Muesli can be high in sugar, fat and kilojoules, so we turn the experts to show us how to make healthier options.
"The perception that muesli is healthy may lead people to eat it in larger quantities than is recommended," says accredited practising dietitian and Dietitians Association of Australia spokesperson Kate Deppeler. Compare energy density (kJs per 100 g), grams of fat per 100 g (especially saturated) and sugars per 100 g. Keep serving size to half a cup – not three quarters as some packaging recommends or the two thirds or full cup often suggested for processed cereal products.
Here are a few tips on how to turn your muesli into a healthy breakfast:
If you love muesli, homemade is best. "Making homemade muesli allows you to have total control over the nutritional content of the finished product," Deppeler says. You can add a serving of real fruit, extra protein (think protein powder) and good fats in seeds such as chia.
Tasting Notes: Add "a variety of grains, such as rolled oats and bran, and a small amount of chopped nuts, seeds and dried fruit", Deppeler says.
The yum factor of toasted muesli puts it on notice for overeating. Which is extra dangerous since toasted varieties are often cooked in fat and cram in significant extra kilojoules with no extra nutrients or satiety.
Tasting Notes: Keep toasted muesli serves to one quarter of a cup, which has about the same number of kilojoules as a half-cup serving of natural muesli.
Blinging up muesli with nuts and seeds is a great way to make your brekkie more nutrient dense – and tasty, Deppeler says. Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of healthy fats and provide an additional source of fibre.
Tasting Notes: Limit portions of nuts and seeds to a pinch as they are energy dense. "A little goes a long way," says Deppeler. But don't eschew them to save kJs; the extra nutrients you gain will help cultivate conditions that result in less hunger later.
Muesli soaked in yoghurt or milk has become the brunch du jour, but despite a reputation as a healthy option, so-called bircher can be deceptive. "Due to the addition of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fruit juice, yoghurt, sweetener and oil or butter, the kilojoules quickly add up," Deppeler cautions. A bowl of bircher can contain as many calories as a plate of fish and chips or slice of lasagne.
Tasting Notes: Café servings amplify existing energy surpluses as their serving sizes can literally equate to half the average woman's daily energy needs. It's ideal to make your own so you can control additions and quantities, but if you do order out, estimate a half cup and leave the rest.