Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Product Review: Uncle Sam Cereal (Original)

Uncle Sam Cereal is manufactured by Attune Foods, whose belief is simple: that "pure ingredients taste better and are naturally delicious." Sound familiar? Hint: good food tastes good. Fundamentally, that's why I like their products.

Having tried a few of their cereals in the past, they offered to send me some varieties I haven't tried before to officially provide a review. This morning, I tried the Original Uncle Sam Cereal; created from the combination of whole rolled wheat berries, whole flaxseeds and lightly seasoned with salt and barley malt. Just four natural and hardly processed ingredients.

From the first bite, I was very pleased with the flavor of the Original cereal. The rolled and toasted wheat berry flakes are delightfully crunchy and naturally flavorful. The barley malt (a natural sweetener derived from barley) adds just the tiniest sweetness--the way I prefer cereals to be. Some might call me "plain Jane," but I don't like a lot of added sweetness, especially in cereals, but appreciate ingredients the way they are. If you are accustomed to eating added sugars, I encourage you to gradually decrease the amount that you add. Then you'll be able to taste the natural sweetness in carbohydrates such as grains, milk, yogurt and fruit too!

You just can't beat the amount of fiber found in this cereal. Even better, in my opinion, is that it is all naturally-occurring and not fortified. Per 3/4 cup serving, Uncle Sam Original contains 2 grams of soluble fiber, the type that helps lower cholesterol. That's quite impressive for a single serving! And 8 grams of insoluble fiber, the type that aids in digestion, is nothing to scoff at either. I challenge you to find these amounts in other foods; they're few and far between. High fiber foods can aid in weight management since they keep you full for longer and can also help blunt the glycemic response, helping to control blood sugars and insulin levels.

Uncle Sam Original also contains 7 grams of plant-based protein from whole wheat and flaxseeds. Add 1 cup of milk for a total of 15 grams of protein. That's a protein-packed breakfast! Protein helps build and repair tissues in the body, but contrary to common misconception, it does not have to be derived from meat, cheese and eggs.

The flaxseeds also provide a nice dose of healthy fats (4.5 grams), particularly omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit heart health. In their whole form, flaxseeds also provide fiber, but when not chewed completely it is difficult to extract the fatty acid-containing oils. Chew thoroughly to reap all the benefits. If you have diverticulosis, this cereal would not be a good choice as it is likely the seeds would remain intact when traveling through the digestive system, which could lead to diverticulitis. I would love to see a flax-free version of Uncle Sam cereals too.

To complete my breakfast, I added some unsweetened, dried wild blueberries. In combination, these ingredients formed a simple and fast breakfast that is nutrient-packed and includes ingredients from nearly all food groups: grains, fruit, milk, fat and protein. That makes a tasty breakfast that will fill you up and provide energy to start your day. Great taste and great nutritional profile; it's a product that will be sticking around in my pantry!

Uncle Sam cereals also come in other varieties, including Raisin Bran and Strawberry. Learn more about Uncle Sam cereals and Attune Foods (who also manufacture gluten-free cereals) here. They can be purchased locally too, so check your local Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Wal Mart or neighborhood grocery store!

Nutrition facts per 3/4 cup serving: Calories 190, total fat 5g, saturated fat 0.5g, sodium 135mg, total carb 38g, dietary fiber 10g, sugars <1g, protein 7g. Minerals: iron 10%, calcium 4%, magnesium 25%, phosphorus 20%.

Ingredients: Whole wheat kernels, whole flaxseed, salt, barley malt. This item is not gluten-free.

One of the perks of my job is receiving complementary samples of products or compensation for passing along my expert opinion as a Registered Dietitian. Please be assured that my opinion is my own and my review is not guaranteed to be positive solely because I have received compensation. I'm here to help you--the consumer--sort through the vast amounts of nutrition information available to find legitimate answers. This is my primary goal in providing product reviews and sponsored contests on my blog.