Photo of muesli

Migraineur’s Muesli

“What!?! You even have to make your own muesli.” is an incredulous cry I hear all the time when explaining the cooking challenges living with a migraine sufferer poses. It’s funny because making muesli is probably one of the easiest things I do. It takes about half an hour and it lasts a whole month. That in and of itself makes it an incredibly satisfying task and well worth the low level of effort.

The reason we make our own muesli is to avoid two migraine triggers; preservatives and MSG.

Photo too close of muesli

Making your own signature muesli means you can put in only what you like.

For some reason that I have yet to understand, preservatives are added to dried fruit. The main function is to keep it an unnatural colour. Unfortunately these preservatives are used by the body in the nitric oxide (NO) pathway and trigger migraines. There are two ways around this; purchase preservative free dried fruit (it’s available at most bulk whole food stores) or dry your own. I prefer to buy mine in quantities I need for a recipe from a whole foods store.

MSG has a very sneaky way of working itself into breakfast cereals and bread in general. Over the past decade there has been a growing trend to use malted barley and flours. Malted flours enhance colour while imparting a sweet, savoury flavour to foods. They are a pure source of glutamic acid creating a umami taste. Since glutamic acid kick starts the NO pathway it can result in a migraine. The only way to avoid it is to carefully read food labels and putting back anything with malted barley and malted flours. If you are in a bakery, ask to read the food label, it’s in a binder under the counter, or simply ask the baker.

So of course we make our own muesli. It’s the only way we can ensure we are starting our day off nutritionally without any migraine triggers.

Breakfast with Chewbacca

My able bodied assistant Chewbacca checking out my photo composition. Oh wait, is that yogurt. Well I don’t mind if I do…

I prefer to sprinkle a little muesli over some yogurt and berries or to sometimes grab a handful as a sneaky snack. Stuart likes to incorporate a good handful into some cereal and milk. While #1 son likes a small bowl with milk. The great thing about making your own, is that you can have it exactly the way you like it. Enjoy my friends.

Migraineur’s Muesli

  • Servings: 5 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Simple homemade muesli that’s migraine trigger free.


Required skills: chopping without losing a finger; using a measuring cup instead of eyeballing it; setting a timer and doing things when it dings; multitasking.

The great thing about homemade muesli is that you can put in exactly what you like. Well almost, because you are a migraineur there are some fruits (blueberries, raspberries and cranberries) and nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts and peanuts) that are naturally exceptionally high in migraine triggers that are best avoided. Other than that, make it the way you like it. Leave out the nuts, leave out the fruit. It doesn’t matter as long as you keep the ratio of 5 cups of dry to butter/maple syrup toffee coating.

As you have to do something to the cooking muesli every 5 minutes I really recommend setting a timer. I find that it’s too easy to lose track of time, tidying the kitchen, watching cat videos etc, and end up burning the nuts and fruit if I don’t.

You'll Need

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts. Suggest half and half pepitas and flaked almonds
  • 1 cup of preservative free dried fruit chopped. Suggest half and half apricots and cherries
  • 1 cup of preservative free wheat, corn or bran flakes
  • 75 gms (⅓ cup) butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • Large mixing bowl
  • 9” x 13” (33cm x 23cm) baking dish
  • Spatula
  • Airtight jar that can hold 5 cups


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F)
  2. Place butter in cake pan and put into oven to melt while the oven is warming up. Remove when bubbling, about 5 minutes, and add in the maple syrup. Return to the oven until it is a bubbly, sticky toffee-like syrup; which should be for about another 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in the large mixing bowl combine the oats, nuts and chopped up dried fruit. Toss with your hands. Then gently toss through the cup of cereal.
  4. Remove bubbling butter and maple syrup from the oven. Pour muesli mix into the cake pan. Using a spatula, toss muesli in the butter/maple syrup toffee to thoroughly coat it.
  5. Return to oven and after 5 minutes (set a timer) pull it out and toss it again with the spatula.
  6. Return to the oven for 5 more minutes (set a timer).
  7. Remove from the oven and push some aside so you can see the bottom of the pan. If there is still some of the butter/maple syrup toffee then toss the muesli one last time and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes (set a timer).
  8. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to one month.

So my friends, what is your favourite combo for muesli?

Informed by science, cooked by you.

4 thoughts on “Migraineur’s Muesli

    • Sorry to hear you suffer from migraines. I wouldn’t wish them on anyone. Yes, you can substitute a different cereal for the oats. In a pinch I’ve used a simple wheat or corn flake. Just be sure they don’t have malted barley or malted barley flour as this is added MSG. Just reduce the butter and syrup to half as a flake cereal doesn’t absorb as much as the oats. You want to keep it crisp. Toss with care as it will be a bit more fragile. I’m excited to see how it turns out! If you’re on Instagram be sure and tag me on your creation.


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