If you have travelled in Switzerland or southern Germany for instance, you might have seen little bowls or glasses with Bircher Muesli served at a breakfast buffet or cafe.
Could look like this:
Dr. Bircher-Benner who worked in Switzerland around the turn of the 19th century, was inspired by the shepherds he saw up in the mountains and realized that their lifestyle led to good health.
He trained as a doctor and opened a clinic in Zurich. In the first year he became ill in jaundice, but recovered and felt it was from eating fresh apples. Dr. Bircher-Benner experimented with the health effects that raw food could have on the body and “invented” a recipe based on raw oat flakes, fruits and nuts. The so called Bircher Muesli. Later he opened a sanatorium, called “Vital Force” in 1897 in Zurich.
New Food Science – Raw Food
Dr. Bircher-Benner was convinced that raw / fresh fruits and vegetables had the highest nutritional value. Cooked foods and processed foods less and meat the lowest nutritional value.
The public understood him and his “new food science”, but not the scientists. But despite that he could still expand his practice.
He believed that raw food had more nutrition because it contained direct energy from the sun and he was one of the first scientists in Europe who believed that food could be used to keep the body healthy.
Dr. Bircher-Benner encouraged people with good health to eat 50% raw food daily and for those with weak health to eat 100% raw food.
His sisters Alice and Berta helped him create appealing dishes and this made the sanatorium enormously popular. Every meal there started with a small bowl of muesli, developed by Dr. Bircher-Benner, followed by mostly raw / fresh vegetables and a dessert.
The Story behind Haus Hiltl
One of his patients was Ambrosius Hiltl, who completely recovered from his illness by the way, and later opened a vegetarian restaurant in Zurich, in 1898. It is still run by the same family, now on the fourth generation.
It is called Haus Hiltl and holds a Guinness’s world record! Yes, for what?
How to make Bircher Muesli!
Would you like to make your own muesli according to Dr. Bircher-Benner? Swiss alp-style!
Here is the recipe for yummy creamy Bircher Muesli.
Based on Wikipedia’s article about Maximilian Bircher-Benner, plus on the Hiltl web page.