May 23

Simply Ancient Grains + 5-Ingredient Muesli

I love healthifying recipes, and having some inspiration is always nice, so when I first came across Simply Ancient Grains, I was intrigued…but also somewhat wary. I was slightly worried that I wouldn’t be able to find anything I really wanted to make in here. What if it had all sorts of special way-out-there ingredients that I couldn’t obtain? (I live somewhat in the middle of nowhere, so it’s a legitimate concern. :[ )

But I’m glad I gave it a chance!

To preface, this book is not only about grains–things like amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa are technically seeds, but they’re included in here since they have a similar nutritional profile + are eaten like grains.

Simply Ancient Grains

simplyancientgrainsBy Maria Speck


Genre: Cookbook
Pages: 262

Maria starts off with an introduction to a ton of different types of grains (+ indicates which ones are gluten-free), followed by different methods on cooking them, as well as tips on soaking, toasting, making ahead, reheating, freezing, storing, baking… I very happily discovered the rice cooker method a couple years back (e.g. this recipe for Quinoa with Salmon, Corn & Edamame), and even that’s included in there, with a shoutout to Jeanette!

You can approach this book in a couple different ways:

  1. Go to the “Pick Your Grains” table at the front and get inspired.
  2. Open a page and just start cookin’!

There are several handy charts on quick- + slow-cooking whole grains, with the amount of grains, amount of water needed, the required cooking time, approximate yield, whether or not it needs to soak…she was super thorough, so she’s got em’ all down!

Breakfast – Warming Bowls For Busy Mornings

Orange-Scented Amaranth Porridge with Apricots & Pine Nuts, Coconut Buckwheat Porridge with Cinnamon & Buttered Dates, Breakfast Polentina with Strawberries, Poppy Seeds & Lime, Minute-Oatmeal Puffs with Anise and Grapes…

Burgundy Bulgur with Blueberries & Orange Blossom Water

Burgundy Bulgur with Blueberries & Orange Blossom Water

Slow Mornings – Brunch, Lunch, & Breakfast-For-Dinner

Oatmeal Butternut Pancakes with Browned Buttered Nuts

Oatmeal Butternut Pancakes with Browned Buttered Nuts

I think it goes without being said that I love this chapter. It’s divided into 3 sections:

    • Gently sweet (Farro Scones with Almonds, Apples and Thyme, Dark Chocolate Spelt Waffles with Chile & Warm Raspberry Sauce…)
    • Savory (Red Rice Shakshuka with Feta Cheese, Olive Oil Popcorn with Aleppo Pepper & Flaked Sea Salt…)
    • Sumptuous (Red Rice & Beet Cakes with Honey Mustard, Minted Lamb Sliders with Pine Nuts & Currants…)

Salads & Sides – For Every Day & For Holidays

Minted Summer Couscous with Watermelon & Feta

Minted Summer Couscous with Watermelon & Feta

  • Salads (Freekeh Salad with Caramelized Cauliflower & Tuna, Warm Wild Rice Salad with Herb-Roasted Mushrooms & Parmesan…)
  • Sides (Creamy Millet with Yogurt, Avocado & Basil, Roasted Pomegranate Tomatoes with Fresh Mozzarella & Lime…)
  • Holidays (Quinoa Bites with Smoked Salmon & Dill, Barley & Wild Rice Dressing with Fennel, Apples & Marsala…)

Oven-Roasted Tofu with Mediterranean Herbs

Soups & Stews – For Busy Nights & Slow Weekends

Cumin-Scented Cauliflower Soup with Salmon, Freekeh Soup with Spicy Harissa Shrimp + Dates, Chicken Stew with Honey-Balsamic Squash & Farro, Spicy Beef Chili with Amaranth & Lime…

Kamut Salad with Oranges, Leeks & Blue Cheese

Kamut Salad with Oranges, Leeks & Blue Cheese


Fusili with Tahini Yogurt Sauce & Nigella Seeds, Kamut Spaghetti with Saffron-Infused Tomato Sauce, Farro Pasta Cacio e Pepe…

