Morinaga Choco Flake – Cookies and Cream

Our very first Japanese cereal review. We’ve got a weird one at that. It looks to be an iteration of Cookies and Cream flakes, even with small chunks of black cookies to boot. This was from a Japanese supermarket in Singapore, and cost me S$3.80 (GBP1.90)

For those of us out there who dont quite know what or who Morinaga is, they’re a well-distributed (i.e globally) Japanese brand of confectionery, savoury snacks, ice cream, buns, (i can’t think of any further categories of foodstuff). they make mini chocolate pie puffs called Pie-no-mi, which claim to be masterful 28-layered pastries that taste wonderful after a bout in the microwave. That alone should show you the lengths to which their creativity extends, and the manner in which they exercise culinary-confectionery know-how. Perhaps an exclusionist rendition of their industry segment would work: they make anything that ISN’T the main meal, and which contains some iteration of a sweetener in them.

So we have established that Morinaga is an established snack brand. So the question is: just how far can their cereals go?

Morinaga’s main cereal offering is the Choco flake, which is pretty self-explanatory.  Chocolate cornflakes arent quite as mainstream in the Western markets as they are in Japan and Korea; i’d say that we’re all more familiar with chocolate rice crispies, chocolate cheerios, chocolate puffs, and other odd shapes; but not the typical “cornflake”. The closest we know of would be chocolate frosties; but even then, I guess you could say that isnt really a “chocolate” cereal.

Enough chatter.

Morinaga has gone one step further, with some vanilla ice cream / cookies and cream variant.

The packaging itself is sufficient to convey the target market. In a medium-sized bag (105g), fully-coloured, bright renditions of sugary flakes, large pictures ice cream, and large, large Japanese words. Could we call this the Lady Gaga of packaging in its loudness?

Not so big, not so small either. Almost perfect-sized flakes, if you ask me. As you can see, they’re about the size of Special K flakes. Nothing out of the ordinary, in that sense.

Boy have we got a winner though, when it comes to taste. The sugar coating on each flake is ridiculously thick. Imagine something with a solid layer of sugar on each side of each flake. Not just that; this doesnt dissolve in milk to give you some sugary syrup a la Fruit Pebbles. These hold their own as nuggets of flaki-sugariness.

Gosh i have difficulty even describing it. It’s THAT unreal.

A blitzkrieg of sugar of the most simple variety (ie white, refined sugar) culminating in the bits of (what’s meant to be) Oreo cookies that adorn every, single, flake. They are so common that instead of hoping to bite into a cookie piece (as is the case with other food products which feature co-stars);

Morinaga blesses you with an abundance of cookie chunks. That said, the cookie chunks werent fantastic tasting. They had a mild cocoa kick to them, but which doesn’t hit you the way Oreos do.

These traits make this a snack that can hold its own even when eaten “dry”. It’s a delight that does not need milk as a “supporting cast”.

That said, the snack is way too sweet for “normal” people. The entire 105g bag had 455kcal in it, and it measured out to a 2 cup serving. Gosh. That’s quite a punch in each tablespoon of cereal (1 cup contains 15 tbsp)

Hence, it’s 227kcal / 1 cup / 52.5g, which is pretty darn calorie-dense for a flake cereal.

 

All in all, this has that level of sugary dryness that Fruity Pebbles have. Certainly it unhealthy, and too sweet; but hey – my problem is that i have a serious sweet tooth.

Which is why i loved this snack/cereal.

I don’t even know how to classify it.

-The Exercising Male

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Kara’s Chocolate Coconut Milk

It has been quite some time since we reviewed any “non-dairy” milks as part of our on growing cereal milk orientated reviews – I mean come on you want the best to top your tasty breakfast cereal or midday snack!

I remember as a child absolutely adoring chocolate milk and chocolate milkshakes, I could quite happily glug back pints of the stuff, unfortunately however with maturity also comes knowing about how unhealthy these treats can be, loaded with sugar and fat its not the type of stuff that I’d want to drink or pour on my cereal on a regular basis.

