Tesco’s Finest Nut Granola Review

Warning – major grocery chain housebrand ahead. Those who are strongly against purchasing goods from these “big” players, turn away.

Tesco’s Finest Nut Granola – such an average, non-bombastic name.

Let’s attempt the rational review: a cereal review dependent on logic and justification (I’m hoping to draw some relevance to my current degree here; practice some reasoning skills amidst writing this)

I bought this for two reaons, in order of significance:

1) It won a prize in the nation-wide Quality Food Awards 2011: which made me decide, even before leaving my home, that I’d go to Tesco’s to buy this. (Note the blue logo on the top left of the package)

2) I’ve been on a bit of a granola streak lately, so I had some leftovers from the previous weeks to taste and compare this with.

The difference between Tesco’s “Finest” and the regular granolas can be seen in several ways. Price is the thing we jump straight to on the aisle: this costs GBP3 for 500g; while the equivalents from Quaker and Jordan’s cereals are priced at GBP1.99 each.

Then we attempt to justify the price. Finest Granola is sweetened with Tesco’s Finest Honey (boy.) And contains premium nuts such as WHOLE hazelnuts, chopped pecans, sliced almonds, and some pumpkin seeds. The other mid-priced granola brands can dream of whole hazelnuts and pecans; Dorset’s Cereals gives you those, but they’re priced (gulp!) even higher than Finest Granola.

(END logical discourse: you can’t describe taste and texture without being subjective)

I absolutely love the packaging: ziplock bag, useful for retaining freshness. Not to mention that the interior of the bag is lined with aluminium foil. I’m not sure how this helps preserve granola, since there isn’t a specific temperature it has to be stored at, and given the UK’s temperate climate.

Ooh yeah: large chunks, small chunks, pulverized granola bits: you’ve got them all. Medium and minisule coconut shreds too. The textural sensations are quite remarkable, since the chunks are crunchy owing to the well-toasted oats (or, perhaps caramelized sugars); while the coconut shreds are lightly chewy.

The nuts are DEEPLY roasted too (in fact, they remind me of the roasted hazelnuts in Tesco’s Finest Roasted Nuts), where biting into one will reveal an inner “char”. (Darnit I shouldve grabbed a biopsy photo).

So, ok. Crunchy, chewy.

The most crucial element of such granolas which tout a variety of ingredients is how well they meld together. “Cinnamon Granola”, “Chocolate Granola“: these are easy. Just contain the name-sake ingredient in a balanced amount, and you’re safe.

Here though, balanced amounts are needed, but they need to COMPLEMENT each other.

Raw Pumpkin seeds – slight bitterness, yogurty-tang; mental impression of a dense forest.

Roasted hazelnuts – a warm fire; depth of a typical roasted nut.

Coconut – bursts of richness, akin to that of butter, but of a different flavour profile. I have no idea how to describe what “coconut” tastes like.

Pecans – these were the best. Partially roasted to retain the bitterness present in its raw form, yet bearing that crunch to match the textures of the other ingredients.

Honey – couldn’t tell. Tasted like Lyle’s golden syrup, or brown sugar to me; the taste of molasses was prevalent here.

After these descriptions, I wouldn’t say the above flavours “complemented” each other. There’s variety, yes. But it seems as if that’s the ONLY CARD Tesco’s Finest Nut Granola plays. I did not get any distinct flavour that would allow me to recall this granola on a blind test, since it is so dependent on each ingredient.

At 500kcal / 100g, this is hefty. Note that 500g is a small bag – ultimately containing 500 x 5 = 2500kcal (the daily calorie-total recommended for an average man)

I guess I can see how Tesco’s Finest Nut Granola won that award. It’s ingredients are certainly worth the label. However, the chemistry between the ingredients just isn’t there. I’d buy it again though, for the decadent quality alone.

-The Exercising Male


Nature Path Love Crunch Aloha Blend

American granola always seems so much better than the UK varieties; more innovative flavours that never seem to disappoint in terms of satisfying chunks and delicious mix ins. I just knew then, that when one of my family members was going over to the US a month back that I had to say “pretty please” and do my sweetest smile and hope that they would bring me back some cereal I requested.

Thankfully they did and so here I am reviewing one of the delicious morsels that was brought back : Nature Path Love Crunch Aloha Blend.

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I’d tried the Carrot Cake blend before and had fallen in love therefore I was hoping that the Aloha Blend would be equally inspiring;  crunchy granola clusters, toasted coconut, juicy pineapple and huge white chocolate chunks..I mean really what’s not to like?!

I love how huge the clusters are in this granola; there’s certainly no skimping when it comes to the hefty crunchy oat morsels and the white chocolate chunks..all I can say is “wow”, this is the type of  cereal where you just know you’re gonna end up rooting around in the bag to try and find all of the ‘good bits’ and then when you come to pour yourself a bowl..all you’re left with is the oaty clusters!

