Sweet (but not saccharine) surprise: Bear Naked's Peak Flax, Oats and Honey with Blueberries

As a general rule, I don't really like surprises, and I don't think I'm alone. Not to be a spoilsport, but being caught off guard isn't really my cup of tea. I'd love to be carefree and spontaneous, and thanks to a high level of gullibility and occasional tendency to get lost in my own head, on rare occasions I can pull off the impression that I actually am so. Or maybe the appearance given is really just flightiness. In any case, I much prefer to plan for spontaneity. Of course, there are exceptions, and more and more, I'm relishing them. For instance, when surprise=samples ( yahoo!), I'm all over it, especially when the samples are really, really good. It's a little ironic, the week after posting about my recent focus on reducing the amount of store-bought cereals in my dietary regime, I received a thoughtfully packed box of goodies from Bear Naked. And the truth is I really do love granola. I think depending on the brand, or if homemade, it can be a terrific snack, dessert, topping, and crust/pancake/ miscellaneous baking addend, and so I'm always excited to come across low sugar, minimally processed, healthier versions.  And Bear Naked, founded by longtime friends and motivated athletes Brendan Synnott and Kelly Flatley  from Darien, CT, is passionate about developing natural, delicious products for fueling active lifestyles. Made with real whole grains, "bearly" processed, and free of trans fats, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated oils, the best part is, they're delicious, too.  I have some fun in store to crunch my way through my package assortment. One bag, however, caught my attention irresistibly, and turned out to be a sweetly stirring surprise.

Lightly sweetened with subtle yet distinct notes of honey and lemon, Bear Naked's Peak Oat Flax with Honey and Blueberries  gets added texture from hearty flax seeds and oat bran, plus softly chewy dried blueberries.  Like all Peak varieties, it also delivers a decent dose of protein. In fact, the original Peak Protein flavor seems to have been specifically designed to meet guidelines for athletes to incorporate a gram of protein per ever 3-4 grams carbohydrate for post workout refueling. This particular flavor contains a little less, with approximately a 1-5 ratio. Now, I'm going to get carried away for just a second. First bite, the blend of delicate flavors and textures struck supremely harmonious chords  in the mouth...really! They made me think wistfully of my grandmother, and the simple "snow pudding" dessert she used to make. Not quite a meringue, she prepared it to  cloud fluffiness, lemony, light, and topped with blueberries. Of course, everything my grandmother made, to me, was always perfect. She passed away this past summer, and remembering, I suddenly had an emotional craving for snow pudding. And given that just 1/4 cup granola constitutes a serving, this flavor seemed perfectly suited as a layer or topping. I was apprehensive at first, but really happy with how this turned out. The simple foaminess of the snow pudding complemented and accentuated the natural flavors of the granola, which took on a new richness as it softened underneath. I think my Grandma would have approved.

Snow pudding parfait with granola and blueberries

  • Peak oat flax granola with honey and blueberries to taste (about 1 cup for 4 servings or to taste)
  • Fresh blueberries
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (or, substitute 2 X that amount of agar,  seaweed-based)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup honey or sugar, according to taste (the original recipe called for 3/4 cup sugar; I used a heaping 1/4 cup honey)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • *2 egg whites

*My Mom's suggestion, for lessening concerns about raw eggs: Place whole eggs in a pot of hot water prior to cracking; count to 12, then remove and continue with recipe

1.Wash blueberries and pat dry. Reserve about 1/4 cup each of blueberries and granola. Evenly divide  remaining blueberries and granola between four parfait or water glasses.

2. In a saucepan, dissolve honey, gelatin, and salt in 1/2 cup water over low heat low heat.

3. Remove from heat. Add 3/4 cup cold water, zest, and lemon juice. Chill until partially set.

4. Transfer to a bowl and add 2 egg whites. Beat until set, reaching a cloud-like firmness. Spoon over granola and blueberries and chill; serve topped garnished with additional blueberries and granola.

Find more recipes and product info at the official Bear Naked site.