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BENGUSU’S ULTIMATE CEREAL GUIDE

A friend once told me “first time I ever had muesli, I felt very sorry for horses…“. One thing he didn’t know, if you are too lazy to prepare breakfast, muesli tastes OK. Thank god, Americans turned good-old-healthy European muesli into something called “cereal” which had been promoted for being tasty rather than healthy. I love cereals but while healthy food influencers spend half an hour to prepare a fancy muesli bowl, they make cereals look bad… I stand for cereals! I decided to try different cereals in the US, combining them with oats to make it a bit more nutritious in order to find the optimal combo. Just like those influencers, I mostly went by the book (used a measurement cup when I was not lazy to reach out to kitchen cabinet). Here is my ultimate list. Not gonna start with #15 and make you scroll all the way down for boosting my page completion rate. Time is more precious than cereals.

  1. Post Cocoa Pebbles: Dream of a chocolate lover… Cocoa pebbles paints your milk in brown the second you pour milk in it. I haven’t tasted such an intense chocolate flavor in any other cereal (yet?). It keeps you (me, at least) full for a few hours when you prepare a 290 kcal bowl with oats. You can increase the amount of healthy oats, the flavor is strong enough to make it delicious.
  2. Cascadian Farms Berry Vanilla Puffs: Purple is my color and while strolling in Whole Foods, I knew that I needed to try this one. Cascadian Farm’s Berry Vanilla  Puffs has the flavor of actual berries, nothing like sugar bomb cereals claiming they are “fruit based”. It also seems to be organic and gluten free and other good things (I’ll believe in it). I’m not a fan of berry flavor, e.g. in yoghurt etc., but this one is a must try. I mixed it with different oats and made a bowl of 350-400 kcal.
  3. Trader Joe’s Maple Pecan Granola Cereal: It doesn’t take a genius to guess something with maple flavor would taste good. But Trader Joe’s Maple Pecan Granola Cereal is insanely good. I could not stop myself and finished half of the pack as dry snack (and regretted it, but anyway). The only caveat is, it contains more calories than the similar volume of other cereals. For 440 kcal, you get quite little amount of cereal (like in the picture below) when mixed with oats. It tastes delicious but ends up being more than 500 kcal for my ideal amount of cereal.
  4. 365 Whole Foods Crunchy Cinnamon Squares: As a mainstream cereal that you can find in many different brands, cinnamon gives almost a “noble” flavor to milk (half-sweet, half-spicy) and overall feels healthier (because they add cinnamon to other healthy food, so how bad can it be?). If you don’t like cinnamon then stay away from this one because it does have a strong cinnamon flavor, which I love! Since the cinnamon crunches are big in volume, they also look plenty for only 290 kcal. I ended up mixing it with walnuts and oats later on, which goes very well with cinnamon.
  5. Reese’s Puffs: One thing I’m grateful to American food industry despite all the evil fast food products is peanut butter. Even if you don’t like it, you may still like this one because it has a subtle peanut butter flavor mixed with chocolate. I liked its soft texture too. I didn’t take a picture of the calorie chart but 2/3 cup is 120 kcal, so you end up around 300 kcal for 1 cup of cereal and 1 cup of oats, which looks like plenty in the bowl, tastes great and could keep you full for a few hours.
  6. Nature Chocolate Delight: OK, I realized that some of my picks were not “trashy cereal” but still, there is so much food that is marketed for being healthy, while in fact, it is not. I believe that if something tastes good, it is very likely that it’s not healthy (most of the time). Nature Chocolate Delight looked like something in the middle, an option that tastes really good for the ones who “want to believe they eat healthy”. Since granola is high in calories in low volumes, I found a trick to mix them with rice crisp. It gives a really nice crunch if you mix is with Cocoa Pebbles. Compared to Kind (no.13) Nature’s chocolate granola tastes way better, if you also want to “believe you eat healthy”.
  7. Vanilla – Cherry Cereal from Berkeley Bowl: This one is a bit “hipster”. Berkeley Bowl, a supermarket in Berkeley CA, sells their own cereal by weight. I like cherry flavor a lot and when I saw it there for the first time, decided to give it a shot. Unfortunately, the amount of cherry was rather negligible (the only big piece I had was the one in the picture) however it still had the sour cherry flavor, which I really liked. The vanilla granola is too sweet in order to balance the sour cherry flavor. Overall, it tastes great but I feels too sugary. I still gave it a higher ranking because I liked the idea of getting cereal by weight or creating your own mix from different cereals.
