My buddy, James from SurvivalPunk, runs a blog similar to mine, and lives a similar lifestyle. He and I both eat as close to 100% Paleo as we can.
For those not in the know, “Paleo”, or “the Paleolithic Diet”, in a nutshell, consists of no refined sugars, no grains, no legumes, and no dairy. Pause a second and realize what this means….
…no candy, syrup, or anything with high fructose corn syrup in it…sugar bad, but honey is OK…in limited quantities…
…no grains, bread, pasta, or cereal…not even granola….
….no beans, peas, peanuts, (or peanut butter!), and no soy or soy-products…..
…no dairy means that milk and cheese are off limits…
So what does that leave? Animal and fish protein, nuts, most vegetables (omitting those pesky legumes), fruits (though in limited amounts if they are high in sugar), fats (YES, fats!), and seeds (again, not legumes …sheesh!).
The Paleo Diet is a far cry from my childhood. Since I grew up in a rural area with a high population of Italians, and started every day with biscuits and gravy, or pancakes with loads of syrup (sadly, not from a tree, but some processed corn-based poison), I developed a habit of eating carbs, and lots of them.
One of my favorite breakfasts was plain old oatmeal. Boiled grain, topped with sugar and butter. Mind you, thanks to Alton Brown, I had evolved from “quick oats” to “steel cut oats” – a FAR tastier version of the same boiled grain…but no longer. All grains are off the menu for me now.
So when James mentioned a new product on the market that fills a old craving I deal with from my diet choice, namely hot breakfast cereal, aka “oatmeal”, I had to give it a try.
I contacted the folks over at Paleo Meals to Go, who specialize in backpacker-type freeze dried meals for folks on the Paleo Diet. Portability AND my diet restrictions…That was two marks in favor of the company already…
After exchanging several emails, a sample of “Coconut Berry Breakfast” was shipped to me to try and review. I was excited, since I sooo love coconuts. (Click here to see all my coconut articles). Convergent interests – coconuts and a Paleo “oatmeal” option.
Before I go into my take on the Coconut Berry Breakfast, let me describe my pre-Paleo oatmeal breakfast:
My oatmeal would be served in roughly two-cup portions (yeah I LIKED it!), and would only have two things in it – brown sugar and butter. On the side, there would be three or four slices of buttered toast. And a TALL glass of milk.
Is it any wonder why I’d go into a coma after breakfast back then?
So just what is Coconut Berry Breakfast?
From the website:
A delicious, hot breakfast meal (with the consistency of standard oatmeal), but containing coconut, golden flaxseed meal, almond flour, walnuts, pecans, blueberries, strawberries, powdered coconut water, vanilla beans, and freeze-dried coconut oil.
That last little bit was impressive to me. “Sea salt and honey crystals” included… A salt packet is simple enough, but “sea salt” is a nice touch…
And honey crystals? What are those??…Yes, that was a new one on me. I don’t get out much, sorry…
I do know that honey is right up there with salt as one of the “Original Long Term Storables”. Salt has an indefinite shelf life, being a mineral. Due to several unique factors, if honey is kept away from moisture and humidity, can last centuries.
If I could get my long term food storage to last a couple decades, I’d be happy…
Honey is the end product from bees collecting nectar from flowers, regurgitating it, then dehydrating it. Yeah, bees know how to dehydrate. But what are “honey crystals”? This particular brand, “Nektar Honey Crystals” doesn’t seem to meet my guidelines for Paleo. Ingredients are “natural honey and sugar”.
That’s the bad news. And ultimately, not a huge issue, since the honey comes in a separate packet – if you don’t want to use it, don’t!
Also included was a little condiment guideline sheet explaining just that.
THAT is good planning!
Though they didn’t send a bowl or a spoon…I guess they can’t cover EVERYTHING…
Now, as to the Coconut Berry Breakfast…
It has nuts in it. And fruit. I never ate nuts or fruit in my oatmeal. Would I even have had room in my bowl?
Luckily, I’ve changed my ways…And like to try new food ideas.
A fantastic move on my part, at least as far as oatmeal goes. (Sure it is a small personal victory, but a win is a win!)
The first thing I noticed upon opening the package was that Coconut Berry Breakfast lived up to its name, having plenty of both coconut and berries (the fruit count in Raisin Bran would pale by comparison!). It also had a hefty amount of pecans and walnuts as well. Visually, it was “busy”, something that often means a nice variety of tastes and textures.
In a word, “Wow!” The taste was only vaguely similar to oatmeal. Not bad by any means, simply not “oat-ey” tasting. The texture, however, was very much like oatmeal. (I like to call it “mouth feel”, since that is where the texture matters with food – Coconut Berry Breakfast has a mouth feel very much like that of good old steel cut oats!) The almond flour and flax seed meal combined with coconut flakes of just the right size to mimic the texture of oatmeal. Texture alone made this a winner for me.
Happily, Coconut Berry Breakfast does not need to rely on texture alone. The flavor works. Not too sweet, it was actually a little on the tart side due to the unsweetened strawberries and blueberries. The coconut wasn’t overpowering, nor was the almond flour. The flax seed meal, a glutinous substance when added to warm water, adds that creaminess I miss so much in oatmeal. And yet, at no time did I get a strong flax flavor.
One of the reasons I liked steel cut oats over the rolled oats was for the nutty flavor and slight crunch you would get with the partial seed structure still intact. Walnuts and pecans stepped up to the plate, and added a very close approximation to the steel cut nutty flavor and crunch.
I’m impressed (or possibly just easily fooled because I WANTED a Paleo replacement for oatmeal) at the way all of the independent ingredients worked together to simulate a very different product. Each ingredient brought a subtlety to the dish that played a key part in the dish as a whole. I’ve tried making my own version of “Paleo Oats” with many of these same ingredients, but I’ve not yet achieved my Paleo Oatmeal Nirvana.
Not to worry. In this case, Paleo Meals To Go has already achieved my Nirvana, and happily sells it.
And best of all, I received this last week:
I wanted to tell you we’ve had several other requests for the coconut breakfasts in bulk sizes so that’s on my To Do list.
Oh, Hell Yeah! I’m looking forward to a 50lb bag for my pantry….
They are also into disaster preparedness, and suggest using their meals as Bug Out Bag meals, sort of a Paleo-MRE. Also, being a dehydrated product, it makes a great long-term storage item for the Paleo Preppers!
Go check them out. I’m planning on taking some of their meals along on a week long hike I am planning with the folks over at The Wanna Be Homesteader. Should prove to be an interesting trip
At least I know I’ll eat well!
Before I sign off, I wanted to add one more thing in regards to the Paleo Meals To Go and their packaging…I saw this in the corner of the Coconut Berry Breakfast package:
Just a caveman sitting under a palm tree, enjoying life.
I saw it and it reminded me of another simple guy sitting under a tree…
Ironically, here is my logo, created back in September, 2012…
Converging themes, coincidence, or fate ?
Go check out Paleo Meals to Go, and tell them FloridaHillbilly sent ya…
And try the oatmeal!
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