This is where Kara’s Chocolate Coconut Milk comes in; although it still obviously has more calories etc in it than in regular milk it is certainly a “healthier” version of some chocolate milks that you may be used to – with 61kcal per 100ml, 11g carbs and 3.6g fat it’s not the worst I’ve seen, plus it has all the healthy fats from the coconut, which seems to be popping up more and more as a new health food recently!

It isn’t a particularly thick chocolate milk, so if you are used to the likes of Frijj milk and other thicker milkshake like drinks then you may be slightly disappointed as like Kara’s regular Coconut Milk it is quite thin and has a slight watery feel to it on the tongue; certainly not thick and luxurious tasting.

Kara's Chocolate Coconut Milk

I decided to try this both as a drink and on a plain sort of cereal such as regular granola. Pouring myself a glass full of the chocolate substance and taking a whiff of it, it immediately reminded me of the cereal milk that Nesquik leaves behind when you’ve had a bowl full of it. This was reinforced when I took a slurp of it – infact it tastes pretty much identical to Nesquik cereal milk! Less sweet than Coco Pops cereal milk, with a deeper, richer cocoa flavour and not overly sweet whatsoever – infact verging on slightly bitter, more as if it were a finer dark chocolate than a sweet commercial milk!

I probably wouldn’t drink this just as a regular drink – it’s not the type of milk I’d want to take a drink out of the carton from; it doesn’t have that refreshing nor indulgent feel to it. However poured on top of cereal it made a nice change to regular milk and added a richer element to a more plain type of cereal. I imagine that it would also work really nice in oatmeal or overnight oats to make a delicious rich chocolate oat treat.

When compared with regular dairy chocolate milks I would probably have to take the dairy version over this as unfortunately I didn’t find it as appetising; nevertheless if you are lactose intolerant/vegan and are still looking to enjoy all the goodness of chocolate milk it’s still a good offering.

Kara’s Chocolate Coconut Milk
per 100 ml

61 kcal
0.6g protein
11g carbohydrates (8g sugar)
3.6g fat (1.9g saturates, 1.6g MCFA’s)
0.5g fibre

Bokomo Nature’s Source BeneFIT – Mixed Berry

Well, that was a long while away from the blog.

Apologies –  shuttling between Malaysia, and Singapore, and as an Intern in both locations, leaves barely enough time for oneself, let alone writing cereal reviews.

What have we today?

Muesli from Bokomo, which is being marketed as a healthier granola (by virtue of “Benefit”)

One word should convey the review: “Spartan”.

Bokomo is a company from South Africa, and dabbles in the breakfast cereal, processed grains, and hot drinks segments. They’ve got a pretty “medieval” style in their logo: the font gives Bokomo some ancient permance (note the “platformed” letters, with protrusions at the base and top of each alphabet)

The cereal box art is oddly sparse as well. It seems as if there was no digital touch-up done; on the photos of the cereal, such that all we’ve got is a picture of a bowl of cereal on a background. No funny mascots, nothing.

Clearly not targeting kids or teens or youths or adults who enjoy zesty packaging.

I wonder though: perhaps some might choose this cereal over others BECAUSE of the Spartan packaging; since it gives the idea of the “natural” / “healthy” / “less processed” choice over the other colourful sugary cereals.

The cereal in the box is equally spartan – raisins, some pittance of “mixed berries” grain, and some minor clusters here and there. The raisins aren’t the plump sort you get from expensive(ish) mueslies like Dorset; these raisins are smaller, shrunken, more like Alpen’s raisins. I even had some “dud” raisins (or were they berries??) which were way too dry to be described as anything other than a “burnt-out raisin” which came forth as a dull mass that you chew. Hoping to see some freeze dried berries? Dream on. I only recall biting into two or three dried cranberries. The rest were probably the “duds” mentioned above.

The bite that this cereal produces, primarily through its clusters, is a decent one, substantial, and more-ish. I was surprised that I enjoyed nibbling on the broken chunks / individual pieces of oats, when eating my platter of chocolate at night, as they gave a neutral yet wholesome flavour.

In milk? Plain. Exactly the same as eating it dry. It’s like a poached chicken breast. It tastes the same in soup, and the same when eaten plain. Soaking it in something does not change the texture, or taste of it.