Simply Mains – For Busy Nights & Slow Weekends

Roasted Portobello Mushrooms with Hazelnut Buckwheat Stuffing, Proscuitto-Wrapped Roasted Bass with Teff Polenta, Roasted One-Pan Chicken with Leeks & Barley, Roasted Eggplant Fan with Tomatoes, Spelt & Mozzarella…

Vegetarian Wild Rice Paella with Sweet Potatoes, Tart Cherries, and Gorgonzola

Vegetarian Wild Rice Paella with Sweet Potatoes, Tart Cherries, and Gorgonzola

Simple & Sweet – Desserts For Every Day & For The Holidays

Barley Thumbprints with Honey & Hazelnuts

Barley Thumbprints with Honey & Hazelnuts

  • Desserts by the spoonful (Light Lemon Custard with Blackberries & Pomegranate Molasses, Greek Yogurt Chocolate Mousse…)
  • Cakes & cookies (Cardamom-Scented Barley Cake with Grapes & Rose Petals, Jugu Cakes: East African-Indian Peanut Biscotti…)
  • Festive favorites (Amaranth Pudding with Honey & Hazelnuts, Nantucket Cranberry Cake with Currants & Grand Marnier…)
Candied Squash Torte with Chocolate & Hazelnut Praline

Candied Squash Torte with Chocolate & Hazelnut Praline

In each of her recipes, she gives suggestions on variations in case you can’t find certain ingredients and/or it’s not the right season for them. She also indicates which recipes are gluten-free (roughly 2/3 of the recipes in here have at least one gluten-free option!). Most of the recipes in here are vegetarian, and if any meat is used, she offers up a meatless variation wherever possible.

Since I’m in medical school and time is always an issue, my personal favorite is that she throws in a ton of tips to help you streamline your cooking + de-stress your schedule with make-ahead instructions. You can make super-fancy-looking/sounding recipes without spending hours in the kitchen or shelling out money for a billion ingredients–what’s not to like?

I’m sure by now that you’re at least somewhat aware of how much I love food. When I had a horrible headache last year, my brother read me descriptions of food to distract me (kinda like a bedtime story), and I drifted off into a nice long nap that cured said headache. So of course, I loved all the matte pages of gorgeous food photography in here! I was sad that there wasn’t more of it, but the recipes more than make up for it, and I can’t wait to try them out (especially the veggie paella!). Maria Speck has truly found a way to make these ancient grains shine!

I’m sharing her super-simple formula for muesli, because this girl is currently swamped with exams all over the place, along with a whole lot of scheduling frustrations and woes about the future (I may elaborate sometime in the future, perhaps when all is said and done). For now, enjoy this super-simple breakfast/snack recipe!

The original recipe from Simply Ancient Grains makes 10 1/2-cup servings, but…I only wanted 1 serving, so I scaled it down to the max. :O If you’re making this in bulk, combine the ingredients into a tall glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, and shake it up, or stir with a soup spoon! It should last at room temperature for at least 4 weeks!

5-Ingredient Muesli



  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats (or any other grain flakes, e.g. rye, barley, quinoa, spelt, wheat, or a mixture)
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, or a mixture–I used walnuts)
  • 1/8 cup seeds (e.g. sesame, flax, pumpkin–I used sunflower seeds)
  • 1/3 cup dried fruit, chopped (e.g. apricots, figs, dates, prunes, raisins–I used a mixture of cranberry + longan*)
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt


  1. ย Add all ingredients into a bowl, and stir to combine.
  2. Add it to Greek yogurt, kefir, or milk, and place in fridge overnight to soften the grain flakes. Top with chopped fresh fruit, if desired.

*If you’ve never heard of longan, they made their first debut on this blog in my Lychee Jasmine Tea recipe!


  • What’s your favorite grain?
  • Is there an ancient grain you’ve always been curious about?
  • Do you have a favorite quick + healthy breakfast recipe? Share it with me in the comments!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.fairyburger.com/review-simply-ancient-grains-5-ingredient-muesli/



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  1. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

    I think I have this book in my Amazon wishlist! Because of course…ancient grains are a beautiful thing ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted…Friday Finisher 5/22/15My Profile

    1. Farrah

      They are indeed! :D!

