I hit the sample jackpot. A few weeks ago, Nicolette, representative of Bear Naked and Kashi, contacted me and asked if I would like to sample some new granolas. Would I?! Yes! Mere days later I was the happy recipient of a package of crunchy goodies: two bags of Bear Naked granola and a box of Kashi's GoLean Crisp! cereal.
You may remember that I already professed a love for this new Kashi GoLean cereal. You may also be thinking that I free-loaded off poor Nicolette, stealing her cereal freebie without intending to review it. Don't give up on me yet, readers! I confessed to Nicolette that I already reviewed (and enjoyed!) the cereal, and she sent it anyway. Thank you, Nicolette!
Back to the reviews. Upon finding a package of granola sitting on my doorstep, I immediately tested out its contents. Nicolette sent me Bear Naked's two newest granola varieties, Maple Pecan and Peak Flax Oats & Honey. My first thought as I crunched into the Peak granola, complete with dried blueberries, was, "Mmm, pretty good." Then came, "Holy yummaliciousness!!!" when I tried the Maple Pecan. After that I didn't say much because I was in too much ecstasy over the maple and pecan goodness delighting my tastebuds.
Since the above review may be a little vague, I've restructured my initial reactions into coherency for your reading pleasure. I liked the Peak Flax Oats & Honey granola. Crunchy, tasty, low in the empty calories and saturated fats that seem to plague most granolas, it was good, with some decently sized grain clumps (I prefer chunky, clumpy granola). I particularly enjoyed its dried blueberries and other natural ingredients. This granola tasted good. Not amazing. Just good, plain and simple and, while not all that singular, not bad at all.
The Maple Pecan granola was a different story, as you might imagine. I admit that I already really enjoy all things maple, so I suppose that I was predisposed to liking this variety. But the Maple Pecan granola rocked my socks off. It contained pecans lightly glazed in maple syrup, and the grain clusters were perfectly crisp and clumpy, exuding wonderful maple-ness with every chomping bite I took. Plus, as with the Peak granola, the Maple Pecan was also light and natural, not oil or sugar-laden. I don't think I can rave enough about this granola. If I was in a granola-buying mood, this product could very well find itself in my shopping cart. Well done, Bear Naked, well done indeed.
When I emailed Nicolette to thank her for the granola samples, she wrote back with a question -- would I like some more samples? I think you all know how I responded. So once again a package o' goodies made its way to my front door, and I opened it with all the enthusiasm of a child opening her first gift on Christmas day. This new box's contents were almost all from the Kashi Heart to Heart line. There were two cereals (Honey Toasted Oat and Warm Cinnamon Oat), two boxes of whole grain crackers (Original and Roasted Garlic), and two Dark Mocha Almond TLC granola bars. I must admit that I felt a little disappointed with my plunder. I had already tried the two cereals and one of the cracker varieties, and I'm not all that crazy about any of them.
Take the Heart to Heart cereals, for example. While I like the Honey Toasted Oat cereal, I don't favor the Warm Cinnamon Oat. I'm not really sure what I dislike about it, other than it seems to be a step down from the original Heart to Heart cereal instead of an improvement. At least the cereal pieces are still heart-shaped, which makes me happy, but I don't buy food for its looks. In my opinion, these cereals are just not worth their hefty price tags.
As for the crackers, I still had a box of the Roasted Garlic Heart to Hearts in my cupboard that I was slowly working my way through when I received these samples. I normally go gaga for garlic. Just ask the Best Husband Ever -- I put garlic in everything I can! So I figured that the new Heart to Heart cracker variety was a sure thing and bought myself a box. Sadly, I was wrong. I just could not coerce myself to like these. Me, the garlic-lover! This is an unprecedented event. Sorry, Kashi. I wish I could say something different about this product. I really, really wanted to like these crackers -- but didn't.
However, the Original flavor of the crackers redeemed the Heart to Heart brand in my eyes. Unlike their green-tinted garlic counterpart, the Original crackers were quite tasty. I had never tried these before and felt pleasantly surprised. The texture and light saltiness of the Original crackers pleased even the Best Husband Ever. In the hubby's own words (or word, I suppose), the Original Heart to Heart crackers are "eatable." (That's a compliment.)
While the Heart to Heart cereals were just so-so, and the Roasted Garlic crackers a failure to please, the TLC granola bars were darned yummy. The newest TLC bar variety, Dark Mocha Almond, gets oodles of stars in my book. It has a great chocolate/coffee flavor, perfect chewiness, and each bar is topped with mini chocolate chips. For all that goodness, the Dark Mocha Almond snack bar clocks in at 130 calories per bar, with 0.5 grams of saturated fat and 4 grams of fiber. I just finished eating half of one for a mid-morning snack about 45 minutes ago, and it's holding me over until lunch quite deliciously.
Wow, that was a lot of reviewing, wasn't it? Just FYI -- these are my honest opinions, and I'm receiving no endorsement of any kind from Kashi or Bear Naked. In other words, I'm a free agent! And this free agent gives many a thumbs up to Bear Naked's Maple Pecan granola, two thumbs up to the TLC Dark Mocha Almond granola bar, and one thumb each for Bear Naked's Oat & Honey and for Heart to Heart's Original crackers. Thanks again, Nicolette, for the opportunity to taste and type about some of the newest carbalicious options out on the natural foods market!