Kelloggs Country Store

Kellogg’s Country Store seems to be one of those cereal that isn’t all that widely available; I’d heard about it yes, but never had really seen it around any supermarkets before until my local Sainsbury’s greatly expanded and started stocking far more yummy cereal products. Yippee! Obviously anything new, that hasn’t been tried before simply has to be bought for..ahem..research purposes..especially when it is a product of the muesli variety.

Kelloggs Country Store

Us Brits are weird..we’re one of the only countries in the world that actually eats our muesli, generally, dry, without soaking it in anything; I remember one year when I was holidaying to Madeira marvelling at how delicious their soaked muesli was with huge juicy raisins and a creaminess akin to nothing I’d tried before. Anyway enough of my ramblings, quite simply put this is a muesli made up of : oats and little cornflakes with sultanas, hazelnuts, dried apple pieces, honey and a sprinkling of brown sugar.

Kelloggs Country Store

When you peek into the packaging some of this muesli appears to be just dust..but oh wow how this dust tastes good..quite simply put like a sweet oaty brown sugar that you just want to shovel down your throat. This is a cereal that may not even make it into the bowl as it is so good to eat dry; so sweet and moreish..which I must say many mueslis are not.

However this is where the weird part comes..Country Store is good dry, yes, but is it good just poured into a bowl and topped with milk. Hell no! The mini cornflakes lose their crunch, the dust just becomes mush and all the cereal just seems to loose its sweet honey sugar oat flavour; fair enough the hazelnuts add a nice crunch here and there but ultimately its drab.

Kelloggs Country Store

 

Do not fear though..Country Store can be saved. Simply soak it overnight! I don’t care what you soak it in but soak it!..Ok maybe milk may be a good idea haha! I soaked mine in almond milk overnight and then topped it with a bit extra milk come morning time. I cannot express how good it makes the cereal; once the oats etc have been allowed to absorb the creamy milk overnight everything just becomes ideal; the flavour stays and just becomes a refreshing sweet bowl of brown sugar muesli heaven; the sultanas are rich, juicy and succulent, the apple pieces are moist and refreshing and although the hazelnuts lose a little bit of their crunch it doesn’t matter because ultimately the taste is just so much better.

 

Kelloggs Country Store

 

If you want a breakfast cereal that is relatively healthy but still feels so indulgent you’ve just gotta grab yourself some of this if you can find it..just make sure to do it the continental way and soak it overnight!

Advertisements

Nestle Honey Nut Shredded Wheat

Ah-ha! Shredded wheat. The healthy staple – according to several health publications & websites. Why? 158kcal / serving (40g) with 5 grams of protein. Not too bad eh; (maybe it should be expected, since it’s “nothing but wheat” – well, that’s beside the point).
Not to mention how the varieties of this cereal across the major producers share roughly the same nutritionals: Post, Kellogg’s, General Mills (via Fiber One in the USA) and Nestle have their versions: Shredded Wheat, Mini-wheats, and Bite-Size, etc.

How does the version by Nestle, in UK, stand?

These aren’t the large ones by the way. Those are Shredded Wheats, each one the size of your hand, where the recommended serving is 2 for breakfast. The Honey Nut Shredded Wheats today are small, not “mini” like Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats, but about the size of a Gorilla’s thumbnail. (Or so I think, since it is substantially larger than mine, as seen below)


I should get into something I have termed the “wheat size” debacle. What is up with “bite-size”, “mini”, and regular shredded wheat. Kellogg’s in the USA actually distinguishes between these three, which I find incredibly odd. The main reasons I see for this are:

1) More Minis can fit a spoon
2) The Regular can effectively become a huge pillow of soaked-in-milk-goodness
3) The Bite-size are, truly, one per bite, and less more-ish, but more savoury.
4) Some like their cereal crushed. Minis solve that problem.

I’m not sure about whether others feel the same way, but those are my thoughts.

Back to Post’s Honey Nut Shredded Wheat:

Dry. They look like dried animal skins, tied into bundles. They are so dry, that eating them plain will indeed “shred” the insides of your mouth (as many have noted with Cap’n Crunch). I believe this one’s more potent though: it resembles twigs that are actually sharp on their ends.

