Winter, post holidays, takes a little easing into for me. Some people charge ahead into January with purpose and gusto, relieved to put December behind them and start a new year. But not I. January is like a cold morning to me – the type that you hide under the covers from, holding on to the warm sensations of a receding dream and praying that your alarm clock won’t go off anytime soon. January is the mess I’d been stuffing into the closet while December poured me another glass of wine. January is a reality check – a back to business as usual month with a sober and stern disposition. I think it would carry a clipboard and look down at you over rimmed spectacles if it were a person.
But eventually, something clicks and the days start to take on a comforting rhythm. I get out of bed, I let things topple out of the closet and I start dealing with what needs being dealt with. It’s a good feeling when it happens, sort of wholesome and purifying in its execution. And while it isn’t exactly fun, there is something satisfying in the motions, something that makes me feel decent and good and dare I say just a touch proud of myself.
After I get over the sensation that I am being jipped when I no longer am able to eat things like stolen for breakfast, or when there isn’t cake served with every meal, I start to embrace this wholesome, pristine feeling. I get back into my old routines and remember their sensibility, remember the sense of vibrancy and balance that comes from simplicity.
Muesli is one of these routines. It is a humble breakfast, nothing glamorous about it, nothing to catch one’s eye at first glance – but wholesome and satisfying, like January. You can eat it every day, and feel good about it, feel proud even. Sometimes I even have it as a snack. Of course, I can’t totally neglect my need for December’s sparkle, so I like to jazz it up with a touch of lavender – or sometimes a bit of rose petal, cardamom, vanilla bean or cocoa nibs depending on how the mood takes me. That little touch of floral seems to bring just the merest whisper of summer days to my mornings, and leaves me feeling a little sunnier.
Lavender Breakfast Muesli
Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce.
- 3 cups rolled oats (feel free to sub in other flaked grains as well such as barley, rye, wheat or even quinoa)
- 1 cup walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds (or a combination of all three)
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup dried cherries (or other dried fruits such as figs, cranberries or apricots)
- 1/4 cup oat bran
- 1/2 teaspoon lavender buds
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the oats on one baking tray and the walnuts on another, and place in the oven on a middle rack. Toast the walnuts for 12-15 minutes and the oats for 10, or until both are fragrant and crunchy. Place the oats into a large mixing bowl. When the walnuts are cool enough to handle, chop or break them into smaller pieces and add them to the oats.
While the oats and walnuts are toasting, place a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds to the pan and toast, stirring frequently, until they begin to pop and turn golden, fragrant and crunchy. Remove from heat and add to the bowl along with the oats and walnuts.
Add the dried fruits, the oat bran, the lavender buds and salt to the bowl and mix thoroughly to combine. Once cool, store in an airtight container in a dark, cool place.
How to eat your muesli:
- Eat topped with fresh fruit and doused liberally in a milk of your choice
- Serve over yogurt or over a warm fruit compote – or both! I like to make a parfait or serve fruit compote, yogurt and muesli side by side
- Soak overnight in the juice of 2 oranges and 1 lemon, and serve with yogurt for Bircher style Muesli – the traditional Swiss way