I’ve warned you though; don’t expect much in the way of “crispy”, or “clusters” here. The largest “cluster” was the size of the nail on my pinky (my hands are small too), so it dwarfs in comparison to the large granola chunks that the more sinful cereals have.

I mean, look at this. They look absolutely boring and normal. No quirks about it – no large chunks of clusters, no odd rice krispies or nut pieces. 

The taste was plain – just as spartan as visuals and box art. The actual grain bits / cluster-remnants taste of lightly sweetened oats, albeit w/ some molasses added to bind them together. There’s also some fruit-juice sweetness detected.
The raisins are odd, poorly executed creatures; as mentioned above, the “burnt-out” raisins weren’t just a dull chewy mass, but left a bitter aftertaste as well.

Why, why do “healthy granolas” always fail? Has the bar which the “sinful” granolas have set, been set too high? Is it a standard that “healthi-fied” ingredients cannot achieve?

Either that, or I simply haven’t been exposed to any REALLY good healthy granolas.

Or, Bokomo’s Nature’s Source Benefit muesli has just failed, horribly.

The recommended serving size is a 1/4 cup, 30g, and that’s pretty dismal.

TYPICAL NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION PER DRY PRODUCT
1 Serving = 30g = 75ml
Nutrients  Per serving %NRV*
Energy (kJ)431
Protein (g)3.3 6
Glycaemic carbohydrate (g) 14
of which sugars (g)  4.8
Total fat (g)  3.2
of which monounsaturated (g) 1.2
of which polyunsaturated (g) 0.8
of which saturated (g) 1.1
of which trans (g) <<0.1
Cholestrol (mg) <1 <1
Total dietary fibre** (g) 3.9
Sodium (mg) 84
What I usually do with this cereal is to mix it with some other lighter, crispier grain (such as… Cheerios, or Rice Pops), so that the dense bite is complemented with some puffier exuberance.

That, I find, is the only way to eat Bokomo’s Nature’s Source BeneFIT with something else which is TRULY “light and crispy”, to offset its dense bite.

-The Exercising Male

Banana Nut Cheerios

Ah Cheerios; “so much goodness in those little Os” apparently, yet the original variety I find to be fairly displeasing, not particularly appetising and with not the best of nutritionals compared to other “healthier” cereals, I rarely find myself striding home with a big box full of things. However in the U.S. of course everything is always bigger and better and the Cheerios market is no exception with various different flavours to choose from! Although not being a huge fan of regular Cheerios I just knew that I had to sample one of the wonderful varieties the U.S. market had to offer.

Banana Nut Cheerios

Looking through the supermarket aisle I decided upon “Banana Nut”; I rarely have the chance to sample banana flavoured cereals back home, other than the odd occasional instant oatmeal, so I knew that this was the one that I had to try!

It seems to be that, looking at the packaging, this is once again marketed as a “healthier” cereal to appeal to those that want something “nutritious” for breakfast but aren’t too keen on a bowlful of bran what with “wholegrain” and “flavoured with REAL banana”. However marketing, as we all know, can be deceiving and looking at the nutritionals of these they actually weigh in at a whopping 32g of sugar per 100g! Maybe not the healthiest choice after all.

Banana Nut Cheerios

Unlike other more calorific cereals – granola etc, the good thing about these Cheerios is that despite their higher sugar levels they are actually pretty light, so although you may pour yourself a large bowlful they’ll probably only end up weighing in at around 30-40g and leave you feeling as if you’ve had a decent portion despite minimal calories.

Banana Nut Cheerios

Anyway enough about the nutritionals! How do these taste? Well actually they are quite nice; the banana flavour is fairly authentic and real tasting and don’t worry there is no horrific artificial aftertaste burn to be had here! It is pleasantly sweet and mixes nicely with the well known oaty corny flavour of the standard Cheerio with a slight nutty background flavour element to be experienced.

They hold up pretty much the same as regular Cheerios in milk; staying crunchy/firm for a reasonable amount of time whilst the outside slowly softens up leaving a faint banana flavour in the milk – unfortunately the cereal milk left in the bowl isn’t ground-breaking, it’s lightly flavoured of banana but certainly nothing to write home about, I wouldn’t wanna buy a carton full of the stuff!