Kid-friendly, Honey Nut Shredded Wheat is not. Note that you probably won’t have this problem with the large sized wheat biscuits, as those clearly can’t be eaten whole, in one bite.

In milk though, we get a different creature, at different times:

1-minute in: crisp internals, soggy external, but with the “honey nut” sugar crust still intact

5-minutes in: soggy mini pillow. Sugar crust intact, but otherwise soggy.

You’d expect a bad review here – in terms of texture. But hey: it IS enjoyable, 5 minutes in, to bite through that honey-sweet crust, into that puffy wheat biscuit. The soggy characteristic is a strength, and not a weakness, in this cereal. Coupled with the sugar crust, you get something akin to “single-layered cream biscuit”, except in inversed-proportions: here the biscuit is the sugar crust, and the wheat, the cream.

You may say this is absolutely nuts. Well, that’s what I think, and if you feel the same way after reading this – yippee-kai-yeh, we’ve found kindred spirits in each other.

Note though; without the sugar crust (I.e. Plain shredded wheat), I doubt you’d get the same experience. What’d be left would be one, soggy, mess.

Taste, however: plain. Drab. Nothing, cardboard (except for the sugar crust)

The wheat itself is so plain that it needs no description. Honestly. Maybe that’s why Plain Shredded Wheat is a “healthy cereal” then, owing to the restraint in added sugar.

Thank God for the sugar crust. If not for that, you’d have a tasteless cereal. It’s a simple amalgam of glazed sugar and nuts (hence: “honey nut”). The sweetness doesn’t quite resemble pure honey though; more like a malt sugar akin to Honey Stars and other cheaper self-professed “Honey” cereals.

Sugar crust on top, non-sugar crust on the bottom

Taste-wise: drab, saved by additional element.
Texture-wise: drab, saved by additional element.

I say again – If not for the sugar-crust, this would be a waste of calories.

However, the “Honey Nut” here adds a level of crisp-crunchiness, and the light taste of malt-sugar.

That, combined with the nutritionals and price, makes this cereal worth your while.

-The Exercising Male

Alpro Almond Milk

And now to continue with our growing milk series of reviews of milk that did not come from a cow! Today I bring to you my staple milk; my go to, what I always have at the back of my fridge waiting to be poured over my morning offering : Alpro Almond Milk. I’ve tried a few almond milks in my time but I have to say that this one is the best one I’ve tried so far; released only quite recently with its counterpart Alpro Hazelnut Drink, this almond milk is made with a mixture of water, almonds, a bit of sugar to sweeten and various other vitamins/stabilisers etc.

Alpro Almond Milk

The thing I love most about this Almond Milk is that it tastes so creamy; my usual skimmed milk and various other almond milks I’ve tried always seem to be really watery, and don’t provide that wonderful cereal milk finish to my breakfast bowl.

This however is more than satisfactory; with a light taste of sweet nutty almonds this milk is the perfect addition to any bowl of cereal; however I must point out that it is exceptionally good for you if are planning to soak oats/muesli over night, unlike skimmed milk this provides an overall much creamier finish so that when you come to get your bowl of oats out of the fridge the next morning you certainly won’t be disappointed at how luxurious it tastes.

Alpro Almond Milk

The best thing is that despite how creamy this tastes it is actually lower in calories and sugar than your regular milk; albeit the sugar isn’t from lactose but from pure added sugar, but still at 24kcal per 100ml this certainly isn’t something to turn your nose up to and is perfect for either someone watching their calories or someone who is lactose intolerant.

Whilst I am not one normally to just reach for the fridge to pour myself a glass of milk I must say that I would be much more likely to with this Alpro Almond Milk, as not only is it creamy, sweet and deliciously nutty but it’s also really good for you; packed full of vitamins and delightful almond goodness!

Chocolate Lucky Charms – General Mills

This post should ruffle some feathers.