  8. Kashi Go Peanut Butter Crunch: Yet another great option with peanut butter! Kashi Go’s peanut butter crunch tastes as good as Reese’s, it is more crunchy but higher in calories for the same volume of Reese’s since it is more like granola than cereal. I tried mixing Kashi Go with other cereals like cinnamon squares too. Either solo or mixed with other things, it would please any peanut butter lover, and is a go-to option if Reese’s feels just too… you know (trashy).
  9. Familia Swiss Muesli: This is definitely a “healthy” option. Muesli was first invented in Switzerland as a nutritious food served to patients in hospitals. This one I tried is free from processed sugar as well. While following a zero-added-sugar diet, I tried a few “natural” granola options (I was not preparing this guide back then so no photos for that) and this one was the “tastiest” option. Unlike many other brands, you do see a lot of nuts and dried fruits in it. It is great value for money. If you want a “real healthy” option with “actual taste” go for this one.
  10. Weetabix Whole Grain Cereal: My friend Alex, who (I believe) eats healthier than me, recommended this one to me. He even packed 3 pieces for me to try when I visited him in San Francisco and recommended adding honey in it. He told me that 2 pieces is ideal, but I didn’t listen and put it all in the bowl. Given that it is also a very healthy option, I’d say it tastes great with honey. I just didn’t like how soft it gets since I like some crispiness in my cereal.
  11. Post Dunkin’ Cereal Caramel Macchiato: Dunkin has only 2 cereal variants, which made it tempting enough to add at least one in my list. I like caramel a lot, but not the biggest fan of coffee flavor (except in coffee). This one doesn’t have a strong coffee flavor and for some reason, it is only 130 kcal for 1+1/3 cups, which is great. The only thing I didn’t like is the small marshmallow pieces in it, which are a bit sticky and too sweet. I don’t recommend it a lot.
  12. Cheerios Chocolate & Peanut Butter: OK, I think I’m just obsessed with chocolate and peanut butter. Cheerios is my least favorite peanut butter flavored cereal so far. Maybe it’s because it is “naturally flavored” (lol). Anyway, I didn’t find the flavor very strong but the texture is great, it is smooth on the outside but very crispy when you chew. I don’t know if this detail matters a lot though. It’s only 150 kcal for 1 cup. I mixed it with vanilla-berry cereal instead of oats for once, and its flavor was immediately dominated by vanilla-berry. Anyway, peanut butter is never too bad, so if you wanna try it, why not?
  13. Kind Dark Chocolate Clusters: Kind probably has healthy and quality granolas, because despite being chocolate flavored, this one was absolutely not sweet at all, especially compared to Nature Chocolate Delight. Some of the clusters were too big and didn’t dissolve with milk easily, which made it difficult to blend the granola with rice crisps and oats. If you are looking for a healthy granola that would save you from chocolate craving too, this one would not satisfy your sweet tooth, so don’t go for it.
  14. Kellogg’s Apple Jacks: I love green apples. I love cinnamon. This is nothing like either of them. Probably similar to other fruit flavored cereals, such as Fruit Loops, this cereal is purely sugar. Even when you unpack the package, you barely see green cereals that are supposed to have apple flavor. It is 150 kcal for 1+ 1/3 cups, which is similar to most other “trashy” cereals. You could probably just eat oats and rice crisps by adding some sugar in your milk and get the same taste (OK, this was a bit harsh).

For the below 3, I was not preparing this list and therefore do not have pictures but I do remember how they taste. So here is a special note for them.

  1. Chips Ahoy Cookie Crisps: Nice idea and cereals look really cute but it tastes nothing like cookies. I would prefer any of my favorite chocolate or peanut butter cereals over this one.
  2. Trader Joe’s Vanilla Almond Granola: It tastes REALLY GOOD but definitely can not beat maple pecan flavor.
  3. Alpen No Sugar Added Muesli: Compared to Swiss Familia Muesli, it doesn’t contain as many nuts and dried fruits, and therefore doesn’t taste as good.

Do you have any recommendations? Leave them in the comments!

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