Happy Jack Granola from Nate’s Naturals

Product Description:

This limited seasonal release sells out at every Connecticut farm market Nate’s Naturals attends. After making granola for over 20 years, they decided to start selling the delicious creations in 2008. An electrical engineer by trade, Nate knows that even the smallest details matter.

Made with organic rolled oats, wheat germ, oat bran, sunflower seeds, honey and a touch of molasses. They then add real pumpkin puree, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie spices. These natural & local ingredients are then baked slowly to toasted perfection.

I received a pouch of this Happy Jack Granola in my October Knoshbox.

Tea Suggestion:

While snacking on this granola right out of the bag, I chose something refreshing to sip along with my snack.  I chose this green tea: Kenya Rift Valley Green Tea from Grey’s Teas because I hoped that the fruit notes of the tea would accent the granola in a beautiful way … brighten the flavors and help coax the pumpkin notes to express themselves.  I was right – the sweet pumpkin notes seemed to really pop! – and I was very pleasantly rewarded.

What I Think:

For the purposes of this review, I tried this granola a few of different ways.  First, I tried it right out of the pouch by the handful.  YUM!  Then, I tried it sprinkled atop some plain, unflavored yogurt, and finally, I tried it as a cereal:  in a bowl with milk.

Generally speaking, I like granola, so I was pretty sure I’d enjoy this offering from Nate’s Naturals.  I didn’t really get a good look at the product or read any information about it until I opened the pouch to try it … so I was surprised to learn that this is a pumpkin granola.  I can’t recall ever trying a pumpkin granola before!

I think I prefer this as a yogurt topping than as a cereal, mostly because I wasn’t really fond of how the pumpkin seeds tasted in the milk.  It was OK as a cereal, but it really was amazing as a yogurt topper.  The tangy notes of the yogurt provided a delicious contrast to the sweetness of the granola, and I loved the different textures:  smooth, creamy yogurt, chewy raisins, crunchy granola … I had purchased this tub of yogurt originally to make smoothies, but I might end up using it all for with this granola before I get a chance to blend a smoothie!

Then again, it is really tasty as a snack, right out of the bag.  It is crunchy but not too hard, and I love the toasty taste.  It is sweet and lightly spiced, and every once in a while, I bite into a cranberry and I get a lovely tart note that sort of brightens it all up.

But what makes this granola truly special is the pumpkin.  Not just pumpkin seeds or pumpkin pie spice, this is made also with pumpkin puree, and you can taste a little bit of pumpkin goodness in every single bite!  It isn’t an overwhelming taste, but it does give a really nice, unique flavor to this granola.

My Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this granola.  It makes an awesome yogurt topper, and it’s quite tasty right out of the bag.  I see that Knoshbox is currently sold out of this granola, which is too bad, because this is delicious … something I’d definitely consider repurchasing!

Toasted Orchard Granola Bars from Nate’s Naturals

Picture from Knoshbox. Click on the pic to go there.

Product Description:

These bars are wheat-free, all-natural and made with local apples from Bishops Orchard in Guilford, Connecticut. The flavors and aromas of the bars will bring back memories of apple picking in the orchard and drinking warm cinnamon apple cider on a cool autumn night.

They’re made with: organic rolled oats, Connecticut wildflower honey, organic oat bran, organic sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, golden raisins, cranberries, canola oil, natural vanilla, organic lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, malt syrup, cardamom, sea salt and ginger.

I received this bar in my October Knoshbox, and they can be purchased on the Knoshbox website for a limited time.

Tea Suggestion:

This granola bar has a lot of flavor on its own, so I didn’t want to choose something that might have a competitive flavor profile.  I chose this High Country black tea blend from Trail Lodge Tea, and it was an ideal choice.  The richness of the tea complimented the sweet, toasty flavors of the granola bar, and the earthy tones of the bar highlighted the tea’s earthier qualities.

What I Think:

When it come to granola bars, I typically prefer the softer variety over the crunchy.  This granola bar seems to fall somewhere in between the two … it’s not as hard as the commercially produced granola bars that you’ll readily find in the grocery stores, it isn’t pressed the way those bars seem to be.  You know what I’m talking about right?  It seems like the ingredients for those granola bars are compacted into a solid, brick-like form that is almost as hard as a brick.   That’s not the case with these bars, You can see all the ingredients, and they don’t appear to be quite as SMOOSHED together as the brick granola bars, but these DO have a certain toothy crunch to them that makes them similar to the crunchy granola bars.