(Note – this is a “British / UK blog” perspective on an American cereal)

In the numerous debates of which Chocolate Breakfast Cereal reigns supreme, the likes of Chocolate Chex, Chocolate Lucky Charms, Chocolate Frosties, Chocolate Cheerios, Cocopops, Kokoa Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, and Count Chocula have been named. Note that I have only named cereals which have some potential of colouring your milk: “healthy” variants like Special K don’t count, since the remnants of chocolate in that one hardly qualify.

Chocolate Lucky Charms aren’t available in the UK. You can get them from American Soda, with relatively cheap shipping too, since they don’t charge some GBP5 flat rate like most online grocers do.

Attack of the elves. It doesn’t get much better than that. The box art consists of this creature munching on a HUGE bowl of cereal. Does this attract kids? I have absolutely no idea. It actually seems almost nightmarish, akin to a massive Clown attack (many of us have a secret clown phobia that lies deep within us.)

Chocolate cereal with dehydrated marshmallows. Not much deviation from typical Lucky Charms here – I suppose there isn’t any reason for changing a successful formula that’s lasted through the decades.

Curious shapes. Another manufacturing masterpiece – akin to the Cascadian Farm Clifford Crunch shapes which had holes in them. Wait a minute – these two cereals don’t merely resemble each other in aesthetic complexity:  they DO have similar shapes. That’s odd. The only difference being their colour – one is massively cocoa-stained.

Size is similar too, so I need not delve into that.

The key difference in Chocolate Lucky Charms is the heavy-handed addition of dehydrated marshmallows. These are similar to the ones in the conventional Lucky Charms, multi-coloured little tykes. You can see that there really ARE quite a lot of marshmallows in this cereal. The producers aren’t deceptive producers like Kellogg’s who add minuscule chocolate pieces to Special K Chocolate. The only way to explain this, would be through a picture.

Texture – ooh. I’d expected threethings:
1) Typical chocolate / cocopops crunch
2) Some crispy, then puffy bites of marshmallow
3) Cereal gets mushy like any typical Cocoa Puff out there.

Guess what? My expectations were met.

There’s nothing SPECIAL about this one. Mediocre crunch, expected marshmallow texture, expected duration-to-mushy-ness. Note how I don’t say I was “disappointed” here. I had expected this.

Maybe the good part of this cereal is something I will never understand. I think it’s the NOSTALGIA evoked when one chews on the marshmallow; the yield of the crispy crunch to the “dissolving puff” of it, that I can’t associate with, having never eaten this cereal in my childhood.

Texture – PLAIN, with some surprise through the marshmallows.

Oh yes – a note on the cereal milk produced. This one stains your milk. A nice brown – like your horribly sweet Cocoa Krispies. Not just physically – but you can detect that faint chocolate taste in the milk as well, though not as apparently as those in Cocopops / Krispies. Some would say this alone makes Chocolate Lucky Charms worthwhile as a chocolate cereal. I don’t think so. That’s just one aspect of the following.

Now: the deciding factor in most battles of the “Chocolate Breakfast Cereal” kind, which many so-called cereals have lost: Does Chocolate Lucky Charms confer the chocolate hit that so many of us crave?



Nope. Sad to say. To me, it fails to. Why?

On biting into this, there was a vague familiarity in the cereal. As the trapdoors of cereal memories opened in my mind, with tastes of previously-had breakfast cereals revealing themselves, I realized these tasted of Cocoa Krispies. Plain, simple, low-cocoa content sweetness. I had expected so much more – taste-wise – of the famed Chocolate Lucky Charms which theimpulsivebuy, Grubgrade, and others had spoken of. The chocolate-y flavour was there: it was just too simple.

Of course, you could say that I’m being an ass for expecting so much. After all, this is a kids’ cereal we’re talking about here. Not some artisan chocolate product.

“You buy these off the shelves, for crying out loud.”

My rebuttal: Yeah, but if Reese’s Puffs, Cap’n Crunch, and Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins can give me that rich, dense PB hit, why can’t this? If some granolas can give me a decent cocoa hit, why can’t this?

