Cereal Eats: Great Grains with Raisins, Dates, Pecans (And What Curtis Stone Thinks)

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Curtis in a field of grains, that match his grain-colored hair (!). [Photograph: postfoods.com/cereals]

20120305-great-grains-right.jpgWhoever you are, wherever you're from, and whatever cereal you prefer, I think we can pretty much all agree that this is a mighty fine picture of a man eating cereal.

So let's just say that when I met with Curtis Stone about Great Grains cereal, which he represents, I was slightly less than graceful. It was more of a crazy-eyed-and-awkwardly-shouting-at-him-about-what kind-of-milk-he-uses sort of encounter.

The Australian chef has been the star of TLC's Take Home Chef and was the third season host of Top Chef Masters, in addition to authoring cookbooks and being a passionate advocate of natural and organic foods. Lately, he's been advocating for Great Grains, which is a big hit around the Serious Eats office.

When Curtis was growing up, his mom made a lot of muesli with fruits, nuts, and oats, which she often toasted. So, like many of us, cereal was a big part of his childhood.

But I had to ask my burning question about cereal as a filling breakfast. Though a lover of both breakfast and cereal, I'm not necessarily a cereal-for-breakfast lover. "Don't rely on any one thing to fill you up," was Curtis's advice. Gasp—you mean you shouldn't go through three-fourths of a box of cereal until satisfied. On a given weekend morning he wakes up, has some fruit, yogurt, and cereal, then goes for a quick surf and cooks up a proper "breakkie" of eggs, bacon and vegetables.

Sounds like my weekend mornings, except replace a quick surf with a quick few hours of Netflix. (Pretty much the same?)

Then we got down to the hard-hitting questions. His favorite Great Grains flavor is Raisins, Dates & Pecans. He's a 2% milk guy but said that if he lived alone, he'd probably do whole milk.

His guilty pleasure cereal? He looked confused when I asked. "You know, like, um Reese's Puffs or something!?" I offered. He wrinkled his nose in semi-disgust and said, "Oh you mean like Froot Loops? No I don't really like sweet cereals." Um, alright, moving on.

Curtis proved his love for cereal, recalling a time when he was caught in the corner of a restaurant kitchen eating cereal from a saucepan; he was surprised he wasn't eating something more sophisticated. This touched my heart.

Our interview came to a close and Curtis departed in a flourish of tall, blond glory. I was left alone, standing with my gift bag of Great Grains clutched in my sweaty hand. Until we meet again, fair Curtis—I'll be here, eating the Grains in awkward handfuls at my desk.

So, let's talk about Great Grains Raisins, Dates and Pecans. It tastes like my grandparents' house in the best possible way. They always stocked some sort of muesli and Great Grains definitely brings me to those days. It's a hearty cereal full of nuts and other goodness (hence the higher calories). It's like the more mature version of Honey Bunches of Oats, replacing Bunches' frosted flakes and sugary clusters for whole-grain flakes and sensible fruit, with just enough sweetness to satisfy.

Recommended over yogurt or as part of a quick weekday breakfast. Also, one box only lasted two days at SEHQ, so that's a pretty good sign.

Great Grains lovers, what say you?

About the author: Aside from doing an awesome job with her role as Advertising Sales Manager, Leandra Palermo secretly harbors a lifelong passion with all things crunchy and served with icy cold skim milk. This column represents the culmination of that love affair.

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