But, what makes them crunchy are the chunks of nuts (I can taste the almonds and especially the pecans!  YUM!) and the toasted oats and sunflower seeds.  The texture is brought on naturally, not by over-processing.

My Final Thoughts:

I love that I can identify each ingredient that is listed in the above list.  I can taste the honey, and the cranberries and each of the spices too!  It’s really a warm and delicious tasting bar – definitely very “Harvest-y” … a perfect granola bar for this time of year (and for the Autumn Harvest themed Knoshbox!)  While I do generally prefer my granola bars to be slightly softer, I like that the crunchiness of this bar comes from the toasted textures of the ingredients.

Overall, this is an enjoyable, hunger-satiating granola bar … and one that I enjoyed enough that I might purchase it again.

Cinnamon Crunch Somersaults from Somersault Snack Co.

Product Description:

Cinnamon Crunch bakes warm cinnamon into our whole wheat dough to create a delightful yet healthy treat. A little sprinkle of sweetness makes this perfect crunchy snack a coffee pairing delight! With just 7g of sugar (that’s 42% less than a granola bar!), this treat is a good-for-you twist on Grandma’s home baked cinnamon rolls.

Learn more about Somsersault Snack Co. on their website.

Tea Suggestion:

With this snack I would recommend something bold like this Mountain Kenya Tea from Mark T. Wendell.  The strong, malty notes would help elevate this snack into a light breakfast food, if you wanted more of a snack than a full meal for breakfast!

What I Think:

These are very tasty.  Much more like a crunchy granola bar than the Salty Pepper Somersaults, these would be very good when one is craving something a little sweet.

I love the basic “nugget” of these Somersaults which is comprised primarily of sunflower seeds.  Snack wise, I find the crunch to be a very satisfying crunch and it’s not only delicious and good for you, but, it also manages to satiate those little hints of hunger that hit me in between meals.

The cinnamon is not an overwhelming flavor in this, it is more like a light sprinkling of cinnamon and maybe just a hint of sugar.  It tastes sweet and mildly warm without being too sweet or spicy.  It is something that I think kids as well as adults could enjoy as a snack.

My Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed both the cinnamon Somersaults as well as the salt and pepper Somersaults, and I could see me wanting to keep both on hand for when I want a snack.  The salt and pepper ones would be perfect when I want something a little spicy and salty, while the cinnamon ones make a great sweet snack that evoke thoughts of a warm cinnamon bun (YUM!)

Michele’s Original Granola from Michele’s Granola

Product Description:

This is the recipe that started it all! A delicious, crispy blend of organic oats, sliced almonds and a touch of pure Madagascar vanilla, this is our bestselling granola.

Try warming it up as your morning oatmeal or crumbling it as a topping for your favorite peach cobbler recipe.

Learn more about Michele’s Granola here.

What I Think:

I’m loving this stuff.  I occasionally purchase granola cereal at the grocery store, and it’s alright, but, this granola from Michele’s blows the grocery store stuff away!  It tastes so fresh and toasty, and it pleasantly crunchy without that hard kind of texture.

It has a very delicious nutty flavor.  It is sweet, but not sticky sweet as if it’s been saturated with honey.  That’s because it hasn’t been.  This has brown sugar, but it doesn’t taste sugary sweet.  It tastes as if it has been lightly sweetened, just enough to give it a pleasing taste without overwhelming the natural goodness of the other ingredients.

And every ingredient is represented in each bite.  I taste the almonds and the sunflowers, I taste the coconut.  It all works together very well.  So delicious right out of the bag, which is how I ate most of my package of this granola.  I did manage to save some for a bowl of cereal, and it makes for a very hearty,  satisfying breakfast.

My Final Thoughts:

This is the best granola I’ve ever tasted.  So incredibly flavorful.  Each individual oat is toasted crisp, and this brings out the deliciously earthy, nutty flavor of it, and really enhances the overall texture, which is light but crunchy.  If you try this, you won’t want to go back to ordinary granola.  There’s just no comparison.