Banana Nut Cheerios

I ended up eating the rest of this box of Banana Nut Cheerios as I would the standard ones; either as a yoghurt topper or mixed in with other bits n bobs. I don’t know what it is about Cheerios but they never really appeal to me to have as a full bowl of cereal , I guess I just don’t find them exciting enough. Never mind, they were nice to try.

Banana Nut Cheerios
per 100g

357kcals
3.6g protein
85g carbs (32g sugar)
3.6g fat (0g saturates)
7g fibre

Nestle Orange Coco Shreddies

Coco Shreddies, ah, just the thought of them reminds me of my childhood; as a small child they were my favourite go-to treat cereal. There was something oh so delicious about tucking into a warm bowl full of them on a cold winter’s morning before I was sent packing to school with my tummy full of comforting chocolate cereal goodness. Despite Shreddies being one of the major cereals in the UK they very rarely update the varieties so I was pleased to see that something new had eventually hit the market in the form of this Limited Edition Orange Coco Shreddies.

Nestle Orange Coco Shreddies

I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like these as much as the original Coco Shreddies variety; although I am partial to orange flavoured things here and there I wouldn’t leap for excitement at the prospect at the idea of a bowl full of these, but of course, for cereal reviewing purposes I was willing to try them out.

For all you guys out there that like to eat your Shreddies cold I tried them out this way first to see how they fared up (even though I pretty much only ever eat mine warm); the orange flavour wasn’t too overpowering and added a nice refreshing tang to the light chocolate flavour that is usually prevalent. Like regular Shreddies these held up pretty well in milk thanks to their woven structure..”knitted by nanas” and all that razzmatazz, but softened enough to help leak some of their cocoa orange goodness into the cereal milk below.

Nestle Orange Coco Shreddies

Sipping the chocolate orange milk it was deliciously flavourful; if any of you have experienced the Frijj chocolate orange milkshake I can say that it pretty much tasted exactly like that, albeit just a tiny bit thinner due to me using skimmed milk, and it obviously not having thickeners in it; but perfect for any chocolate orange lovers!

Now how did it fair when I ate it “myyyy wayyy?”, as Frank Sinatra so wonderfully sang. Well it was even better, heating it up in the microwave until the Shreddies had started to lose their shape slightly seemed to intensify the flavour; the chocolate/cocoa taste was stronger the orange more refreshing and adding a nice fruity tang and the heat from the cereal added that all important comforting factor that we Brits so often need on many a cold morning!

Nestle Orange Coco Shreddies

Although I wouldn’t rate these over the classic Coco Shreddies I would still say these are pretty good, thankfully they aren’t too sweet and the orange flavour isn’t artificial tasting whatsoever, in fact it’s got quite a natural taste to it, if you see these in your local supermarket and you’re a fan of the classic Coco Shreddies then I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to pick these up but I highly recommend that you try them warm, they just make the experience a whole lot better.

Nestle Orange Coco Shreddies

per 100g
374kcal
8.5g protein
76.2g carbs (28.9g sugar)
2g fat (0.7g saturates)
0.63g salt
8.6g fibre

Hubbard’s Big Bugs n’ Mud – Chocolate Clusters Cereal

Another chocolate-themed cereal. I hope the readers don’t hate me for this, but how do you divorce your favourite treat from breakfast? Ok maybe we could say that this one’s slightly different from the rest – the name itself is kinda gross: “bugs”, “mud”. Ah well.

Hubbard’s is an established cereal brand in Australia, and New Zealand. I was able to get a hold of it in the expat / fairly upmarket grocery store here in Kuala Lumpur. It’s priced lower than the American cereals (proximity, perhaps?) Though it’s… Just as tasty.

 

Something I’ve realised when it comes to box art: it differs from country to country, according to the origin of the brand. American brands, I’d say we’re familiar with. Mascots, creatures like Tony the Tiger, Cap’n Crunch, with separate, non-generic identities adorn american cereal packages. I’ve found that Hubbard’s and Nestle use more general characters, unnamed things to represent the image, relying on colour and little else to convey their brand.