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The sweet white chocolate, refreshingly juicy pineapple flavours and the earthy toasted coconut create a wonderful mix of flavours that when combined with the granola base just take you away on a tropical taste sensation (I know cheesy or what, but really I can’t express how good a cereal this is).

The granola clusters soften ever so slightly on the outside once popped into milk but still remain a deliciously crisp centre; whilst the milk is flavoured in a perfectly sweet creamy pineapple/coconut flavour..a bit like a non alcoholic pina colada. Wowza!   I know this cereal isn’t particularly cheap in comparison to other granola on the market, I think in the States it is priced around $5.99 for around a 400g bag which is pretty hefty; however if you want a special treat it is definitely worth it. It’s probably a good thing I can’t get my hands on it more easily or else I’m pretty sure both my waistline and purse would be suffering!

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Nature’s Path Love Crunch Aloha Blend
per 100g
67g carbs (20g sugar)
7g protein
23g fat (7g saturates)
7g fibre

Mark’s & Spencer’s Summer Berries Granola

One of the main British brand-names in the market (I almost started with “the epitomy of..”, but realized there was Waitrose, Harrods, and many more which my ignorant self probably won’t be able to name), Marks and Spencer, or more affectionately known as M&S, doesn’t offer much of a cereal range. Pretty much the same cereals are available here in the UK as those I recall from my early teens, visiting an M&S in Singapore. Those of you in the know will have had the all-too-familar Marks & Spencer’s Triple Chocolate Crunch, Summer Berries Flakes, and their range of instant porridges.

Today we’ve got Summer Berries Granola, sold in a bag form. I actually like the Artwork on this. It’s got impressions of plants – leaves, ferns, corn crops, etc., with an avant-garde font to boot. Clearly aimed at adults here: I think the font itself needs some deciphering given its medieval hue, as I hope you can see from the picture.

I was surprised when I opened this open-and-reseal-ziplock bag. A fresh, lingering aroma of raisins and cranberries met the nose; and the sight of HUGE, plump raisins caught my eye. Smatterings of cranberries were there as well. Wow.

I retracted that “wow” soon enough. That’s too much fruit. Look at this. How much oat have we got? How many oat crumbles do you count?

More of a muesli than a granola then, since we’ve got more oat crumbs then huge granola chunks (which we all know we love and adore for that hefty bite). Furthermore, on a closer inspection, I’d realized that the initial impression of “too much fruit” was aided by the small crumb size. The large raisins and cranberries had settled at the top: the little oat crumbs gone to the bottom. That meant that some shaking had to be done.

Let’s get down to it.

As expected, the texture was gritty, with a chew of a dense, voluptuous raisin in EVERY bite. I actually liked that. Most wouldn’t like so many raisins in their granola or muesli; but note that these are LARGE, JUMBO raisins we’re talking about, so the chew fills your mouth with a burst of jelly and flavour. The cranberries weren’t so amazing though.

Then, a surprise. Some seeds; some grit, some distinct sour-berries. Ah! Dehydrated strawberry pieces. So small that they were mere red specks next to the rest of the fruits. These were impressive – sharp, clear, piercing.

(I can’t help but descend into a discussion on taste now; the texture of this cereal melds so well with the fruity bursts)

Yes, I couldn’t help thinking “strawberries & cream” when the bursts of strawberry came through the milk. With the oat chunks imparting a “flapjack” aroma (without the butter-taste; just sweet oats) to this, it was like having a strawberries & cream tart.

A pity there weren’t that many strawberry bits. I guess we could go the same way to say that we had a “Raisin cream explosion”, but that just isn’t the same.

The fruitiness of this granola got to me. Summer Berries indeed.

The oat crumble was bad on the textural note: minor chunks barely matching my thumbnail, with small crumbs making most of the bag. The saving grace is that the aromas of oat were fresh: each oat grain had a flavour on its own that was not dependent on some lame-duck sugar syrup, but (wheaty?) goodness which lingered in the mouth to round off a wholesome, breakfast finish.

I was impressed with the nutritionals, initially. At 370kcal/100g it’s much less calorific than your typical granolas. However on further research / inspection, I realized that could be attributed to the high fruit content: 33% fruit, hence almost akin to a typical high-fruit muesli. (Compare Alpen’s no-sugar muesli, and Dorset Cereal’s high-fruit varieties). Not much protein at 9g /100g, as expected. It’s fruit, after all.

This one’s a winner, in my book. Even though the oat crumbles failed size-wise, we have a truly “mature” breakfast granola here. The fruit flavours come through nicely – distinct, crisp strawberry and dense, deep raisins: and these match the flat-ish oat depth as a canvas.

Oh; did I mention that it goes well with milk too?

