Friday, March 24, 2017

Muesli in Space or at Home: Overnight Oats for Food 'n Flix March Pick: "The Martian"

It's time for Food 'n Flix again and this month I am actually not running right at the deadline for once. I actually had may dish made last week, it just took a while for me to find time to post it. Baby steps! This month we are watching the 2015 science fiction film, The Martian, starring Matt Damon and hosted by Wendy of Our Life on the Farm. (You can see her announcement post here.)

If for some reason you haven't seen it--in short, The Martian is about Astronaut Mark Watney, who is struck by debris and believed dead after a storm hits Mars and forces the Ares III to abort their mission and take off back to their orbiting space vessel. Since there are no signs of life from Watney or his suit, he is left behind and must try to survive in order to have a chance of rescue. There isn't enough food and supplies to last until a potential rescue  so Watney is forced to "science the shit" out of his circumstances and grow potatoes and ration the leftover supplies to live. The film shows his fight to survive and the attempts made by NASA to rescue him.

I watched and enjoyed this film on Netflix when it came out but this time (with a DVD from the library), I watched it for the food. In addition to the potatoes Watney grows in his improvised green house, there are mentions and glimpses of food throughout the film--not always obvious but there for the finding. Most of what I wrote down came from an inventory list that Watney was making to count up the leftover rations. I stopped and paused and wrote down the parts of the list I could see to find a dish to make. There was Breakfast: Muesli and French Toast, Lunch: Mac & Cheese, Beef Goulash, Meatballs in Tomato Sauce, and Vegetarian Soup and Dinner: including Beef Stroganoff with Noodles, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Beef Teriyaki, Meatloaf, Veg Stew, and Meatloaf with Gravy.

I decided that the start to any long day whether in space or at home is a hearty breakfast so I decided to make muesli as my dish. If you aren't familiar with muesli, it is a breakfast dish based on raw oats, grains, seeds, nuts, and dried and fresh fruit that was usually mixed with milk or yogurt and left overnight for the oats to soften, then eaten cold. Muesli was developed in the early 1900s by Swiss doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital. The original Bircher muesli was soaked overnight with water and lemon juice and then mixed with yogurt to eat the next day.  

Muesli comes in many different styles and forms now pre-packaged and fresh, and like Overnight Oats which became popular in the blogosphere several years ago and remains fairly popular today. I am not a huge hot oatmeal fan but I go through phases where I make up batches of muesli and make overnight oats for breakfast. It is filling, easy to take on the go, keeps me satisfied for hours, and living in a climate that remains fairly warm year-round, I appreciate a cold breakfast many mornings. 

I have a few muesli recipes on the blog, including one for muesli bars but I usually make a variation from a Jamie Oliver recipe he calls Pukkolla from The Naked Chef Takes Off. I have changed it up over time and what goes in it depends entirely on what I have in the pantry but it is always delicious and although you need to plan enough to get some in the fridge the night before, it takes just a minute or two to pull out and add a few touches to have breakfast ready in the morning. 

I'm not sure how the muesli works in space--I tried to do some research and the most I could find is that the cold cereals in ration packets are usually dehydrated and a powdered milk added, then water is added when ready to eat. In this case, since I didn't have to worry about transporting it to Mars, I kept the powdered milk out and added unsweetened almond milk and Honeycrisp apple the night before, then fresh raspberries, a few coconut chips for crunch and a drizzle of maple syrup the next day for eating at home. For my-to go version--also pictured, I made it in a jar, using the grated apple and almond milk and then topped it with cacao nibs for a little crunch. (I would have added a chopped banana but I forgot to buy more!) ;-)

The base for this batch was rolled oats, ground flax, flax seeds, chia seeds, chopped raw walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and a mixture of dried fruit including golden raisins, dried cherries, dried pear and apricot and dried blueberries. 

Loosely Adapted from The Naked Chef Takes Off, Jamie Oliver
(Makes a Bunch) 

Muesli is one of the best things you can have for breakfast as it's got everything you need to kickstart your day. The great thing about this recipe that you can adjust it to your own preference with whatever fruit, nuts, milk or add-ins you want. Keep the dry muesli mix in a large airtight container. Then, the night before, pull out the portion(s) you want and add the milk and apple. Finally, as you are running out the door, you can top the muesli with some fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

Muesli Dry Mix:
8 large handfuls of organic rolled oats
2 large handfuls of ground bran, flax seed or wheat germ (optional for extra nutritional boost)
3 handfuls of chopped dried fruits of choice (such as raisins, golden raisins, dates, dried pineapple or papaya, chopped dried apricot, dried cherries or cranberries, etc.)