Big Bugs n’ Mud from Hubbard’s uses a crocodile, and other background entities to convey its branding. I can’t quite draw a direct relationship between the crocodile and the nature of the cereal, other than jaws + crunch. Then again, what the heck does a tiger have to do with Frosties?

(C.f. read The Great American Cereal Book for some info on this. It’s a lovely book for all cereal lovers!)

Clusters. Well, that’s what this cereal claims to be anyway. The cereal bag was filled with broken chunks, problem being that each chunk was small – the largest, about the size of your thumbnail. I guess these qualify as “clusters” when you compare them to Honey Bunches of Oats, with similar clusters. But boy was I hoping for hefty chunks. I thought “Big Bugs” meant Beetle sized pieces. I wasn’t sure whether to fault the importer / distributor (poor shipping methods), or to fault Hubbards (truly small clusters) – but what might be useful to note is that the clusters are awfully fragile: even lifting one could cause it to crumble.

They’re crunchy alright. Light, puffed wheat, rice, and barley tossed in a cocoa compound, giving it that “dried mud” look. I guess it’s quite hard to NOT be crunchy if you’re puffed, especially in air-tight packaging. I liked the bite. It was refreshing, and it stayed like that in milk for the entire duration of the cereal experience, without going soft and putrid.

I also liked the fact that the variety of grains was discernible: puffed rice grains were intact, long; puffed wheat was pillowy, as if biting into a pocket of air.

Maybe that aspect of the cereal could be seen to be analogous to… The “Big Bugs”, a variety of bugs in your cereal. How appetizing.

On to taste. Off the cuff – I had expected myself to be dismissing Big Bugs n’ Mud cereal right now, for being “overly sweet in a Cocopops” way. Surprise surprise. It was lacking in chocolatey-sweetness to the extent that I wouldn’t even say it was sweet, but rather, that it had a “tinge / touch / morsel / nibble” of sugar, juuust enough to give it some flavour.

In short – it’s pretty tasteless, for something which calls itself “chocolatey clusters”.

That could be forgiven if the cereal had some darker, mature chocolate notes. But this had none of those characteristics, and only had its “wheaty / grainy” taste, that comes with having a grain base.

Problem with the above? The less-sweet motif doesn’t quite match up with its nutritionals.

You get 160kcal for a 2/3 cup serving, which isn’t much. You could eat a similar amount of some sweeter granolas for that. Protein content isn’t particularly high either, less than 4g in that serving. You get more from a bowl of Bran, or Special K.

Well – to end off: i have to insert this picture – all my reviews thus far have it.

 

The Thumb Shot.

This cereal was boring, other than for the crunchy variety of grains. Not very “chocolatey” at all. Guess those of us not from Australia and New Zealand aren’t missing out on much, from this offering by Hubbard’s then.

-The Exercising Male

 

Kelloggs Special Edition Crunchy Nut Yoghurt, Cranberry & Almond

Nothing gets a grocery store lovers blood pumping more than the sign of something new or special edition to excite our taste buds with; something that just has to be snapped up immediately to try due to the fact that it could be cruelly taken off our shelves at any moment..banished to only a name on Wikipedia taunting us of past editions that we may have missed out on.

Crunchy Nut Yoghurt, Cranberry & Almond

Do not fear though I managed to get my hands on this new Kelloggs Special Edition Crunchy Nut Yoghurt, Cranberry & Almond (wow that was a mouthful) in my local Asda store; standing out from the usual yellow box of Crunchy Nut this immediately stood out to me appropriately coloured a deep red with the usual overflowing bowl of tasty looking honey & nut cornflakes.

This version, however, doesn’t just have the usual honey nut cornflakes, no no, there’s also the edition of yoghurt coated flakes, dried cranberries and sliced almonds. I absolutely hate it when cereals boast these additional add ins and then, when you come to pouring yourself a bowl they seem to be few and far between..this I can safely say..is not experienced here.

There are really good amounts of not only yoghurt flakes, but tangy satisfying dried cranberries..and huge..yes huge almond slices! This certainly isn’t a cereal that has skimped on the nuts..you’ll certainly get your satisfying nutty fix here, not only in the honey nut flakes but in these delicious slivers of almond.