-The Exercising Male

Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Clusters Milk Chocolate Curls Review

I’m not sure how to classify this one –
a) a typical breakfast cereal? a la breakfast flakes, weetabix, etc.
b) A granola / muesli / toasted grain variant?

Kellogg’s has thrown this dilemma my way, by introducing Crunchy Nut Clusters. Crunchy Nut is your “typical” breakfast flake, with honey-oated flakes, and nuts embedded on them. When you introduce the “clusters” aspect, however, you then get something akin to granola. This granola component is exemplified even further by the addition of rice cripspies to each cluster, and the fact that we have some VERY sizeable chunks, as we shall see below.

Just how sizeable are the chunks? Look at the picture. Varying in sizes, some are HUGE, some are medium, and some are downright minuscule, evidently the “cereal dust” remnants of the clusters. The progression of sizes below may be viewed as inconsistency, on the part of the manufacturers. However, i like to see it as some.. healthy variation.

Healthy variation? You’ve gotta be kidding me, you might think. But think about it; the cereal dust: it forms this… sludge with your milk that’s akin to a sweet porridge. So in the other, texturally, you get porridge-y cereal at the bottom, and crunchy clusters on top.

How cool is that? I think i can confidently say that Kellogg’s hadn’t intended this. But hey? Who knew that “budget manufacturing” could add an additional level of depth to this breakfast?

Crispy, crunchy, etc. No surprises eh?? I was reminded very much of Special K Granola (texture-wise though, taste, you’ll see later). It was actually light, despite “Cluster” bringing Hefty Pieces to mind; and refreshingly crunchy. So crunchy that it was almost like popping candy, as you bit through each chunk. The rice crisps and the flakes were totally discernible. The milk chocolate curls were soft, and melted nicely like a typical Cadbury chocolate would. Mind you these chocolate curls are not some pathetic “mockolate”. Chocolate shavings from a proper chocolate bar! Not that crumbly stuff you get in cheap muesli, not that thin, brittle compound you get in protein bars.

I loved the texture in this cereal. Authentic, to its namesake, and light enough that you don’t feel ENGORGED after eating it, like how one sometimes feels after eating half a bowl of luxury / gourmet granolas.

So there we have it; we have something which has the mouthfeel of Special K granola – light, excellently crispy, but with the creaminess of chocolate added. Does it taste like Special K granola though? Because if it does, then i think many wouldn’t like it.

I am so glad to say that this cereal TASTES like a luxury granola. It is sweet, with the familiar Crunchy Nut honey taste, (which, by the way, is quite a legitimate one). The Rice Crispies were slightly disappointing, and DID taste of Special K granola, with its artificial, plasticky tang that reminds one of apricot.
What i thought was the most amazing taste was the chocolate. As noted above, it was creamy – REAL chocolate shavings – it TASTES like shavings of chocolate too. Imagine having little bits of heaven in every bite of cereal. Bits of heaven which melt AND deliver that sweet-milk-dairy-cocoa that is your typical supermarket milk chocolate. Hey; i’m glad that we’re getting shavings of chocolate here – something even the luxury granolas sometimes fail to deliver.

I’m amazed. I would say this is the best tasting Kellogg’s cereal i’ve had in the past year, sold at the average supermarket cereal price (2 pounds for a 500g box)

One area where there’s a little “tension” is the fact that it’s 460kcal/100g here, so it’s over the usual “400kcal” threshold. It’s calorie-heavy, this one. I guess those ‘milk chocolate curls’ come at a cost then. A pity the UK serving sizes on the nutrition labels don’t tell you the kcal / cup like in the US; but i’d estimate that a 45g serving (205kcal) gives you a 3/4 cup.

Wonderful cereal. Some might say horrendously irregularly-sized chunks – from knuckle-sized all the way to cereal dust pieces. I thought it was a welcome variation that you could get in your bowl. If you’re in the UK, buy this, and try it.

I had this, and bought this on a whim after a long run where i wanted to reward myself. (even though i’d be away from it for 3 months, as i’m returning home for the Summer)

Absolutely no regrets.

-The Exercising Male

Asda Apple Crumble & Custard Crunch

I often comment on how the UK cereal market isn’t particularly innovative; especially when it comes to granola varieties, they all seem to be the same..fruit & nut, occasionally with the odd chocolate chunk thrown in there. Certainly nothing like the varieties that are available in the States, for example, the delicious Nature’s Path Carrot Cake granola that I managed to get my hands on whilst traveling.


Thankfully it seems that Walmart owned Asda has had some American influence in their cereal department and do a range of granolas..or “crunches” that deviate away from the norm. There are a selection of flavours offered but I simply had to pick up this Apple Crumble & Custard crunch first; with “crispy oat & rice clusters flavoured with cinnamon and blended with apple pieces, white chocolate, custard pieces & shortbread” this sounded delicious, and, on consulting the back of packaging I found that this also contained a small amount pecan nuts dispersed throughout the packet..could this be any better!

