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.

INTERLUDE:
(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

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Alpen Raspberry, Apple & Raisin Porridge

Alpen is long known for its various varieties of muesli; however with the popularity of instant quick easy on the go porridge it seems they have branched out to take on Quaker in the instant oatmeal/porridge sector of the cereal aisle. Although I love porridge I have never found an instant oatmeal that I really enjoy, other than a Dorset Cereal Limited Edition Gingerbread variety that I found in London at Christmas time, I never find them as fulfilling or as wholesome as making my own bowl of porridge with big juicy thick oats.

Nevertheless I loved the Raspberry & Apple Alpen Muesli variety, so I thought, hey-ho, why not give it a shot, it was only £1 on special offer in my local supermarket anyway, what could I have to lose?

Alpen Raspberry, Apple & Raisin Porridge<

Opening the box the sachets are the standard instant oatmeal size, and pouring the oats out into the bowl I must say I felt slightly dissatisfied with the amount of oats that seemed to be making up my portion. It looked almost dust like rather than the good wholesome bowl of oats I am used to, I persevered however and decided to add my recommended amount of milk and heat it up in the microwave.

As the microwave dinged and I took out my warm bowl of porridge it did look slightly more satisfying than it did dry, and did fill the bowl to a satisfactory level, my positive feelings changed slightly as I dipped my spoon into the warm oaty breakfast offering, this didn’t taste particularly amazing..I would say..distinctly average.

Alpen Raspberry, Apple & Raisin Porridge

There aren’t many juicy raisins, the raspberry flavour isn’t particularly strong, neither is the apple, and it certainly doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as the muesli. The oats aren’t thick and chewy and satisfying, but weak and mush like, I don’t know whether this is just me, and my dislike for instant oatmeal..but no one seems to be able to do it particularly well yet. This may be a quick and easy option for people in a rush on the go who want to try something a bit different but if you’re a real wholesome oatmeal/porridge lover then I would stick to your normal home cooked offering!

Food For Life : Ezekiel Cinnamon & Raisin

A cereal named after a biblical book/prophet in the Hebrew Bible; that certainly is a new one! With a quote taken from the book itself this is a cereal that certainly markets itself as a virtuous delicious healthy product, good for not only the  body but also the soul : all natural, no preservatives and 100% flourless it is made with organic sprouted whole wheat, malted barley, millet, lentils, soy beans, spelt..and in this particular variety cinnamon, sea salt and raisins.

Ezekiel Cinnamon & Raisin

But what is all of this if the cereal itself doesn’t taste good? For all of those health conscious people out there, myself being one of them, this would certainly be a cereal that I would pick up to at least try due to the nature of it, but if a cereal’s not good I won’t go back to it, no no,…good job this one is delicious!

Ezekiel Cinnamon & Raisin

For any of you that have had Grape Nuts before, the crunchy consistency of it is certainly prevalent here in this cereal from Ezekiel, the same almost tooth breaking crunch that stays ridiculously crunchy even when soaked in milk for what seems like an eternity! However..me being me..I eat this warm! I did try it cold just for reviewing purposes and I can assure you that its delicious, especially with a good splash of creamy soy/almond milk; alas in my opinion its best eaten warmed so the grains absorb all the delicious milk to create an almost chewy grainy bowl of goodness with scrumptious juicy raisins.

Ezekiel Cinnamon & Raisin

The best thing about this though is how good you feel after eating it; it sets you up perfectly for the day without the need for huge quantities of added sugar; infact there is no added sugar in this product at all; so if you’re sick of all the added stuff that seems to be getting shoved into your cereals nowadays and you want to take it back to the pure basics but don’t want to compromise on flavour this is certainly one to go for.

Ezekiel Cinnamon & Raisin

I’m not sure how easily available this is in the US but I got mine from iherb.com  where a wide selection of Ezekiel’s products are available.