Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Mmm ... so "toasty" :-)
I've always wanted to be a food critic (unfortunately, there aren't many restaurants around here catering to my food preferences, i.e., raw vegan), or perhaps a product reviewer. Thanks to my buddy Jeff from NaturalZing, I've now been given the opportunity to take a fairly new product for a test drive.
I so wish I had this product in my hot little hands before leaving on vacation. But alas, it had to wait until my return.
You see, I'm referring to Lydia's Organics newest raw cereal addition, Vanilla Crunch Cereal (according to Jeff, the line has also added Apricot Sun Cereal, which would have been perfect for watching the sunrise on the beach).
Unfortunately, Lydia's website mentions the fact that to make room for its new flavors (which also include the Lemon Ginger Bar, Figtastic Bar, Cacao Crunch and Fiesta Cracker), as well as to improve the line/streamline production, some of its past products will be making their departure.
"We will be discontinuing our triple pack (4.5 oz) size bars, the 8oz size Savory Trail Mix and we will be ceasing production on the Crystal Manna Bar, Apple Ginger Bar, Apple Fig Bar, Curry Crackers, and Luna Nori Sprinkles. Some of these products are no longer available and others will be phased out as the newer foods are made available in August."
But, that's okay. As long as the company keeps its cereals (as well as its Luna Nori Crackers; I've always liked them in a pinch), it's fine by me.
I actually have fond memories of Lydia's cereal helping me through a beach vacation a few summers ago. I was first introduced to the product line at a little store called Water To Go, not far from the Bay Bridge. I recall stopping by there on the way to Ocean City in hopes of finding some prepared snacks to keep me raw that week.
I picked up some bars and crackers, but was most impressed with the cereal. Perfect for travel, I ate it dry on its own, sprinkled on top of fruit, mashed into a bowl of ripe bananas or drowning in almond milk (lucky me, I had my Magic Bullet along for the ride, as well as some raw almond butter, which makes a quick "milk").
Usually, I would choose the Grainless Apple Cereal or the Berry Good Cereal, which had set themselves apart from many of the raw pack by not adding buckwheat to the mix. So, you can understand my hesitation when Jeff first gave me a bag of the Vanilla Crunch with these ingredients: apples, sprouted sunflower seeds, sprouted buckwheat, coconut, raisins, agave nectar, vanilla.
Don't get me wrong; I'll eat buckwheat groats on occasion, but many of the prepackaged raw cereals are mostly sprouted buckwheat with very little else. To my surprise, this combination cast this seed (yes, it's actually a seed) in a supporting role with coconut as its star (at least in my opinion).
To me, the most predominant flavor (outside of the tender dried apples pieces and plump raisins, which made their way into every bite, like the two scoops of raisins in my childhood Raisin Bran) was the coconut. Although the name suggests a basic vanilla variety, I actually preferred its more complex notes, reminiscent of toasted coconut (must be due to the "toasting" in the dehydrator). Maybe they should have called it "Coconut Crunch Cereal."
My first few bites I tried dry (no fruit or "milk"), as not to mask its true taste and texture. It's good on its own, but I still prefer it in the traditional cereal fashion.
Opting to stick with the apple and coconut theme, I chopped up some Pink Lady apples, added them to my cereal bowl and poured on some coconut milk. Not a bad combination, if I do say so myself. And, since I had to pause a bit for a photo op prior to diving into my bowl of deliciousness, I was impressed at how it absorbed some of the liquid, while still maintaining its "crunch."
Overall, I give this raw convenience product high marks for taste, texture, versatility and shelf life (mine says best if used by 1/11/09). It's even reasonably priced at a little more than $8 for a 16-oz. bag. I'd reconsider the name, but that's just a suggestion :-)