Friday, January 30, 2009

Oatmeal. Really?

My insurance agent, Donna Speight, has been a part of my extended acquaintances for over 30 years. I had always enjoyed my relationship with Donna for many reasons, including that we were the same age, loved dogs, and loved the outdoors - and she has insured my home and my cars and my kids cars and my new home and my life for all these many years.

In the middle of December I learned from a colleague that Donna had passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack. I was shocked, saddened, and stunned.

This got me thinking hard about how heart disease is the number one cause of death for women in North America. And how early last year my doctor had told me that my cholesterol was up - and that higher cholesterol was a warning sign for heart disease.

So I quick made an appointment to have my cholesterol checked again, and sure enough, it was TOO HIGH. High enough that the doctor said I might want to consider mediation.

Now, I am not so good with taking pills. I always forget about them. I haven't had to take medication daily in, oh, forever - and I really don't want to start until I have no alternative. So I asked her to give me 6 months with diet (and yes, exercise) to get the cholesterol down.

I came home and did some reading, and learned (as you probably already know), that OATMEAL was an almost miracle food as far as cholesterol was concerned. Well, of course, I hate oatmeal. Can you believe it? Just don't like the texture. Don't even like the taste. Yuk.

Not to be deterred for long, I set off on a quest to find a way to have my oatmeal and like it too.

I remembered something from a cruise we went on years ago - Bircher Muesli. I loved it. It was cool, and yummy, and fruity, and even crunchy. And made with oatmeal. I started doing research on the web, and learned that the basic recipe was developed by Dr. Maximilian Brenner-Bircher at his diet clinic/sanatorium somewhere in Switzerland in 1887, and named 'Bircher Muesli' in 1924. I found lots of recipes on the internet (including ones with all sorts of sugary additions which I imagine Dr. Bircher would never have approved of), though the original recipe involved just a tablespoon of oats and a grated apple.

After reading many of them, I made up my own. :)

This is such a fabulous breakfast I can’t believe it took me so long to find it. It is absolutely delicious and keeps me satisfied all morning long, while the oats work away to reduce my cholesterol. I make up the basic recipe in the evening and put it in the fridge. This recipe provides me with about three mornings of bowls of muesli, which I embellish as you can see below.

Basic Recipe - Bircher Muesli
1 cup oats
1 cup vanilla low fat yogurt
1 cup skim milk
2 chopped dates
2 chopped apricots
Mix well and refrigerate overnight.

Morning Embellishments - I take about a cup (or so) of the muesli into a bowl and add –
A handful of fresh blueberries
A handful of fresh chopped strawberries
A sprinkle of unsalted sliced almonds
A sprinkle of unsalted roasted sunflower seeds

And voila - the finished breakfast, fabulously healthy and unbelievably delicious.

You really must give it a try! Yum!

A brief side note (or is that "bottom" note) - there is even a Bircher Muelsi appreciation group on Facebook! Come and join! :)

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