“ Brand: Kate's Cakes / Cereal Bar „
If I say the words 'Granola Bar' I would expect two common reactions from most people. One would be 'Gran-what?' and the other 'Isn't that just a fancy term for cereal bar?' and despite quite a lot of googling, I'm still not convinced that the term 'granola' is anything more than an American word for muesli. Correct me if I'm wrong - as if I needed to ask!
I've probably eaten every cereal bar on the market over the past few years for either personal or professional reasons and most leave me pretty cold. All those pretty pictures of juicy fruits and chunks of nut lead you to expect something really tasty but most cereal bars taste far too much like the output of a creative cardboard recycling project. And they look so much like stuck-together-budgie-food that we used to call them 'Trill Bars'. If you dare to read the ingredients panel, you'll soon realise that most of these 'natural-looking' bars contain a veritable chemistry set of 'stuff' most of which is there just to stick them all together. Against a back-drop of such low expectations, this granola bar really is a revelation. I was given some cake samples from Kate's Cakes and the dairy free granola bar was amongst them - for that reason, I'm sorry that I can't tell you what they cost but I guess it would depend a lot on where you bought it - in a shop or a coffee bar, the prices would vary quite a lot.
To say that Kate's Cakes make a bloomin' good 'Dairy Free Granola Bar' is a bit like saying Gordon Ramsey is a 'bit handy in the kitchen'. If you see cereal/granola bars as a punishment bar then this one will change your mind. The only other product I could suggest as a benchmark would be the Eat Natural bars but Kate's Cakes bar has an entirely different texture. Eat Natural are hard and crunchy but the Kate's bar is the absolute opposite.
This is a soft, chewy, crumbly bar that's so full of good stuff that there's barely space to squeeze even the cereal in and certainly no space at all for any 'nasties'. Most cereals and cereal bars are lots of cereal, a teensy bit of the cheapest available fruit and maybe a hefty dose of flavour added to give the impression that there's more fruit than there is (and I didn't make that up - I used to work for a flavour company). The ingredient list in THIS granola bar is so clean you could eat your dinner off it - 30% honey, 15% almonds, 14% coconut, 10% sultanas, 10% dates, 7% rice krispies, 7% oats and 6% pecans. Actually that only makes 99% so I guess they squeezed in 1% of extra magic (or more likely, it's just 'rounding' errors). That's less of an ingredient list and more like a recipe - you could probably do it yourself at home, stir them all together, stick them in the oven and cut 'em up after. But if you did that, you'd not have such a nicely wrapped 'pop in your handbag' bar to pull out when you hit a really hungry emergency food craving.
The packaging is handbag-friendly or briefcase friendly for the boys. It's a transparent flow wrap pack that gives you plenty of opportunity to see what's inside and a nice thin cardboard insert that wraps around the bar and protects it. There's a cute cartoon on the front of a mother and child leaning on a fence pointing - presumably at the cows that haven't contributed to this 'dairy-free' bar. On the back you can read the ingredients, the allergen list and a nice little promise that all the ingredients come from happy plants (or cheerful chickens if they contain eggs which this bar doesn't). There's no 'refined sugar or fats and it's completely dairy free' - so all the sugar and fat is unrefined which I guess means it burps and picks its nose. It also tells us that if we want nutritional info we can find it on their website - and fair enough since this is a review, I thought I'd better check.
The nutritionals on the site say that 100g (which I'd guess is 3 or 4 bars) would contain 474 calories - that's about the amount I would expect. The fat is quite high at almost 30% but that should all be from the nuts and seeds (because there's no butter or margarine) so they are happy virtuous fats with lots of omega 6's in there for those who care about such things. 13% dietary fibre is also pretty impressive and the salt is also nice and low. That's enough - it's a treat so I'm not going to bore you silly with all the info that you can go and look up for yourselves.
Allergens? Well we are warned about gluten and nuts. The nuts were obvious but I had to go off and investigate the gluten because I knew it probably wasn't in the rice krispies but I hadn't realised before that oats have their own gluten. I should have known that but I didn't - just imagine a life without oatcakes - I'd struggle with that. They also warn us that the factory where the bar is made uses sesame ingredients. Obviously - given the name - there are no dairy ingredients either although I found that a bit of a spurious claim because I really wouldn't have expected any in a bar like this unless it was covered in yoghurt.
I did wonder if I saw this on a shelf - rather than being given it - would I have bothered to buy something positioned as 'dairy free' or would I just have assumed that it wouldn't be as nice as a 'normal' bar and so missed out on something good? It's difficult to know.
Most importantly then, what's it like to eat? The bar breaks really easily - all that honey keeps it very soft and chewy. This isn't a bar that's going to make your fillings fall out or leave you with an aching jaw. My first bite was dominated by coconut - but with a subtlety that comes from large slices rather than the much cheaper desiccated coconut you'd perhaps expect. The nuts gave it plenty of 'bite' - and they weren't tiny flakes but good chunks. The honey is a pleasant slightly bland one - rather than an over-flavoured honey that might dominate the other ingredients. I do think that honey and almonds go together particularly well but maybe that's all those years of Toblerone adverts sinking into my unconscious mind.
I ate my bar without looking at the ingredients but I could tell that there was very little cereal in it - just a smattering of rice krispies and some very soft oat flakes which I'd guess had been pre-treated to stop them being too 'porridgey'. The only ingredient I hadn't noticed was the dates - I didn't pick up a date taste and probably just dismissed them as more sultanas.
Yes, I think this is a fantastic product that's stuffed full of good things to help off-set any guilt you might feel at eating something so indulgent. It's worth the effort to track them down and you shouldn't let the 'dairy free' label put you off - these are not compromise products, you don't have to have an allergy to enjoy this bar. I did a bit of googling and apparently you should be able to find Kate's Cakes products at stores like Ritazza, Upper Crust, BHS cafes, Tesco Cafes and independent coffee shops and retailers. I've also seen their chocolate brownie in an airport Weatherspoons for 99p so if you hunt, you will find these products. Or you can mail the website, tell them where you live and they'll tell you where to get them.
Sussex based manufacturer of premium cakes and desserts has a range of desserts specially designed for those with intolerances to certain food. Now everyone can enjoy!