Muesli, muesli, muesli--say that three times fast! I recently saw some muesli on a buffet breakfast at a hotel and heard more than one person struggle to read the name on the little sign next to it. Muesli falls into the cereal category, along with a lot of other similar food varieties. One of the most similar is granola, which is often confused with muesli by many people. If you are still not 100% sure what differentiates muesli and granola, then we are here to help! Keep reading to discover what exactly makes muesli muesli and not granola!
What Is Muesli?
Muesli is actually just a mixture of different ingredients, including nuts, oats, dried fruit, and often other grains or spices as well. It was “invented” or created by a Swiss physician who was in charge of a long-term care facility for chronically ill patients. This physician, Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner, was a firm believer in the power of food as medicine, and he would actually prescribe this mixture he created to his patients as he would prescribe medicine. Obviously, we at Bob’s Red Mill share the belief that food can have restorative and healing powers when made correctly, so we're not surprised that Dr. Bircher-Benner’s patients tended to see positive impact from his creation. It quickly spread nationally and internationally as a new healthy food trend, and muesli has been around ever since!
What Is Granola?
Granola is also in the general cereal family and consists of rolled oats, nuts, honey, or other sweeteners. Granola was invented in a similar way to muesli, at the Jackson Sanitarium in New York in 1863. The mixture was duplicated by John Harvey Kellogg (you may have heard of him!) and changed from the original name “granula” to “granola” that we know and love today. In the 1960s, granola was revived as a health food and things like nuts and fruit were mixed in to add some excitement!
How Are They Different?
So these two foods sound very similar, even down to how they were created. Why is one so much more popular, and one still gaining in popularity? And what exactly makes something granola versus muesli? These are the questions we're going to answer today.
You may have noticed one significant difference in the ingredients of muesli and granola already. Granola contains “honey, or other sweeteners” while muesli does not. Granola is actually baked before consumption, and if you've ever had granola, you probably noticed that it comes in little clusters, perfect for popping into your mouth straight from the bag. This is not the same with muesli. In fact, the granola is baked specifically with a sweetener or glaze that creates these little clusters. Muesli, on the other hand, isn’t glazed or baked, and thus does not come in clusters. So while both granola and muesli can contain all kinds of nuts, oats, grains, fruits, and other ingredients, the true test of whether something is classified as a granola or a muesli is whether or not it is baked! If your mixture is baked into crunchy clusters, it's definitely granola, and if not, then it is more likely muesli.
The preparation of these two cereals is slightly different as well. Granola is often eaten directly from the bag or added to another meal like oatmeal or yogurt. Muesli, on the other hand, is best prepared before consumption, but can be eaten straight from the bag. To prepare muesli, you soak or cook it in a liquid of your choice. You can soak muesli in milk overnight in the fridge and eat it cold, or you can cook it in water or milk just like you would oatmeal and eat it warm! The soaking or cooking breaks down the oats and makes them easier to chew and easier to digest, and this also ends up making the muesli more nutritious, as the nutrients in the oats can actually be absorbed this way.
Nutritionally speaking, both granola and muesli can be kind of confusing. This is because there are so many different varieties and combinations of each. At Bob’s Red Mill, we have five varieties of muesli alone. We are sure you have seen granola sections at health foods stores that go on and on and on and . . . okay, you get the point. Though there are a few things that will remain consistent, you have to pay close attention to what is in your granola or muesli to determine its nutritional value.
If you are buying pre-made muesli or granola, then typically muesli is going to be a bit healthier. This is because it does not contain any of those oils or sweeteners that are used to bake the granola. With muesli, however, you also have to consider the liquid that you are soaking or preparing your muesli in. If you use something like apple juice, which is a favorite choice of many, then you will also have a good deal of the sugars that come with that. We recommend using your favorite naturally sweetened juice or any cow or alternative milk, just make sure to read your label for any sneaky additional ingredients!
The most important factor here is to always pay attention and read your labels. As with any food, the ingredients will vary from brand to brand, and you may even find some “muesli” that has sweeteners or oils in it and is mislabeled. Now that granola has grown so much in popularity, some companies are turning more toward muesli as it can seem healthier in name than granola. There is no governing body for labeling granola and muesli correctly, however, so we urge you to check the ingredients and nutrition on the label before making any assumptions.
Ease of Access
Another important distinction between granola and muesli is the ease of access. You can probably guess where this is going because you have likely seen rows and rows of granola and granola bars in your local store, whereas you may not even have known what muesli was until today. You will probably be able to find at least one variety of muesli in your local stores, but you will have to visit a health food store to find a larger selection with different types! Granola, on the other hand, can be found pretty much anywhere. As we touched on before, though, be wary of granola bars or mixtures that are filled with additives like chocolate chips, peanut butter, and other flavors. While delicious, these additives really take away from the true value of the granola.
Now, here is the important part. Which tastes better? This will, of course, depend on your own personal preferences, but there are some differences. That sweetener in granola makes it a little more taste-friendly. However, you will most likely be consuming the granola in a more “raw” fashion, so if you're not into the crunchy texture, then muesli may be a better choice for you. Muesli typically soaks up into a texture similar to that of oatmeal or porridge, so if you prefer to eat your oats with a spoon then you will love muesli. The taste differences will depend a lot on which ingredients are included in the mixture that you get, but the great thing about both is that there are so many types you are sure to find several that you love!
No matter how you like to eat your grains, both muesli and granola provide a wide array of flavors and textures for you to enjoy. They are both full of heart-healthy antioxidants, fiber, and protein to give you a boost of energy that keeps you going all day! You can make your own muesli or granola at home, enjoy some from the store, or check out our very own Bob's Red Mill Muesli! Either way you will be doing your body a favor if you pay attention and get the right variety with the right ingredients.