Chocolate aside, the marshmallows were fabulous. Lightly sweetened to match its light texture, a dissipating, fine sugar-compound that is more complex than you think, as if it was “packable cake icing”. Phew. I see why people can succeed on creating businesses around the sole purpose of selling these cereal marshmallows. Cereal marshmallows are incredibly versatile, and match any breakfast cereal base.

Nutritionals:  120 kcal for a 3/4 cup. Not bad – similar to your range of chocolate breakfast cereals out there (pretty close to Chocolate Cheerios too). So this cereal doesn’t score particularly highly on this point.

Plain-jane chocolate cereal with some fancy-schmancy, yet time-tested marshmallows to add a crispy-puffy bite. I wouldn’t pick this over Cocopops for chocolate-y-ness, but I would pick it over the rest for it’s marshmallows.

UK readers: pop by American Soda, to get some!

-The Exercising Male

Fuel Chocolate Chunks Granola

In a society where a large majority of people seem to live off energy drinks to get through the day I’m surprised it’s taken so long for a specific “energy” breakfast cereal to be launched in major supermarkets; many people need a cup of coffee and a bowl of something tasty to kick start their day so why not combine the two and create a stimulation cereal, apparently meant to “fuel our 10k hours”, the amount of hours of work that need to be put in to become an elite in our chosen field. I do remember reading about Fuel quite some time ago but recently they have had a packaging overhaul complete with a more intense serious edge, complete with an intense looking eye on the front, focused and alert…hopefully how we are meant to feel after munching our way through a bowl full of this!

Fuel Chocolate Chunk Granola

Fuel comes in 3 different varieties : fruit, nut & chocolate…naturally I went for the chocolate one first and decided that I would try it for  breakfast before an extremely intense spinning class to see if it energised me through that, and throughout the day. Enriched with added Guarana and B vitamins,  there is an assortment of chocolate and crunchy caramel granola clusters, big huge chunks of 70% dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds lurking inside the packet.

Fuel Chocolate Chunk Granola

I am glad to say that this is not a flimsy meek and mild granola..this is the proper stuff, huge..and I mean huge oaty clusters! Something that you can really get your teeth into and it doesn’t feel like you are eating a bowl of dust! To complete this the 70% dark chocolate chunks are equally as big, these are not little flimsy “chocolate chips”, and there is a huge amount of them distributed throughout the packet..don’t fear you don’t have to go hunting/shaking the packet to make sure you get a chocolate chunk in each bowl. You get at least 10!

Fuel Chocolate Chunk Granola

The only problem with the chunks being so big is that this cereal is pretty heavy, so although it may look like you barely have anything in your bowl you’ve actually weighed yourself a 100g serving of this cereal, and when it packs a higher calorie punch, as this cereal does, around 460kcal per 100g, if you’re watching your waistline you may want to be careful how much you serve. However with me feeling that I needed to be energised for my morning spin this wasn’t a problem…and now to the real question..yes, yes, this tastes like a really good granola..but its meant to be an ENERGY granola. Did it do its job?

Fuel Chocolate Chunk Granola

To be honest yes, I felt energised, alert and alive throughout all of my spinning class and it kept me going til at least 2pm, normally after a spinning class I’m starving by about 12 o clock, and the best thing, I felt satisfied that I’d had such a tasty amazing breakfast! Its big, chunky, satisfying, chocolate loaded and the best part..the milk turns amazingly chocolatey! What with not only the chocolate granola clusters, but also the addition of the huge chocolate chunks you are left with such a delightful treat once you’ve finished your bowl of cereal.

At £3.69 a box it’s priced alongside other granola cereals but I picked mine up on special for £2..which is amazing value..and considering you’d pay around £1.30 for 1 can of energy drink its so much better value as not only does it give you your energy hit but it tastes amazingg!

Back to Nature – Chocolate Delight Granola

Another wondrous chocolate cereal.

We’re going to be focusing on the spectrum of chocolate-themed breakfast products for a bit. So searching “Best Chocolate Breakfast Cereal” on Bing or Google should, we hope – bring you here.

