September 8, 2014

Nature Valley Brown Sugar Pecan Bistro Cups Review

Nature valley bistro kcups box shot

Nature Valley, one of General Mills’ several brands, is more commonly associated with granola bars & more recently protein cereals. So when they announced they’d be coming out with oatmeal which could be prepared using a Keurig K-Cup brewer, we were totally shocked. This doesn’t mark the first time something other than coffee, tea or iced beverages has been announced for Keurig K-Cup brewers. 

A year ago, Keurig & Campbell’s Soup announced a partnership which would see instant soups that could be produced using Keurig K-Cup brewers, however, we have yet to see the products hit either retail store shelves or online retailers and haven’t heard anything from Keurig or Campbell’s since the original press release. As a result, it was only a matter of time before competitors decided to put a spin on the idea and come out with their own products, although we didn’t think Nature Valley would beat Keurig at their own game and release their products first. Today we’re checking out the first of the 2 flavors in the line-up with Nature Valley’s Brown Sugar Pecan Bistro Cups

Nature valley bistro kcups all ingredients

You start off by using at least an 8oz mug, dump the oatmeal & fruit/nut ingredients into the mug and brew the brown sugar Bistro Cup over the top of it by using the 6oz setting on your brewer. Stir everything together, wait a few minutes for the oats to finish cooking & the fruit ingredients to soften-up, then dig in. It’s important to use the 6oz setting since using anything larger will just result in a watery mess. The aroma wasn’t as strong as what we were expecting as the brown sugar aroma could be described as mild at best, although we could definitely smell the cherry bits after a few seconds. As far as taste, with a name like Brown Sugar Pecan, you’d think that you’d get a stronger taste of brown sugar but this unfortunately wasn’t the case. There is some sweetness present, but you’d get more of the desired namesake taste if you actually threw in a spoonful of actual brown sugar.

Nature valley bistro kcups pre brewer

Considering that the Bistro Cups contain what can be compared to as nothing more than an oversized sugar cube, we guess we shouldn’t have set the bar so high in our expectations (we checked after brewing and confirmed there wasn’t any remaining sugar in the Bistro Cup). The remainder of the ingredients tasted rather good as the whole grain oats definitely had a substantial grain/cereal taste to them plus the cranberries, cherries & pecans are also 100% natural (nothing artificial whatsoever) and made for a nice blend of sweet & slightly tart overall while the pecan bits added a subtle crunch to the mix. We also detected trace amounts of flax seeds as well which helps explain the high fiber content. Texture is the same as what you’d get from any instant oatmeal… a sticky/pasty mix normally associated with oatmeal of any type.

Nature valley bistro kcups brewer shot

A quick look at the nutritional info reveals that this oatmeal doesn’t slack in the nutrient category either. Each serving contains 310 calories, 8g of fat (0g trans), 140mg of sodium, 240mg of potassium, 17g of sugars & 54g of carbs including 7g of fiber and 7g of protein. You also get 2% daily value of Calcium, 2% Vitamin A & 10% Iron. Not too bad overall. While we’ll admit that visually, the final product is um… well… nothing like what’s pictured on the box, when have you ever been able to make any instant oatmeal product and ever have it come out like what’s pictured on the packaging? We figured we would show photos of what the product looked like immediately after brewing (oatmeal soup, anyone?) and after we had let it sit for a few minutes and stirred the cup (oatmeal glue/paste, anyone?). Yeah, we’ll admit it doesn’t look all that appealing, but trust us… it tastes a lot better than it looks.

Nature valley bistro kcups making oatmeal

Conclusion – While we were a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a stronger/sweeter brown sugar taste, we still thought that the final results produced from a Keurig K-Cup brewer were impressive nonetheless. Things still tasted fresh and very similar to what we’ve been accustomed to getting from the recent trend of instant oatmeal cups (actual 4oz sized containers of instant oatmeal you can microwave or pour boiling water into). While we can argue that we could get the same results with competing oatmeal cups simply by brewing a hot water cycle over them, we like the idea that Nature Valley tried to incorporate the flavoring/sweetener into a K-Cup instead of simply adding it into the oatmeal mix, plus you get slightly more oatmeal & nutrients vs. competitors’ products as well.

Nature valley bistro kcups oatmeal

Overall: Is it worth it? Yes (somewhat) - We enjoyed the results, but with only 3 servings in a box for roughly $6, it’s a slightly pricier experiment in Keurig-based cuisine when compared to the competitors’ alternatives.

We’ll be checking out the remaining flavor in the line-up soon & can’t help but wonder if Nature Valley will expand the line-up with new flavors in the coming months ahead. If you’re curious to see what these are like, go for it… just don’t expect anything drastically different than what you’d get from competitors who have been in the instant oatmeal game for considerably more decades than Nature Valley.

As for Keurig not thinking of this first, we have no idea why that turned out to be the case or why they continue to delay the Campbell’s Soup K-Cups. Maybe they wanted to wait until the Keurig 2.0 brewers were released? Regardless of the situation, we’re just glad that Keurig & their competitors are thinking outside the K-Cup so to speak and coming out with new products that aren’t coffee or tea-based. Oatmeals, soups… who the heck knows what’s next? The sky’s the limit & we’re all for trying out whatever comes our way.

Nature Valley Brown Sugar Pecan Bistro Cups work in all Keurig 1.0 K-Cup brewers (They are NOT compatible with Keurig 2.0 brewers) and are available in various sizes (3-packs all the way to 12-packs) at various in-store & online retailers. These Bistro Cups are not currently sold in Canada. Please also note that Bistro Cups will NOT work in Keurig Vue brewers.

A special thanks to SH for providing this Single Serve Coffee staff review. We would also like to note that we purchased a box of these Bistro Cups on our own for the purpose of this review.

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Posted by Jay Brewer at September 8, 2014 7:19 AM
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