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Monday, February 06, 2006 

New Alpha-Bits (0 grams of sugar)

Early one recent morning my seven year-old daughter, who has a keen awareness of the sugar content in her breakfast cereal, excitedly held up a box of Alpha-Bits to me and exclaimed: "look dad! This one has zero sugar." Surely, I thought, she must be mistaken and has read the wrong statistic. I grabbed the box expecting to refute the information when I noticed the box looked a bit different. When my eyes moved down to the sugars area of the Nutrition Facts, sure enough, it WAS zero! Crazy! My daughter proceeded to tell me that she likes this cereal and this is what she wanted for breakfast. Knowing that she was confusing this with traditional Alpha-Bits, which, of course, are quite good, I mildly expressed some doubt as to the validity of her claim. Not so much, though, that I could quell her conviction that they would be a delightful and healthy morning treat. I figured I would be brave and try some as well, especially since we were out of some of my sweeter favorites. I was, however, by no means deceived as to what may be in store.

At first bite you get what you expect. A taste of something similar to chewing on the non-popsicle end of a popsicle stick. It took about half-of-a-bowl of progressively frowning spoonfuls from my daughter before she finally stated that it was awful and tasted like wood dust or something to that effect. I offered her to put some sugar in it to make it more palatable. This did the job. One teaspoonful and it was good enough for her to finish quickly. Still healthier than the typical children’s breakfast cereal with 10+ grams of sugar (1 tsp is less than 5g) but not the original purity.

As for me, I found that as the cereal soaked in the milk, the milk sugars made the cereal much sweeter. This brought it into the edible range though not quite to yummy. Of course, I like the taste of milk which, I think, is a requirement if you have any hope of consuming this on a regular basis.

Interestingly, a few days later, I found my daughter eating this cereal again, and this time without even asking for sugar. She still claims to not really like it, but it couldn’t be that repulsive if she chose it on her own (no we were not quite totally out of food in our pantry).

My wife, by no means a health nut, purchased the cereal out-of curiosity for ME to try. Our reactions I think prompted her to give it a go though her reaction was a mere “is not great” and that she will not buy it again. Surprisingly I found myself putting up a defense of the stuff saying that I would not mind having it around.

I would be up for eating it a couple of times a week for the health benefits. Not every meal has to be a favorite and I can deal with a few mediocre ones to balance out the very tasty high-fat and high-calorie meals in which I have been known to indulge. I suspect that with a measure of getting used to consuming the cereal I would appreciate it better and hopefully improve my nutritional habits. Plus I can shore up my spelling!

The Facts
Serving size is a relatively large 1 ¼ cup with 3g dietary fiber (1g soluble). 2g of fat 0g saturated and 0g trans fat. Also has: 4g protein, 0g sugars, 18g of other carbohydrates.

Ingredients are myriad of healthy (and low taste) items including: Whole grain oat flour (1st) Yellow corn flour (2nd) and wheat flour (3rd). No artificial sweeteners listed.

Manufacturer says: Excellent source of whole grain. Good source of calcium. Good source of fiber. Rich in whole grain plus has letter learning fun!


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