I have to take my hat off to Asda in terms of their innovation here, I’m so pleased there is actually something different gracing the granola section of the cereal aisle, and, on consulting the nutritionals, despite how unhealthy this sounds..it actually isn’t! At only 412 kcal per 100g and 20.1g sugar, it is surprisingly a better choice than lots of other granola that you may deem to be healthier.

Asda Apple Crumble & Custard Crunch

The texture is slightly different to normal, it isn’t as hard or as chewy as other granola offerings I’ve tried, and I can see why Asda have given it the name “crunch” as it is more akin to Jordan’s “crunch” varieties of cereal, rather than that of a classic chewy crispy granola; nevertheless it still hits the spot as a good crunchy cluster cereal.

Pouring myself a good bowlful of the stuff I was initially pleased with the good amount of custard pieces, shortbread pieces, apple pieces and pecan nuts..but despite getting through the whole packet of this I never once found a white chocolate chunk! Whether this is just down to the fact that they are easily mistaken for shortbread pieces/custard pieces I’m not too sure as I did some pretty good digging throughout the pack and can be fairly certain that there weren’t many in there!

Nevertheless the flavour is still pretty good..and I guess in a really Apple Crumble & Custard you wouldn’t find white chocolate anyway; there is a lovely background cinnamon flavour that blends well with the delicious fruity apple and strong bourbon vanilla flavour and the freeze dried custard pieces add a delightfully sweet comforting addition; and really who can complain about finding a big good chunky pecan nut in their cereal, with the odd nut here and there providing a welcome nutty edge to your morning bowl of cereal.
Asda Apple Crumble & Custard Crunch

In terms of how this cereal got on with its milky counterpart, it didn’t stay as crunchy or as crisp as you may find some granola does but when comparing it to a “crunch” style granola, it was completely on par; it stayed crunchy for a reasonable amount of time, as did the shortbread pieces, but instead of going chewy/soft as it began to break down in the milk it slightly softened in the middle with a slight exterior crunch.

The best part of this though? That even when your cereal is all gone and you’re just left with the milky remains it tastes amazing..the cereal milk is sweet, cinnamon indulgence with a slight hint of apple and vanilla, so good that you just wish you had a big pint full of the stuff! And at only £1 for a 500g bag this has to be bargain of the century! Kudos Asda!

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

Nature’s Path Love Crunch Carrot Cake Granola

Despite there being quite a large selection of granolas available in the UK, they all seem to be fairly un-inventive, oat clusters with raisins, or some other sort of dried fruit/nuts is normally about as far as it gets, so when I went on a visit to NY and popped into their Wholefoods I was taken aback at the sheer quantity of all these new and exciting products that were tempting my fancy! I pondered and pondered, walking up and down the cereal aisle, taking  boxes, putting them back, trying to work out how possible it would be in me fitting virtually every box of cereal on offer into my case to take back home.

Nature's Path Love Crunch Carrot Cake Granola

In the end I opted that about 6 would be a reasonable amount, this Nature’s Path Love Crunch Carrot Cake Granola was one of them, to be honest, I don’t normally opt for granola that often, unless its something really special, I find that tipping the scale at 400-500kcal per 100g they have to pretty special for me to choose them for breakfast and all I can say is that was most definitely worth the calories!

Consisting of rolled oats and spelt clusters, raisins, pecans, yoghurt chips, dried carrots, freeze dried pineapple and cinnamon; based on ingredients this should, on paper, be everything that a good carrot cake tastes of.  Even typing this review out I can still smell the strongly spiced aroma that is so wonderfully dispersed on opening the packaging; pouring myself a bowl it’s great to see that Nature’s Path haven’t been scrooges when it comes to adding the “different” elements of the granola, with a good amount of raisins, pecans and yogurt pieces (my favourite bit, yum).

Nature's Path Love Crunch Carrot Cake Granola

The likeness to actual carrot cake is superb..infact I would say this is even better than the real thing, I know I would choose a bowlful of this over a slice of carrot cake, any day..anytime! The sweetly spiced crunchy granola, the chewy raisins, the crunchy pecans and the tartness provided by the yoghurt chips in a wonderful likeness to cream cheese frosting just made it superb on every level.

And the milk? Well the milk was turned a flavourful mixture of sweet spices with a tart undertone where the yoghurt pieces had managed to seep some of their flavour out. And the granola? The granola stayed delightfully crunchy throughout with a good exterior give where the clusters had started to soften slightly. A big big thumbs up and a huge smiley face for this delicious cereal..now if only they would bring something out like this onto the cereal aisles back home!

Nature's Path Love Crunch Carrot Cake Granola