I’m really big on breakfast. I wake up hungry every morning, so missing breakfast isn’t an option. I have to admit though, I’m not the person who eats fruit for breakfast. I find it a bit acidic for the morning, so cereal is my go-to. Not just any cereal of course- I have a big laundry list of requirements (must be vegan, no hydrogenated oils, preferably wheat-free (for variety), preferably maple flavoured, not too much sugar)… you get the picture.
So when my friend Kathy Smart came out with her own line of cereal, Smart Starts, and gave me a bag full to try, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to review a cereal that meets all of my criteria, AND is locally produced here in Ottawa by I Crave Foods (which is a gluten and nut-free facility, among other things). It’s the first product in Kathy’s upcoming line of gluten-free convenience foods.
Smart Starts Cereal is available in four flavours: Maple, Apple Pie, Mega Maca and Pumpkin Spice. It’s made from organic ingredients (although is not certified organic itself), low glycemic, high protein (made from quinoa flakes) and sweetened with maple sugar. Chia seed offers protein, Omega 3’s and antioxidants. Smart Starts is gluten-free; I am not. It’s vegan; I am. I received samples of the Maple, Apple and Maca flavours, but have tried only the maple.
There are a couple of reasons for that. Firstly, I gave one of the maca ones to a colleague. Secondly, somebody got into the Smart Starts. (Hint: That’s a dog bed in the background.)
I’m presuming she liked it, since she ate a couple of them. But this is a dog who also eats poop, so I’m not sure how much weight we should give her opinion. No offence, Kathy.
So what did I think?
I was a bit afraid at first that it wouldn’t be enough to eat. After all, it’s a 50 gram package. I warmed a cup of unsweetened almond milk and stirred it in. At first it was runny, and I wondered if I’d gone overboard. But then within a minute it had thickened up nicely and it turned out to be quite filling. At first it wasn’t quite sweet enough for my palate, but after about three bites it was perfect. For those who need a little more sweetness, I’d suggest using sweetened milk.
It has a texture very similar to oatmeal, but since it’s peppered with chia seeds it gives an added dimension of mouthfeel. To be honest I’m a bit afraid of the maca flavour because I choked down maca in Vega for years and it’s not my favourite. I could never get used to the earthiness. But for anyone looking to pack a nutritional punch into their breakfast cereal it really can’t be beat.
I love that it’s made locally, and that the ingredients list is so limited. There aren’t even preservatives! It’s a great source of fibre and iron. Use almond milk, and you add in all kinds of extra goodness.
I’d say the biggest downside is the single serve packaging. As a self-identified environmentalist, I do try to avoid single serve products. However, as a human being living in a fast paced world, I think Smart Starts has a place for those mornings where you have to be on the go, or for traveling. Currently when I travel I have to portion out cereal and carry it with me, so this is another simpler alternative.
Smart Starts retail for $2.79 each on the Gluten Free Smart Store, and are available in Ottawa at various natural food stores.
*I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.*