Serious Eats

Cereal Eats: IKEA's 'Good For You' Brand of Muesli

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[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

Serious Eats World HQ has been officially tricked out by IKEA. Love it or hate it (or a little of both) there is no denying that it's the cheapest, most comprehensive one-stop-shop for furniture and the like. Serious Sweets editor Carrie Vasios explained the trajectory of an IKEA trip accurately in her lingonberry sandwich cookies post here .

Somehow Kenji and I got through the shopping trip without any shouting or meltdowns. After a few hours of this shockingly streamlined shopping, we found ourselves at the checkout line, with the Swedish Food Market before us in all its glory. While Kenji busied himself with a 50-cent hot dog—which he would later regret—I ran through the aisles like a kid in a candy store.

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I love IKEA food. The obscure flavors, the ultra modern packaging, the novelty of it all. Pushing past toothpaste tubes of salmon spread, I glanced anxiously around for the cereal, hoping somewhere in my heart for a glossy white box, perhaps with bold red lettering that said "Lingonberry Marshmallow Crunch" for this column.

As I neared the end of my search, I panicked. Elderflower Loops? Coffee Roll Flakes? ANYTHING? Then finally, I saw it. I should have known. Simple and understated, and named "Good For You," Ikea's signature cereal is Muesli.

My history with muesli is a little cloudy. It seems like the type of cereal my mom would have kept around, but the fruit was probably too colorful and exciting for her conservative cereal tastes. I now realize that muesli is the healthy, more responsible older cousin of the reckless and life-ruining granola. Slathered in sweetness and baked to an irresistible crunchiness, granola is a ruthless calorie giant. Muesli, however, remains raw, naked and rather simple, usually comprised of grains and dried fruits and nothing more.

From looks alone, I must say, I love the package's fat, compact shape. It just makes you want to give it a little hug. My first bites of the stuff alone revealed dusty oats, with some crunch from the rice crispies and a bit of chewy texture from the dried fruit. But I did not taste a single hint of honey, with the primary flavor being nothing, save a little hit of salt.

"Yeah, eating dry muesli by the handful makes me feel like a horse in a barn," said Noted Oatmeal Expert Erin. The fact, dry cereal lovers, is this: muesli is not meant to be eaten alone.

But the moment you pour milk into the bowl, the muesli comes alive! Oats, flakes and crispies combined into a crunchy, toasty, flavorful bite, with bursts of fruity flavor. Even the dried papaya, which I don't care for, contributed a perfect hit of sweetness. This muesli is delightful.

"I love muesli in yogurt because the yogurt acts as a softening agent, giving the oats a 'cooked' feel. The ceviche of muesli, if you will," added Erin.

The ingredients in Good For You: oat flakes, wheat flakes, rice crispies, roasted barely, dried papaya, raisins, dried, apples, honey, grape juice. Well, I feel "Good" just reading that. It just makes me want to kick back in a white egg-shaped chair and enjoy a bowl of this stuff on a table that I constructed myself. Just like IKEA furniture, few simple parts give way to a far more complex whole. Or, uh, is it the other way around?

What's your favorite muesli? Do you buy or make? Anyone picked up a bag of Good For You post-furniture shopping?

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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