1 handful of crumbled or chopped walnuts or nuts of choice 
1 handful of pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds 
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Add your oats and bran (or ground flax seed or wheat germ) to your airtight container along with the dried fruit, nuts and cinnamon. Place the lid on and shake well to mix. This dry mixture will keep for a good couple of months very happily in your airtight container, but you'll probably have eaten it by then!

The Night before: 
milk to cover (*can use non-fat milk, almond milk, soy, etc.)
1/2 crunchy apple per serving, washed and unpeeled

You can make this anytime, but letting it sit overnight (or for about 8 hours), gives it a more smooth. Place the amount of dry muesli you want to eat in a bowl or small, lidded container. (Remember the dry muesli will almost double in volume so an average serving is about 1/2 to 1/3 cup of dry mix.)

Grate in around 1/2 an apple per person, cover with your milk of choice and stir immediately to keep the apple from discoloring. Place in the fridge. 

1/2 banana per person, peeled and sliced or mashed or 1/2 cup blueberries frozen or fresh, or other fruit of choice.
honey or maple syrup to taste

Remove the container/bowl from the fridge. You will find that it has softened and thickened, so loosen with a little additional milk. Add your banana, sliced or mashed or blueberries. You will find that a lot of natural sweetness has come out of the dried fruit, so add honey or maple syrup to taste. Serve and enjoy.

Notes/Results: To me, the homey crisp apple grated in the night before is what makes the muesli--that and the assortment of seeds and fruits that are like little treasures in the mix. You can of course make it to fit you specifications and dietary needs. For example, use less fruit to reduce the sugar, add more or less nuts and fruit to control calories, use your favorite kind of milk and fresh fruit, or even stir in yogurt or nut butter for some extra protein. This one was very tasty--I had a bunch of dribs and drabs of dried fruit, nuts and seeds for granola bars and such in my pantry and so I had a lot of variety in the mix. I liked the dried pears and cherries and the pumpkin seeds the best. It makes a bunch so I have the dry mix in a container and have been noshing on it for breakfast during the week--switching out the fresh fruit topping. I will happily make this again. 

I'm linking up this post at I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck this coming week, our chance to make any recipe from our current, or any of our past featured chefs. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.

I'm also linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post

The deadline for this round of Food 'n Flix is Thursday, March 30th and Wendy will be rounding up all the dishes on her blog. If you missed this round and like food, films and foodie films, join us for April when the film pick is A Touch of Spice, hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures With Camilla.



  1. I have never had muesli, it sounds much like granola though and I love granola. Thanks so much for joining me this month, Deb.

  2. Thanks Wendy! The base mix is like granola for sure only not toasted and in most cases soaked overnight in milk or other liquids before being consumed the next day. So it ends up kind of a granola/cold oatmeal hybrid. ;-)

  3. I love the idea of the grated apple as well! I also like your recipe with a "handful" of this and a "handful" of that. I think Whatney could've handled that! :) (Mine is up tomorrow so I also am not waiting until the last minute for once.)

  4. Sounds delicious. When I was a kid we either had raw muesli or toasted muesli - but these days people talk about granola instead of toasted muesli due to the American influence in Australia - I still call it all muesli. And in your case it would be raw muesli (in the days before the raw movement got very particular about what was raw) - I have visions of eating it in space with no gravity and the bits and pieces floating up in the air :-)

  5. thanks for sharing this recipe, I have this book so I'll check it out and try it:)

  6. Your version must be far tastier than the Martian one! I think muesli was the parent of granola in the 1960s and 70s.

    best... mae at

  7. Yum! This sounds like a delicious breakfast! How fun to have watched the movie looking for the food. I've only seen The Martian once but I'll definitely be looking at what he eats next time I watch it.

  8. I bet I could do this with my granola! I haven't read or seen the Martian! But I do know the story.

  9. Yum! What a perfect hearty breakfast!

  10. Muesli is definitely the perfect fuel for a long day. I bet Watney would have given almost anything just to have some of this stashed away!


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