Back To Nature’s Chocolate Delight Granola is “thick”, rich, weighty. If cornflakes were the feather weight of flakes, and thicker Special K was a Heavy weight Flake, then Back to Nature’s offering clearly falls in the higher weight classes of the granola family.

Once again, I realised there weren’t many non-sponsored reviews online, so I thought it would be apt to review this one, despite it being available only in the US of A. I bought this through iHerb, which offers cheap shipping to the UK, and a 5 dollar discount (use code QID159) for your first purchase.
You may now be wondering what makes this granola a heavy-weight. Look at the chunks. Huge. Unbroken. Powerful. When describing them, you wouldn’t say that they “soak” in milk – NO – I’d say that they DUNK in milk. Get my drift?

Some chunks are larger than my thumb. Granted there are some smaller ones, bu you should be able to see below that there aren’t that many (or if you can’t see that, then you’ll have to take my word for it)

Notice the chocolate pieces. That’s a strength of this cereal. Chopped up chunks, regular shaped, and numerous throughout. They add a heavy, denser bite / crisp crack to this cereal, and they retain their flavour (unless you heat up your cereal bowl) in cold milk, since they stay in their solid-state.

The granola stays crunchy in milk. Now you might think that this is so, owing to its heft – which seems to be a way in which cereal manufacturers obtain that characteristic by hiding a “core” which stays crunchy, behind layers of “fodder”. Not so with this one. Somehow or another, the outer coating remains bite-y, not CRUNCHY with a loud “!“, but it still has that ubiquitous biscuit crack to it. How is this achieved? I have no idea. It’s this crunch in milk, with the depth of some REAL chocolate, that ups the texture quotient for this cereal.

Alright. On to taste.

I was surprised to find that the same sweetness from Cascadian Farm’s granola didn’t hit me. That’s right – it wasn’t a cane sugar sweetness here.

Sweetness was held back, kept within bounds possibly of the chocolate pieces. I soon realised: “By George. This one tastes homemade, alright.”

I don’t know how to describe this, but I shall do so by comparing it to the Cascadian Farm granola. The sweetness differenctiated itself like how your Mother’s blueberry muffins are different “sweet” from a Tesco muffin. It was as if no artificial sweeteners were used, let alone considered. It wasn’t a malt-sweetness akin to Honey Stars or Clifford Crunch either.

This was sweetness with an ‘S’, that was melded together with the chocolate component. I can’t say what it is, so I’ll take the exclusionary route:

1) Not aspartame – high tang sweetness
2) Not malty – honey-like, Clifford Crunch, etc.
3) Not straight out white sugar – Frosties, etc.

Maybe the sweetness is similar to Cheerios, though I don’t think many would say Cheerios is sweet.

Whatever the case: get this one. My bar for chocolate granola was raised by Cascadian Farm, now raised again by Back to Nature – crunchy and with REAL chocolate rectangles that were backed up by a… “Motherly” sweetness.

Next we’ll have to see the British varieties, and how they stack up!

-The Exercising Male

Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs

The line between cereal & chocolate/candy is slowly being blurred it seems;; only recently in the UK have we started to see the development, Lion Bar/Crunch cereal from Nestle for example, but over in the States this sort of stuff has been going on for decades, I have here an example for you brought to you courtesy of American Soda, Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs, consisting of Reese’s Peanut Butter & Hershey’s Cocoa to create a cereal containing a mixture of peanut butter and chocolate crunchy corn puffs.

Reeses Peanut Butter Puffs

I wish that peanut butter was as big a “thing” here as it is in America, the endless choice of peanut butter cereals that grace their aisles, ranging from the healthy to the not so healthy, I believe that this is meant to be one of the latter..I mean any cereal based on candy can’t exactly be brimming with goodness and vitality can it, but yet it still seems that General Mills are ensuring that this cereal is Wholegrain guaranteed and fortified with all the essential vitamins and minerals; however these work out at around 400kcal per 100g and around 35g sugar, not the worst offender I’ve seen but still pretty sugary, but I guess when you compare it to the likes of Frosties..weighing in at 37g sugar per 100g..I know what I’d rather be munching on!

