Swiss Muesli

“Busy” is one of my least favorite words. It’s exaggerated and overused, an excuse for flakiness or laziness, and a way to make us seem more prestigeous. I try not to get swept up in the whole “I’m so busy” thing, firmly believing that I will make time for the things that are most important to me.

That said, with classes and work and the rest of life, I certainly have to be smarter about how I use my time lately. I do a lot of mental calculations to determine if it’s better to go out with friends or go home and do the pile of laundry that is oozing out of my closet like some horror movie villain. I allow myself a few meals out a week, because cooking is just not always happening. I have, on occasion, prioritized sleep over running and socializing over sleep. But so far, things aren’t too bad. I’m surviving, and I’m mostly happy.

One of my favorite time-saving techniques is batch cooking. I’ll hit my kitchen on a Sunday or a Monday and make a big pot of something to eat all week. This saves time, and helps ensure I’m eating right most, if not all of the time. Lately, in addition to lunches I’ve also been making breakfasts. At first, it was just plain old overnight oats, but then I remembered the muesli I had at Swiss Bakers a few months ago. The muesli there is insanely good… like so good that there is no way it’s good for me (hint, it contains whipped cream!).  I started to wonder if I could make a muesli at home that would taste almost as good, but also be better for me. A bit of experimenting led to a basic recipe that tastes like it’s a lot worse for you than it actually is.

My favorite part about muesli is that it can be altered to your tastes, or whatever’s handy in the kitchen. It takes about 15 minutes to make a batch, which makes about five, one-cup servings. Essentially, breakfasts/ snacks for a week.


Swiss Muesli
1 cup milk (I use unsweetened almond milk, but use any milk you like)
1 cup non-fat yogurt
2 cups rolled oats
3 apples, grated or shredded (peel if you want; I don’t)
1/4 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped (or another nut/seed)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2-3 Tablespoons honey (or agave or other sweetener)

Other optional adds: wheat bran, ground flax, chia seeds, spices, seeds, nut butters

Comine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit overnight in refrigerator. Store in closed jars. Serves five to six.


Deconstructed granola pancakes

For years I’ve been telling people that I can’t make pancakes. Sure, I can smoke a pork shoulder and make fruit preserves, but my attempts at pancakes were generally sub-par. Sometimes they burned, sometimes they tasted terrible. But I’m happy to report that I’ve finally figured it out.

I went on a long ride last weekend with the Blue Hills Cycling Club. Just a few guys showed up for their 6 a.m. Saturday ride, and they very nicely let me come along despite my being obviously slower than them. I rode with them to Scituate (similar loop here) and then told them to go ahead. It was a gorgeous route along some back roads on the South Shore and then along the water from Hull to Cohasset. I managed to find my way home without too much trouble and felt much better on this 50-miler than I had just a week ago at the CRW Spring Century.


When I got home it was almost 11 and I was pretty hungry. I try to eat every hour on the bike, but Clif bars aren’t super satisfying. A couple of these pancakes topped with syrup from my friend Billings did the trick pretty well though.

My inspiration for these was a granola pancake I saw on a menu somewhere. The idea of having more texture and wholesomeness in a pancake appealed to me, and I’ve discovered that the leftovers make a great pre-workout or mid-morning snack.


Deconstructed granola pancakes
Makes 11 large pancakes

1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/4 sugar
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups milk or almond milk
1 egg
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and coat with a bit of melted butter. If butter sizzles in pan, reduce heat to low. Scoop 1/2 cup of batter per pancake into pan and let spread. Flip when batter starts to bubble and sides look slightly cooked. Let cook another minute or two and then remove from pan. Store leftovers wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge.

Make your own Life Alive

One of my favorite local places to eat out at is a vegetarian restaurant in Cambridge called Life Alive. It’s a crunchy, hippie place, full of plants and inspirational quotes, and you never, ever feel badly about yourself when you eat there.

In addition to wheatgrass shots, kombucha, and fresh-made juices, they offer a variety of “warm meals” with names like The Goddess (“Our famous Ginger Nama Shoyu Sauce nurturing carrots, beet, broccoli, dark greens, & tofu gracing short-grain brown rice”) and The Alchemist (“Our Ginger Nama Shoyu Sauce transforming sweet corn, shredded carrots, dark greens, tofu, sun-sprouts & sesame seeds over protein-rich quinoa”).

Vegetarian restaurants can be drab places full of sorry mixes of bland vegetable, but Life Alive proves that good for you food can also taste good. The meals are surprisingly tasty, a creative mix of vegetables enlivened by bold sauces that feature garlic and ginger prominently. Even my dad, a practical carnivore, loved it.


Of course, I’m not the only one who loves it there. The restaurant is often packed, and service can be somewhat… relaxed. Since the food is made to order, sometimes it takes a while. And on occasion, my food has been given to the wrong table, which is a huge bummer when it’s 6:30 p.m. and you’re starving. It’s also kind of a tough place to go with a big group.

So I was sort of excited when I was perusing the internet a few months ago and found a recipe for something called a “winter abundance bowl.” That looks like something they’d make at Life Alive, I thought as I read. And then a eureka moment: “I could make that at home…”

And so I did, and it was good, but I did some tweaking to better suit my tastes. A few weeks ago I invited some friends over for “Make your own Life Alive” and they raved about it. So last weekend, wanting to fuel well before running the Newport 10-miler, we did it again. This time, I made the garlic pepita sauce, and also made a recipe based on ginger nama shoyu sauce they serve at Life Alive, using this recipe as a guide.


The spread

Rather than pre-making bowls, I just set out bowls of vegetables and let people mix their own. Saturday we had quinoa, brown rice, shredded carrots, sautéed zucchini and summer squash, steamed kale, roasted root vegetables, grated raw beets, sautéed mushrooms, bok choy, sweet potatoes, tofu, kimchi, and shredded chicken. It was a huge hit, and a great pre-race meal. Everyone who ate it PR’d the next day… and Scott won second in his age group. I think we’ll be making this a mainstay.

life alive

 Selfie with food/ Scott’s bowl #1/ Scott post-run, with award (2nd in his age group!)

To make your own Life Alive/ Abundance bowl, simply start with the grain of your choice, top with your favorite vegetables and protein, and then drizzle with one of the sauces below. Again, this is great for a family or a crowd as everyone can make a bowl to suit their tastes. Like kale? Take extra. Hate mushrooms? Leave them out! It’s pretty simple.

Ginger Nama Shoyu Sauce

4 garlic cloves
4-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup tamari (or soy sauce)
1/2 cup lemon juice (you may want a bit more, adjust to your taste)
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth. If mixture is too thick add additional water until it’s the desired consistency.


Green garlic and ginger pepita sauce
(adapted from My New Roots)

1 cup pepitas, toasted
4 cloves garlic
4-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. apple cider vinegar (or white will be ok too)
3 Tb. lemon juice
1 cup water
salt to taste
your favorite hot sauce, to taste

Blitz all ingredients in a food processor/blender until smooth. Mixture will thicken overnight, so you may need to thin it with some water before serving.