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So, when the Foodie Blogroll folks (an ad network of which I am a Part) presented the opportunity to review the Better Oats folks' oatmeal and also get paid for it, I was Dubious. But I signed up because this instant oatmeal seemed a Cut Above other instant oatmeal.
Here's what the Better Oats folks had to say about themselves:
Better Oats® instant oatmeal comes in many delicious varieties: 23 flavors in fact, including RAW Pure & Simple® Pomegranate and MMM... Muffins® Blueberry Muffin. Kids love Better Oats because it's fun and delicious, and parents love it because it is not only nutritious, but also convenient. Better Oats uses up to 35 percent less packaging than traditional instant oatmeal boxes (so there's more room on the pantry shelf), and the pouch doubles as a measuring cup!
Made with 100% whole grain oats and flax seeds, this complete line offers a simple and healthy option when it comes to instant oatmeal. But it's not only a great breakfast (or lunch... or snack...) but also a better ingredient to spice up a cookie or other baked goods.
You've got to try Better Oats. If you've been settling for ordinary oatmeal, then you're in for a treat because Better Oats is just... better! Try us and see for yourself.
I liked the fact that there is less packaging and that it contained flax. Also that they were marketing it as an ingredient and not just as a stand-alone breakfast Item. Plus, they have a YouTube channel, which tells me that they are really trying to reach their consumers. Good for them!
Here's what the Better Oats folks had to say about their product:
Better Oats offers 23 delicious flavors in several lines, including RAW Pure & Simple®, Oat Revolution®, and MMM...Muffins®.
RAW Pure & Simple: RAW Pure & Simple is a better way to eat. We start with the finest quality 100% organic, whole grain oats blended with organic whole grains and seeds, like flax, barley and quinoa, for a wonderfully wholesome and nutritious breakfast. You'll love all four thick, hearty multigrain texture and natural, robust flavors. RAW Pure & Simple is naturally good, straight from Mother Earth.
Oat Revolution: Raise your spoon and join us for an Oat Revolution! It starts with all natural 100% whole grain oats. We then add antioxidants and flax, a good source of Omega-3, and top it all off with a bold shot of flavor. All combine to create delicious oatmeal that keeps its rich, robust flavor all the way to your bowl. Take one bite and start your Oat Revolution!
MMM...Muffins: Everyone loves waking up to hot, fresh muffins for breakfast.MMM...Muffins gives you that same delicious muffin taste you crave in healthy and nutritious 100% whole grain oatmeal. Our thick and hearty oatmeal is also a good source of fiber and omega-3, so it's better than good, it's good for you. Start your day off right with the indulgent taste of real muffin flavor in every bite...mmm.
I also liked the fact that they have an organic line that contains more than just oats. Pretty cool. The Oat Revolution! sounded promising, too. I was Leery of the MMM...Muffins kind because, well, if I want a muffin, I'm just going to eat a muffin.
So, when my box o' oatmeal came in the mail (unlabeled, by the way. I thought it might be a bomb or something), I was still a little On the Fence. I was actually afraid that maybe I wouldn't like any of it and would have to say to the Better Oats folks, "Sorry, but I don't like any of your oatmeal, so I cannot in good conscience share it with my Folks as something Healthy and Tasty."
Here's how Oatmeal-Palooza went down. I made all five flavors. The first two, the MMM...Muffins Oatmeal Raisin and Blueberry, I made with water as the package stated. 1/2 cup in each. I did not---and I don't---use the microwave. I brought the water to a boil over high heat. I added the oatmeal and then simmered it for 90 seconds and let it sit for a few minutes to thicken up and What Not.
I did notice that both of the MMM...Muffins varieties had what appeared to be whole oats. Tons of them. As to the flax, there wasn't a lot of it, but it was in there. Anyway, compared to other instant oatmeal I've seen, this looked pretty much like regular oatmeal. I wonder if they steam the whole oats so they'll reconstitute more quickly? Anyway, huge points for texture.
Unfortunately, after tasting them, the MMM...Muffins kind are Not for Me, I'm afraid. I think it might be the artificial flavoring (to be fair both contain natural flavoring as well). Regardless, I was not a fan of either.
