped pear until each pear chunks is fully coated in flour mixture. If you feel that your pear is slightly soft and might mash easily, don't mix the fruit into the flour yet.

Mix maple syrup and Greek yoghurt in a small bowl until combined.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat coconut oil and sugar. Add in the vanilla and eggs and beat until just combined. Finally, add in the milk, and once again, beat until just combined.

Using a large spoon to fold the ingredients together, add egg mixture and Greek yoghurt/maple syrup mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Don't over mix! If at this point, you haven't yet added the pear, now is the time to do so - simply stir the pear chunks into the batter.

Pour/spoon into prepared tin and gently smooth the top.

Stir together the ingredients for the oat topping and sprinkle the mixture on top of the batter.

Bake for 50 minutes or a toothpick inserted comes out clean and top is slightly crisp and a light golden brown.

Cool in tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.



Banana Maple Pecan Coconut Muffins

Soo... I guess I sort of just disappeared into the blue. No explanation. No reason. Just *poof*! In all seriousness, I just went and came back from the first term of my second year at university. I had planned to actually post another recipe (or two!) before I left, but things, as usual, got busy and it just never ended up happening. The two recipes I was going to post include a gorgeous bircher muesli and THE BEST CAKE I have ever eaten (chocolate fudge cake with espresso buttercream and rich chocolate ganache!). I hope to post these in the near future, but now it's back to the present.

This term just went by so quickly. I have no idea where or how the time flew by. I'm not complaining, though! It means I'm having a blast at university and also means I'm already back home! On another note - this year, unlike last, my accommodation is equipped with a great kitchen! Cooking meals for a single person, however, is much less exciting and much more difficult that I'd have thought. It requires thinking of recipes that can work for one, or making something in large batches that can be used for the week, to planning grocery shopping for at least a few days. I made things ranging from pastas (whole wheat!), to stir fries, to fried rice, to single-serve lasagna and even (my attempt at) daal! Cooking with friends ended up happening once or twice a week and that was simply a blast!

What I didn't unfortunately get around to much was baking. I did bake once or twice for parties and events, but never really for myself. This lack of baking meant that my baking impulses were so strong that I baked an hour after arriving home yesterday.

And that's how these banana maple pecan coconut muffins were born! I had initially thought of making something with apple in it, as we always always always have apples at home so I knew I didn't have to worry about the ingredients. But when I looked around my kitchen, I spotted three overly spotty, slightly overripe bananas. And that's when apples became bananas. But banana bread seemed too mainstream. What else could combine well with banana? And then it hit me - maple and pecan! I wanted to jazz it up even more so I added coconut as well! My sister, as you'll definitely know if you've read some of my other posts, does not appreciate nuts in her baked goods. That's why you'll see some muffins with chocolate chips in the pictures. If you fancy, you can do the same by simply replacing the chopped pecans with the same amount of dark chocolate chips. Or heck, why not just add both?!

No surprise here, but these are delicious, healthy and hearty! Infused with cinnamon and coconut, moistened with banana, coconut oil, almond flour and textured with baby oats - perfection. Grab a mug of tea, coffee or hot chocolate and one of these muffins fresh out of the oven - pure bliss.

Makes 9 large muffins
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup baby oats
1/4 cup raw sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 cup whole milk
3 small ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup dessicated coconut
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
coconut flakes, for decorating

Preheat oven to 175 C. Line a muffin tin with 9 cupcake liners and set aside.

Mix together the dry ingredients (except coconut chips!). Mix together the wet ingredients in a separate, larger bowl.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

Fill the cupcake liners almost to the top. Decorate with coconut chips and additional chopped pecans or chocolate chips, if desired.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.