Monday, June 13, 2011

Healthy Starts: Erewhon Cereals

About a week ago, I had an email from Annelies at Attune Foods asking if I’d be interesting in trying some of their products.  I checked out the Attune webpage and found that they’re a company devoted to creating community around good food like whole grain cereals and crackers.  I was familiar with their Uncle Sam cereal (which you can probably find in the super-healthy-bran-cereals section of the breakfast aisle at your favorite grocery store), but I’d never heard of their Erewhon product line. So I told Annelies I’d be happy to try them out and share my reactions.

First things first:  the funky name of the Erewhon products is taken from a late-19th century utopian novel written by Samuel Butler as a critique of Victorian England.  (Erewhon is meant to be Nowhere spelled backwards, in spite of the transposed h and w.) The idea of good food being part of a utopian society certainly makes sense to me (and I’m always up for an obscure literary reference), so I was excited to try both of the samples Annelies sent me.  I received a box of Erehwon Corn Flakes, which looked pretty much like your standard-issue cornflakes when poured into a cereal bowl, and a box of their Rice Twice cereal, which looked  like a slightly more toasty version of Rice Krispies.

I confess that I’m not, in general, a fan of corn flakes–I love the taste, but they have a tendency to turn to mush the minute they’re doused with milk.  So I was pleased to discover that the Erewhon flakes didn’t do that at all.  They started out crunchy and stayed that way through to the bottom of the bowl.  These corn flakes are a little thicker and more substantial than what I’m used to, which probably accounts for the difference in texture.  They aren’t sweet at all, so if you want a little sugar to get you going in the morning, you might want to add a drizzle of honey after you add your milk.  (Corn Chex with honey were The Girl’s favorite breakfast item for years, until she turned into the sort of teenager that doesn’t eat breakfast.)  I’m going to try crushing and using some of these corn flakes as a coating for chicken later this week, because their texture seems well-suited to that use.

Next, we tried the Rice Twice cereal.  I was a little skeptical about this one because, in spite of my best efforts to change my tastebuds, I really don’t like brown rice.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I found myself actually preferring this cereal to the corn flakes.  The name Rice Twice reflects the fact that the cereal includes rice crisps and rice puffs–I’m assuming this accounts for the darker and lighter bits of rice in the cereal, but the texture of each is essentially the same.  Rice Twice is very light, slightly sweet (thanks to a very thin glaze of rice syrup and honey)–and, like the corn flakes, it stands up to milk without getting soggy.  That’s the true test of success for a breakfast cereal, in my book.  I’m going to buy another box of this one and try to come up with a hybrid version of Rice Krispy Treats/granola bars using the brown rice cereal as a base.  If I can get the Foodie children to eat brown rice in any form, I’ll be delighted.

I tried to price check these cereals at my grocery store this morning, but only Uncle Sam cereal was on the shelf, which explains why I was unfamiliar with the Erehwon product line.  But I’ll definitely be asking my local HEB to carry Rice Twice and save me the effort of making a separate trip to Whole Foods.

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