Abel and Cole product review: Alara branberry museli

As I've mentioned in the past, I try my best to get the vast majority of my kitchen supplies from Abel and Cole

This is the first cereal I've ever bought from them and I had high hopes as their products are all pretty darn amazing. I'm a muesli fiend, but having an allergy to nuts can make finding a decent muesli quite tricky. It didn't take long to decide to try the Alara branberry variety! It's very reasonably priced at £2.30 for 350g, keeping in mind we're dealing with organic products here.

The only other muesli I have found that has any sort of substance and real flavour is Dorset Cereals 'berries and cherries' variety; which retails at £3.99 for 800g, so that will be my comparison. 

Dorset Cereals berries and cherries ingredients; on website
Alara branberry ingredients

So we can see here that there is a bit of a difference in terms of ingredients, but there are no 'nasties' to be found anywhere, such as E-numbers. However, it is worth noting that some of the fruit in Dorset Cereals seems to have additives of sorts. Dorset cereals also makes a point of advertising their muesli as 50% fruit, but last time I checked - which was just now - adding up all their percentages on the ingredients listed comes to 33.5%, not 51%.. Just sayin'.... Alara states that their muesli contains 31.5% total fruit. 

What about the numbers on the sides of the packaging we're all supposed to be paying more attention to now? Well: 

Alara branberry nutritional info

Dorset Cereals berries and cherries nutritional info; on website

This information is very revealing. If we were to have another look at the Dorset Cereals ingredients we will see that the reason this particular cereal is so high in sugar is due to their use of 'blackcurrant flavoured barley flakes'. They have also 'sweetened' their dried cranberries and blueberries with sugar. 

Sugar, sugar, sugar..... Do these blackcurrant flavoured barley flakes contribute to the 50% fruit content? I certainly hope not. As a customer, if something advertises 50% fruit in my muesli, I expect to see a lot of fruit in my bowl, and not have my brain tricked by additional sugar to make me think "wow this is really fruity" when really it's just sweet enough to make me believe the 50% claim.

Therefore; Alara is the overall winner due to it's high fibre content and vastly lower sugar content. It is also higher in protein, which is always important, and lower in fat but is slightly higher in total calories. 

What does it look like?
Slight fail on my part here.... I don't have any Dorset Cereal left so there's no photographic comparison here, but you can see the muesli on the packaging as there is a window for you to look through to witness the fruity goodness, I'm assuming! 

Taste? There was a big difference, but it's hardly surprising given the lack of additional sugar. I will admit I did miss the variety of barley, wheat and oat flakes as well as the fruit. I'm not sure if it was just bad luck but there was next to no fruit in my serving and it was crying out for more! I did shake the bag around before opening it to try and even things out but maybe not well enough. 

I always use hot water instead of milk - it's a very old habit - but I do think perhaps for this muesli some soya milk would be great. I looooooooove strawberries so I would always want more, but again, to balance out the tastes a bit better, some nice big pieces of strawberry or raspberry would be fantastic. Of course, they don't have to be freeze-dried, you could add your own fresh ones now as they're back in season!

As a breakfast cereal, Alara is definitely the better option if you're looking for an everyday go-to. It's an excellent base for adding your own fruit or mixing with some yogurt. As a 'treat' cereal, if such a thing exists, Dorset Cereals is amazing but the level of sugar has me concerned that eating it everyday is not quite offering you the health benefits it implies. 

I would absolutely love to use Dorset Cereals in baking. I have a feeling they'd make some pretty amazing flapjacks! Yes, I know they make cereal bars! ;)

They both have their pros and cons, but being health-conscious I will be sticking with the lower sugar option if I choose to have muesli for my breakfast!

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