  2. Elle

    I’m so intrigued by the recipe that has the orange blossom water. I’ve never tried it before! The photographs in the cookbook look lovely. I love quinoa so I am interested in picking up this book!
    Elle recently posted…Biofreeze Reviews. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Plus, How to Get $47.88 (53%) OFF via AmazonMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      I’m really intrigued by that one too–orange blossom water sounds super good! :O Apparently, it’s something you can just buy at the store(? at least, that’s the way the book makes it sound)!

  3. Eva

    I love grains! They are my main source of calories. Right now I have Kamut, Amaranth, Millet, and Quinoa in my pantry but I like to rotate things. Farro is on my subscribe-and-save list on amazon, so we almost never without it. This books seems to be a good fit for me. I just recently bought a couple of new cookbooks and trying to work my way through them. But when I’m ready to buy a new book, I will definitely give it a try.
    Eva recently posted…Homemade Hard Candy – ะŸะตั‚ัƒัˆะบะธ ะฝะฐ ะŸะฐะปะพั‡ะบะตMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      That’s awesome! Out of those, I’ve only ever tried quinoa, but this book makes me want to branch out! :]! If you already utilize all of those, I think this book would be good inspiration! :]

  4. Melanie

    That cookbook is beautiful!! I first had muesli when I was in Toronto as a child on vacation with my grandparents. We thought it was so cool to be trying something new. I loved it!! Thanks for making me think of that memory. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Melanie recently posted…Race Recap: Race the Bar 5K- Pig Pounder BreweryMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Aww, I’m glad my post was able to bring up a good memory! :] I think I had muesli for the first time only recently, but I like it a lot! ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. Carla

    ok. You maaaaay have me convinced I can actually make this. Here. Home. Solo.
    Stay tuned ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Carla recently posted…My child plays no sports.My Profile

    1. Farrah

      hehehe, I believe in you! :D!

  6. Shashi at RunninSrilankan

    Thanks so much for this review, Farrah – I think I could get lost in those sweet treats! I have always been curious about amaranth – I haven’t experimented with it yet – but would love too!

    1. Farrah

      For serious! There were so many that looked super good! (I’ll have to work my way through em’! <3)

      I haven't had a chance to really try amaranth yet, but that's definitely one I've been curious about too!

  7. Emily @ Zen & Spice

    I thought about ordering that book! I’m glad you did a review on it. Everything looks SO GOOD but unfortunately probably too “fancy” for my boyfriends picky tastes, lol!
    Emily @ Zen & Spice recently posted…Bored of Romaine? 8 Other Leafy GreensMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      A lot of it definitely looks super fancy, so I will probably try a lot of these out if I’m trying to impress someone! ๐Ÿ˜› If I’m cooking just for me, it’s rare that I’ll put as much effort into it, haha. :]

  8. Jessica @ Nutritioulicious

    This book looks beautiful. I love cooking with grains, but end up using the same two or three, especially quinoa since it cooks up so fast! I should really branch out more!

    1. Farrah

      I tend to get stopped up on the same ones too, but now I really want to try out the others! ๐Ÿ˜› (+ yay for quinoa!!)

  9. Cheyenne Hope Rose

    These look wonderful! I need to try this. I just get so overwhelmed.

    1. Farrah

      It can be hard to choose since everything looks so good–I usually try to narrow it down by choosing a recipe that I already have most of the ingredients for, so I won’t have to buy as much (or can substitute the last of what I don’t have)! :]

  10. Jess @hellotofit

    That cookbook looks awesome – any cookbook with beautiful pictures draws me in immediately. I love longan ๐Ÿ™‚
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Link Love #19 and bye-bye, burnoutMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Same here! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m a sucker for gorgeous food photography!

      Yay for longan! <3 I miss getting to eat it fresh! *-*

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