Crunchy Nut Yoghurt, Cranberry & Almond

If the original Crunchy Nut is tasty then this is amazing! Not only do you get the sweet flavour from the cornflakes but a wonderful fruity acidic tang from the dried cranberry pieces, a sense of creaminess from the yoghurt flakes and added crunch and “nuttiness” from the almond slivers, heaven in a cereal bowl.

And how do these compare to the original Crunchy Nut in the cereal milk department? Well the additional add ins don’t really contribute..like the Original Crunchy Nut the honey nut cornflakes slowly break down in the milk and soften slightly, yet never getting too soggy thanks to the sugar coating..and what is left is a flavoursome sweet honey nut milk that is ready to be slurped down.

Crunchy Nut Yoghurt, Cranberry & Almond

The only downside I would say is the nutritionals of this cereal, it certainly isn’t one for the healthy conscious with a whopping 37g of sugar and 422 kcal per 100g; but as a treat now and then it is a perfect cereal to satisfy any sweet tooth you may have.
All I can say is..if you love Crunchy Nut then I would snap up a box of this before its too late and this Special Edition is taken off the shelves.

Crunchy Nut Special Edition Yoghurt, Cranberry & Almond

per 100g
422 kcal
7g protein
77g carbs (37g sugar)
9g fat (2.5g saturates)
0.63g salt
2.5g fibre

Sweetkiss Mini Crunch Mocha Cream Filled Cereal

This is about as “local” as it gets: this cereal is not only from a Malaysian brand, but it was also manufactured in an obscure province in Malaysia. Sweetkiss is known within the confectionery industry here as an “imitator”. Walk into any discount supermarket and you’ll find that it has imitations of all the major products by the confectionery giants. (i’ve spent some time recently in a large confectionery company, and its employees revealed this nugget of information – Sweetkiss prices their imitations at almost half the price of the originals)

What kind of imitations? You’ve got Sweetkiss’ version of Nestle’s Kit Kat, which they have named 2Finger; they’ve got a version of Nabisco’s Oreos (which aren’t even named, but are coloured similarly)

And – today we’ve got their version of chocolate-filled breakfast cereal. What most of us are familiar with in the UK and US as Kellogg’s Krave, or Tesco’s Pillows (reviewed here); or in France, as Kellogg’s Tresor. In Malaysia, however, CADBURY – yes, CADBURY – has their version of this snack, which they’ve named “Cadbury Bytes”. Bytes are marketed as a snack, and not a cereal, and are sold in small 40g, or 80g packs.

Image

The imitation by Sweetkiss has been similarly marketed as a snack, akin to crisps, in an 80g pack. Below you’ll see what the pack is like; and, perhaps of interest to you, would be how these packs are placed on the confectionery isle, a “hybrid” product offering somewhere between chocolates and biscuits / wafers.

Sweetkiss Mini Crunch Mocha Cream Filled Cereal: large, thin rectangles, of some cereal shell, supposedly containing “mocha cream”. I say “supposedly”, because this “cream” is actually a compound chocolate (or mockolate, as some may prefer to say).

 

From the pictures below, i think we can conclude three things:

1) The colour of these things is just horrible. Cardboard-like, dull; Where’s the light brown we all know and love, and which we associate with a “wholemeal” / healthy / cereal-grain product? Clearly, Sweetkiss didn’t think of this.

2) How flat. Ugly. Not plump like Krave or Tresor. (although those cereals may be plump but empty, as we’d seen in the Tesco pillows)

3) Awful innards that look more like a powdery compound, than a “mocha cream”

Of course, the old saying goes – “one should not judge a book by its cover”. The sad thing is, that from here, everything is just plain bad.

It wasn’t crunchy in a “fresh” way, like cornflakes or branflakes. The crunch was akin to a Loacker / Quadratini wafer – a denser crunch, and not light at all. I did not feel refreshed from biting into this. Perhaps that could have been the intention of the manufacturers, since Sweetkiss Mini Crunch IS packaged as a confectionery snack, and not as a breakfast cereal. Even then, even IF the dense crunch satisfies as a snack, I wouldn’t be munching on this Mini Crunch product, on account of its taste.

