Gabriel Schama has the distinction of being Eating with Abs‘ first-ever male columnist. It’s not just his gift for fashioning homemade delicacies, such as strawberry-ginger-rhubarb jam and French-style pickled carrots, that makes so many women swoon. Case in point: I offered some of my Berliner friends a sneak-peek at his bio shot, and they have already solemnly pledged their love to him. Gabriel lives and works as an artist, carpenter, and furniture designer — but learned to use a kitchen knife long before he ever picked up the chisel. It was from his father that he came to believe that a well planned family dinner might well be the cornerstone of all civilized society. His semi-recent move to San Francisco put him in touch with an abiding love for whole-earth living, which his New York origins never quite managed. See his work at GabrielSchama.com.
Since moving to California a year-and-a-half ago, my proper muesli breakfast has emerged as the nutritional core of my day. It’s built from simple, easy-to-prepare elements, packs in lots of healthy fats, fiber, and protein, and — perhaps most importantly — a rich mixture of flavor and textures. The dish is my variation of a traditional Swiss way of making muesli, a wonderful style of cereal which is common to see served all across the Alps, in the fanciest resorts and the humblest hostels.
The Muesli to End All Muesli
The night before, mix together the following ingredients in an airtight container, and refrigerate overnight. Come morning, if the mixture is a little thicker than you’d like, you can stir in a couple extra tablespoons of cold water.Quantities will yield about two servings:
- 1 whole apple, grated (sour varieties tend to hold up better)
- ½ cup of yogurt
- ½ cut of water
- ½ cup of rolled oats
I keep my pantry stocked with jars of all-sorts of non-perishable delights: raisins, dried pears, cherries and cranberries, Turkish apricots, dates, raw sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, and so on. Every morning I select a different combination of mix-ins and throw them in with some seasonal fruit, and a fist-full of my favorite mix of nuts. Never boring, fantastically energizing, and nutritionally balanced.
A Note on Nuts
This particular combination, particularly the pumpkin seeds, has a great balance of all the essential amino acids, plenty of Omega-3 fatty acid and protein, and is damn tasty, even without any salt added:
- one-part pecans, walnuts, or almonds
- one-part cashews
- two-parts pumpkin seeds
Generally roasting nuts in a flat pan at ˚400 for just about 10-12 minutes is sufficient. I tend to keep a close eye on the pan, and take it out when cashews start to brown, and the pumpkin seeds have started to crackle. I actually have to hide away in my pantry the jar I store this nut mixture in — or I will just spend all day in the kitchen, snacking.
A Note on Fruit
Currently, many of my local farmers’ market vendors are fantasizing about the coming stone-fruit season — the first nectarines are already already the size your fingertip, I’m told — but they will grudgingly admit that the citrus is rather good right now. In fact, the grapefruits, blood oranges, and pomelos available right now are some of the sweetest and most satisfying I have ever had. They’re the perfect companion for these sun-drenched, park-life weekends San Francisco is enjoying, but also great for mixing fresh into this dish.
Put on a pot of tea while you cut up whatever fruit you’re using, throw everything in a bowl, and you’ll have an amazing breakfast prepared before you even know it.