Reeses Peanut Butter Puffs

Taking this all into account I guess you’ve gotta view them as more of a treat than a breakfast cereal that you would wake up to every morning to keep you going through out all of the day..and once you’ve got this clear you can begin to fully enjoy just how delicious these little puffs are! So hey ho they may have a lot of sugar in, but they don’t taste too ridiculously sweet…not so cloyingly so that you’re left with that searing throat burn that we all know so well. The chocolate puffs have more of a light milk chocolate flavour rather than anything deep and defying, no where near as strong as anything like Nesquik or Coco Pops etc, with the peanut butter puffs being allowed to take centre stage with all the strong salty sweet flavours of the innards of Reese’s you have come to know and love.

The puffs themselves hold up pretty well in milk; they don’t go too soggy and have a sort of waxy sugary sheen to them that stops them just completely disintegrating and turning into mush; nevertheless they do have a nice give way to them in the milk allowing their flavours to seep in to create our beloved cereal milk, yum! To me this is one of the best aspects of this cereal; not only how delicious it is to eat dry, minus milk, as a sort of popcorn style snacking treat, but also how amazing it is complete with milk and as you slurp down the chocolatey peanut butter milk that remains..who cares about the calories and sugar because it is so totally worth it!

Reeses Peanut Butter Puffs

These are fairly hard to lay your hands on in the UK  but you can order them online at American Soda and wait with anticipation until your delicious peanut butter chocolate cereal arrives…mm!

Cascadian Farm Clifford Crunch

Kids’ Cereal! This box SCREAMs that.

1) Picture of cute-sy dog on front?

—CHECK

2) Stuff about wholegrains and health benefits and fortified ingredients to attracts concerned parents?

—CHECK

Alright. So this IS targeted at kids.

As usual – Cascadian Farms isn’t available in the UK. I got Clifford Crunch off of iHerb (quote QID159 for 5 bucks off!), and thought I’d review it since there weren’t any non-sponsored reviews which I could find.

The obligatory size shot. These are small little bitty things. Clearly meant to fit the mouths of little tykes, clearly meant to be cute-sy in their own way. What amazed me was the shapes – you’ve got triangles, arrow-looking things, circles: honestly? They look like baby or dog biscuits.  4 to a thumbnail shows how truly small these things are. (Excuse the slight purple seen on my fingers – blueberry juice is so very tough to wash off!)

How did they make such small pieces with shapes that even have precise cut-outs in them? Yet another Cereal Manufacturing Marvel!

(akin to those cereals with dual-layered textures to retain inner crunchiness – YES do refer to previous posts for those.)

 

They have this waxy, malted sheen to them – as if they were polished prior to their placement into the bag.

 

Still on texture – the covering leaves some smooth slippery feel to this – as if you’ve got some tapioca pearls (known as sago in Asia) slipping around your mouth. Of course, this only lasts momentarily, before you hit the porous innards.

It’s the covering that’s so different: I don’t know of any cereal that retains its coating without it dissolving into a sugary mix, when plopped in milk. How is that? Body heat from our mouths? We’ll never know, but this waxy sheen serves as a visual spectacle, AND a pleasant “mouth-smooth” device as well. Complex, eh?

 

Taste? One-dimensional. Not that that’s a bad thing, of course. A honey-malty sweetness prevails from start to finish, although its intensity is strongest at the start (presumably from the waxy sugar sheen). This sweetness has a natural tinge to it – and doesn’t taste artificial as if from Aspartame (which has a… “Tang” at the end of the lick).

 

You know what? This reminds me of refined Cheerios.

1 cup = 110kcal. Not bad eh? Not much protein (2g per serving) but that puts it on par with the majority of cereals, and in fact, even into the “healthier” territory that Cheerios dominates for its “1 cup 100 kcal” characteristic.

 

We don’t have a complicated creature here. It’s fairly complex texture-wise, in the waxy sheen, but its taste is simple, satisfying, and wholesome. A wonderful cereal, on its own (if you’ve got a mild sweet tooth), or as a base for another sweeter one.

 

-The Exercising Male