The mocha cream was terrible. It was artificial, just a simple “sugar”-sweetness, and lacked the two characteristics of a good “mocha’ or “cappuccino” flavour.

Mocha = Chocolate + Coffee

Cappuccino = Milk Foam + Coffee

In this snack, the “Coffee” element was lacking. Where was the espresso aroma? Where was the (sometimes) woodsy / oaksy depth of a PROPER coffee? I think my standards are too high here, however, since i drink espresso everyday, and the local coffee in Malaysia tends to be brewed from a mixture of Robusta beans and some flour compound (well, something has to give way if a cup of coffee costs 30 pence, right?)

Chocolate? Fail. Compound chocolate, and a poor one at that. The picture isn’t very clear, but trust me – there isn’t any “milk chocolate” used here, and it would be illegal for Sweetkiss to say so. In Malaysia, most local confectionery is compound chocolate (i.e. chocolate-FLAVOURED, and not MILK CHOCOLATE). If the compound chocolate was decent, like those made by Nestle, than that’s ok. But here it was horrid: powdery, an undiscernible melt, lacking in any dairy aromas (even if artificial)

How do you redeem this snack?

Perhaps by virtue of nutritionals, and price.

Nutritionals: There aren’t any available from the website, and all i have is this unfocussed picture here.

In any case, the entire pack (80g) / standardized to 100g contains:
Energy – 366kcal / 458kcal
Total Fat – 16g / 20g
Sat Fat – 7g / 8.1g
Trans Fat – 0g
Carbohydrates – 36g / 45g
of which sugars – 19g / 23g
Dietary Fiber – 0g
Protein – 6g / 7.5g

Not as “bad” as your typical granola, which tends to cross 500kcal / 100g. Here we have 0g of Fiber, surprisingly low levels of sugar, but high levels of fat. I suppose we could be thankful that there isn’t any transfat in this, despite it being the “budget-offering” on the supermarket aisle. Budget offerings, especially in Asia, tend to use cheap substitutes for cocoa butter and palm oil, resorting to hydrogenated fats, which have been proven to have a detrimental effect to our health.

-The Exercising Male

Barbara’s Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins

Barbara’s Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins..a flavour and variety that sounds as if it should be so unhealthy, yet marketed and sold as being “virtuous”, “healthy” and “all natural”. I’ve tried the original Peanut Butter Puffins in the past and I must say I was impressed, their crunchy corn like texture that softens delightfully in milk and with a flavour that tastes so real and authentic, (no awful artificial tang here), I was eager to see how the Chocolate & Peanut Butter variety fared up..I mean really its a combo made in heaven!

Barbara's Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins

Consisting of both chocolate & peanut butter flavour corn squares I’m sure this would appeal not only to children but also to adults and health-conscious folk alike who are looking for a cereal that will not only taste good but not make them feel awful about themselves after they’ve enjoyed a bowl! Tasting both squares dry, without milk, the chocolate flavour isn’t too overpowering with just a light cocoa flavour, not too sweet, but not so strong and intense that it’s going to deter from the nutty flavour the peanut butter corn squares were going to offer.

Barbara's Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins

Tucking into the peanut butter variety it didn’t seem as powerful as it did in the sole Peanut Butter Puffins cereal; nevertheless it was still good, with a delicious natural peanut butter flavour, with a slightly salty sweetened flavour that is so amazingly moreish.

Barbara's Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins

So what about the chocolate+peanut butter + milk? Pouring them all into a bowl and topping it with milk it does make for a tasty start for the morning, or for a snack throughout the day; however I wouldn’t say these were AMAZING. They aren’t the nicest Puffins I’ve tried; when eating them together you get a light cocoa/peanut flavour but these aren’t going to satisfy a huge chocolate hit on a morning and because of the lesser amount of Peanut Butter squares compared to the sole variety they don’t provide enough of a peanut butter hit for me either.

