20 February, 2011

Better Oats Oatmeal

I've said it before: I am not really all that fond of oatmeal. When I was a kid, my mother would sometimes make oatmeal for breakfast for us - based on the theory, I guess, that thick gummy porridge-like sludge was Good For You and would Start Your Day Off Right.  Euurgh.  Until a few years ago, I had no use for the stuff except for making oatmeal-raisin cookies.

After I was married, I discovered with horror that Maryanne actually liked oatmeal for breakfast.  Luckily, she didn't  prepare it using the "thick lumpen mass" method my mother was fond of, and over the course of several years I learned to tolerate (though never really enjoy) the groaty gruel.

Until McDonald's came out with their Fruit & Maple Oatmeal, I never thought the stuff could be actually enjoyable. But if nothing else, Micky D's made me realize that a good-quality flavored oatmeal might be more than just tolerable.

And that brings me to the subject of today's review, Better Oats Oatmeal. A relatively new product, the family of oatmeal brands under the Better Oats umbrella caught my eye in the store mostly because of the huge variety of flavor and "mixture" choices available.  Better Oats has oatmeal aimed directly at kids, for example, with their Oat Heads brand (which, by the way, is totally delicious - never thought I'd hear myself saying that) and their Abundance brand, with other whole grains including flax seed, appealing to very health-conscious people.  

There are so many varieties, in fact, that I found it impossible to buy every single variety available.  So, I gathered up a huge armload of varieties I thought would appeal to me and the family and just bought those. I bought something like fifteen boxes of oatmeal (not all of them would fit in the picture above.) For the most part, I was not disappointed.

Before I talk about the various flavors, let me tell you about Better Oats' innovative packaging.  The oats are packaged in single-serving paper pouches.  Each pouch also serves as a measuring cup for water.  Tear the pouch open, empty the oats into a bowl, then use the pouch to measure half a cup of water into the oatmeal.  Microwave the water/oat mixture for a couple minutes, and you're ready to eat.  I should add that emptying the oats into a bowl, adding half a cup of boiling water, and allowing it to sit for a couple minutes (just like making ramen!) also works just fine.  Remember to use a traditional measuring cup, though. The paper pouch doesn't work so well for boiling water.

Anyway, here I am telling you with a completely straight face and no ironic intent that Better Oats really are better oats, and if you're in the market for some pretty awesome oatmeal, I can give you a nudge and say, "Hey, how about some Better Oats?" and not be pulling your chain.

And now, on to a quick list of the flavors and varieties I have actually eaten with my own mouth, along with some quick capsule reviews:

Oat Heads: Maple Syrup and Berry Blast flavors: Funky, colorful packaging attracted me, but it was the actual oatmeal inside that got me hooked. The Maple Syrup flavor (which contains artificial as well as natural flavors) has the perfect texture and taste, just as though there was maple syrup stirred in.  And the Berry Blast contains actual dehydrated berries, not those nasty sugar-starch-flavoring balls that you get in cheap baking mixes, or dyed-and-flavored apple bits.  Both of these varieties are pre-sweetened to appeal to kids, but I didn't find them to be cloying or obnoxious. Actually, I like the berry flavors in Berry Blast so much that it's near the top of my list of favorites.

Product photos by Better Oats.

Oat Revolution Flavors: There are so many of these I can barely keep track.  I wasn't all that crazy about the "Classic" flavor, which is just unadorned oatmeal. But the fruit-flavored varieties, all of which contained real dehydrated fruit, are awesome.  My favorites include Peaches & Cream, Strawberries & Cream, Apple & Cinnamon, and Raisins & Cinnamon, and there are other varieties I haven't gotten around to trying yet, like Maple & Brown Sugar, Cinnamon Roll, and Cinnamon Spice.  I'm fairly confident that the others are going to be just as good, though.

Product photo by Better Oats

Blueberry Muffin and Maple Streusel are the flavors featured in the mmm...Muffins brand.  Both of them are excellent and favorites of Lynnafred, who said that the Blueberry Muffin version tasted just like...well...a blueberry muffin.

Product photo by Better Oats
I could go on and on about Better Oats' lineup, but I really don't have to.  It doesn't matter which one you choose, if you find a flavor that you think you're going to like, you can't lose by choosing it.  The only variety I didn't care for - out of all of the ones I tried - was Raw Pure & Simple Bare.  "Pure", "simple," and "bare" are not really descriptive of the Raw line, since a serving also includes quinoa, barley, wheat, rye, and flaxseed.  One spoonful brought me immediately back to my childhood, sitting at the breakfast table facing down a bowl of nasty oatmeal gruel, every spoonful of sludge triggering a gag reflex.  I really hate porridge and this variety is wicked porridgey.

Product photo by Better Oats

Here in the Western Massachusetts/Northern Connecticut area, you can find Better Oatmeal stuff at many Target and Stop & Shop stores. You can also visit their website and use the provided "store finder" to locate a place near you that sells it.


Better Oats website


Anonymous said...

Wow, I just discovered this product. Raw has become my favorite. I like that it has no added sugar. I add chopped dates to sweeten. However, everyone in my household has their own flavor also.

Lilimonster said...

The berry blast and apples & cinnamon I think are my favorites of the bunch. Just like you, I couldn't resist and bought one of each.

I found them over at Ocean State in Schenectady, but I guess not all stores sell them.

Anonymous said...

Discovered these in Target in Queens, NYC. Usually on sale for $1. Can't beat that!! My current favorite is the mmm...Muffins in Blueberry.

Emmanuel said...

Yeah I really love Better Oats. My local grocery store only carries 4 flavors. I like it for the neat packaging and the taste. I don't feel like I am eating "instant" Oatmeal at all. I love to eat this for breakfast every morning. (tip add a splash of skim milk to the oatmeal as soon as it is zapped. It makes it creamy.) I really love The Blueberry muffin.

Anonymous said...

I absolutly love Better he tioats. Unfortunatly in my area only stop&shop sells it and they have been out all the time. I got my friend hooked as well and i cant wait to buy it again. I like all flavors.