Inspired by a comment from a friend, and due to boredom with my current breakfast choices, I’ve made myself some muesli. It’s virtually impossible to buy commercial muesli as they all seem to have fruit in – even the so-called ‘nutty’ mueslis that are sold by and large seem to be off the menu, having concentrated apple juice or date paste or something similar added to sweeten them – thus making them impossible on the cinnamon & benzoate-free diet. (I did once find a completely fruit-free muesli but it contained cinnamon – go figure!)
For the grain base:
Look for a minimum of two different grain flakes – there are many types available at health food shops. Before purchasing, check on the labels or with the shop assistant as to whether they can be eaten raw, or eaten toasted, or if they have to be cooked with liquid – you need to pick grain flakes that are suitable raw or toasted.
Note about gluten – wheat, rye, oats & barley all contain gluten. Some people on this diet can tolerate all 4 of these grains. Others cannot tolerate wheat but are fine with the rest. Before you buy a huge bagful, be certain that you can tolerate the grain that you pick.
Gluten-free oats are also available and some shops will sell other gluten-free grains e.g. buckwheat, spelt, millet, rice, etc., however some of these will need cooking with liquid depending on how they have been prepared, so check with the shop before purchasing.
Note that tolerance to grains, be they gluten-containing or gluten-free, may alter depending on whether they’ve been cooked or not. For example, I personally can only tolerate cooked oats and cannot eat them raw – for this reason I toasted my porridge oats before using them in the muesli.
To toast a grain, heat a non-stick, dry frying pan. Tip the grains in a little at a time, to just cover the base. Stir around a little whilst toasting. When they start to steam, and take on a little colour, tip out into a bowl, and repeat as necessary.
Nuts are one of the few food groups that rarely trigger reactions among people who are sensitive to cinnamon and benzoates. Occasionally people react to walnuts, or have reactions to nuts based on another allergy, so if you’ve reacted to nuts before be careful which ones you pick.
Don’t go for ground nuts as they will just get lost and won’t add anything – look for 3 or 4 types, with a variation of sizes and textures. I used flaked almonds, lightly broken pecan nuts and whole cashews and peanuts. If you are buying bags of whole nuts make sure they are raw and not the roasted/salted varieties!
Again, seeds rarely cause reactions, although some people cannot tolerate pumpkin seeds or flax seed/linseed. Sunflower seeds seem to be universally okay, as do sesame seeds. A lot of health food shops sell huge varieties of seeds, all in separate packets – if you are unsure as to how you react, buy a small packet and try a little amount before you stir them into your muesli.
Fruit or sweet ‘bits’:
Dried fruit is not recommended unless you regularly eat a dried fruit without problems. Some people are okay with crystalised ginger in small quantities, and this can be added if you wish.
Small chips of (home-made) fudge or toffee can be sprinkled over the top but I don’t recommend they are stirred into a batch of muesli as they might not keep as well as the dry nuts and grains do.
The best way to add fruit to your muesli is to pick some safe fresh fruit and add it separately each breakfast time. Granulated sugar can also be added to taste.