Barbara's Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins

Now I’m not saying these are awful, they are still tasty; the texture is really good, a nice solid crunch with the the outside softening slightly once left in milk, and a tasty peanut butter chocolate treat left at the bottom of your bowl in the form of cereal milk. And heck..these are Chocolate and Peanut Butter flavour yet have pretty good nutritionals with only 367kcal per 100g! I just wish they’d packed a bit more of a flavour punch. Unfortunately you can’t buy these in the UK but you can pick the up from   iherb.

Barbara’s Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins

per 100g

367kcal
80g carbs (20g sugars)
6.7g protein
3.3g fat (0g saturates)
10g fibre

Country Life Organics Chococrunchy Amaranth

An organic cereal produced by a Malaysian company, made in Belgium, and brought across the seas to the supermarkets here. I suppose that makes this the very first review of a “local” cereal, eh?

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Country Life Organics is unheard of overseas: a quick search online reveals zero distributors in the USA and the UK, and no reviews as well. I got this from Village Grocer at Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, which is an upmarket place stocking the very best of foreign grocery favourites (the selection is mind-blowing)

http://www.countryfarmorganics.com/cfo/prod.asp?prodid=692&sltcat=7&cat0=1&cat1=2&cat2=125

The product description goes something like this:
Country of Origin : Belgium
Nutritional Benefits :

– Non GMO, free from additives and other flavouring or colouring.
– Extra crunchiness and distinctive chocolaty sensation.
– Luscious clusters of organic amaranth, oat and wheat flakes coated with organic chocolate and cocoa powders.
– Amaranth is well known for its complete protein profile.
– High in fibre and iron.
– Complex carbohydrates give high energy source.”

Clearly targeted at the “sophisticated healthy-eater-expat” here in Kuala Lumpur, since breakfast cereal isn’t the traditional breakfast which locals eat.

Country Life Organics Chococrunchy Amaranth costs RM14 a box (about 3 pounds). For a price comparison, Chocolate Lucky Charms imported from the States cost RM25, while local Nestle cereals are RM10. So I’d say the cereal in front of us, for all that it touts, is pretty good value-for-money.

We’ve got Amaranth and Cocoa Powder, baked into clusters that resemble granola. For 137kcal/cup, with 4.3g of protein, it’s a decent breakfast choice that should appeal to those of us who bother about cereal nutritionals. The fact that Amaranth is an “IN” supergrain adds to the image of the cereal.

The clusters vary in size, like your average box of granola chunks. Large and small chunks make healthy variation, similar to the points mentioned in the Crunchy Nut Clusters review. The cereal dust in Chococrunchy Amaranth was, however, far superior to your usual dust. Individual Amaranth grains coated in Cocoa, form a Chocolate Soup Porridge that’s so fine yet thick, it feels like a custard in your mouth. Imagine this sludge at the bottom of your bowl, with the hefty chunks above, and you’ve got a winner.

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The effect of this dichotomy in texture is enhanced further if you’ve got some other “staple” cereal you mix this with. For example, Special K flakes, or Cheerios go perfectly between the heavy chunks, and the sludgy bottom, to make one heckuva parfait.

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You could make some chocolate soup, or do as i did, breaking the larger chunks to sprinkle over plain yogurt, for an easy, crunchy dessert.

On to taste. I’d expected a half-baked cocoa kick, much like Nestle Koko Crunch that you get in Asia, or cheapo own-brand Cocoa Krispies overseas. Nope. Deep, woodsy, oak cocoa aromas that reminded me of a heavy hot chocolate I’d had in London at a french bakery.

This is very, very good. I wonder at how they achieved this. The ingredients list doesn’t mention anything special, no artificial sweeteners, or Cocoa from Ghana, or fancy-schmancy chocolate from Van Houten. “Cocoa powder” seems as simple as it gets. I wonder if the secret is that the cereal isn’t heavily sweetened? Or perhaps the amaranth grains were so well toasted that they had a nutty earthiness which I have misattributed to the cocoa aromas.

(On second thought, I think it’s a combination of roasted amaranth + cocoa that yields this mature and earthy result)

I’m impressed by this cocoa-authenticity.

So much so that I have been picking at chunks of this cereal, alongside my daily dark chocolate tastings.

A 9/10 on account of cocoa-ness, crunchy-roasted amaranth, and price.

If you’re in Malaysia, go get some.

-The Exercising Male