I made the Oat Revolution Apples & Cinnamon kind with all milk. Whole milk. And I turned all Goldilocks-y. That stuff was Just Right. Not too sweet, but with good flavor. Nice texture--whole oats. Enough salt (you know that's a Thing with me, right?), and I ate it All Up. I probably should've made it with water for a Level Playing Field, but in real life, I make oatmeal with milk anyway. Regardless, that stuff was Good. My plan was to make all five flavors and just eat a couple of bites of each, but I kept going back to the Oat Revolution until it was All Gone. Oops.
I had High Hopes for the RAW, Pure&Simple, both Bare and Pomegranate. I made them both with half water/half whole milk. The Bare was very...Bare. But I quite liked it with 2 teaspoons of maple syrup and a wee pinch of salt. The Pomegranate was pretty good--just sweet enough--but I thought perhaps it was a bit Too Pomegranate-y.
I made some of the Bare for The Beloved the next morning. With half water/half milk, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of butter and a little maple syrup. He liked it Quite Well. It's a nice mix of flavors and textures what with the oats and barley and quinoa and flax and What Not in it. Very filling and hearty. And ready in a total of maybe 4 minutes, counting time to bring the liquid to a boil on the stove.
I also sent a packet of the Oat Revolution Apples & Cinnamon home with my next door neighbor who eats oatmeal almost every day. She made it with water and then stirred in some yogurt. She said that it was creamy and delightful and that she enjoyed it.
I actually can see loading up on a few of the flavors we liked and having them available for a quick breakfast. The package really is pretty streamlined so they don't take up much room. The whole Use-The-Packet-As-A-Measuring-Cup-for-the-Water thing is a bit gimmicky, but I guess if you took some of them camping, it would certainly work just fine. At home, I stuck to measuring cups because I figured I'd just end up spilling if I tried to measure the water in the packet. I know my limitations, and I'd've just made a mess.
So then, I figured I'd make something using the Oat Revolution Apples & Cinnamon. After all, it is marketed as an ingredient, not just as a stand-alone breakfast. Apples. Cinnamon. But what else to add? Well, custard of course. Some of my fans on the fan page were Dubious about this plan, but I couldn't stop thinking about warm, apply, oaty, custardy goodness. So I went with it. And I'm glad I did. This stuff was Excellent. Check it out.
- 1 each Granny Smith and Golden Delicious Apple, ¼" dice
- salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons real maple syrup (I used Grade B)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 packets of Oat Revolution Apples & Cinnamon flavor
- 18 oz milk (2¼ cups)
- 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 6 whole eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Place all ingredients in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Cook until apples begin to soften and turn a bit translucent.
- Add the butter and cook for another couple of minutes.
- Taste for seasonings and texture and then set aside.
- Bring 10 oz (1¼ cups) of milk to a boil.
- Add the packets of oatmeal and cook for 90 seconds.
- Pour into a large bowl and add the last 8 oz of milk along with the rest of the ingredients. Whisk well to combine.
- Taste for seasoning.
- Preheat the oven to 325F.
- Bring a kettle of water to a boil and have 2 9" cake pans ready to use as water baths.
- Divide the apples evenly among 8 custard cups (about 2 Tablespoons per cup).
- Divide the custard evenly among the 8 cups (about ⅔ cup per ramekin). Stir frequently since the oats tend to settle and you want them evenly divided among the cups.
- Place the cake pans in the oven and set 4 filled ramekins of custard in each pan. There won't be a lot of room between them, but it's okay.
- Pour hot water into each pan to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven. This custard is fairly soft, but a knife poked into the center of the custard should come out pretty clean. The tops of the custards should also feel pretty firm when you press on them.
- Remove to racks to cool to warm. You can go ahead and serve them, or for a bit firmer custard, you can chill them and then reheat in a warm oven before serving.
So there you have it: my review, which I hope was fair. Because even though I'm getting paid, I will always tell you The Truth as I see it. Plus, a warming, comforting and Really Quite Wonderful dessert that I hope you will enjoy.
Take care, and I hope you have a lovely day.