Saturday, September 11, 2010

Best Breakfast In Town

Going back to school makes me remember how hard it is to grocery shop. A "quick" trip to the grocery store doesn't exist, and most days hitting up the grocery store is not my top priority. So what happens when I wake up ten minutes before my class starts and run to the refrigerator to find no oatmeal, fruit, or anything edible?

I starve for the next 3-5 hours of my life (gotta love those studio classes + back to back classes all day). Or I turn to my nutrition frenemies Caribou Coffee, Jamba Juice, and Starbucks.

Everyone knows the sad truth that these businesses offer a variety of drinks full of many empty calories and sugar. Their bakery treats have yet to impress me as well (last time I got a Caribou Coffee Muffin it was bland and had about 410 calories. Fail).

But I am going to give them another chance. Simply because they offer my all time favorite, OATMEAL. When I'm late and struggling to keep my life together having the opportunity to grab some oatmeal quick would most likely help straighten out my day. Or at the least get it off to a better start.

Now the question remains, who has the very best low impact oatmeal? Let's take a look at their nutritional profiles and cost first.

Caribou Coffee Banana Walnut Oatmeal (made with Soy milk)
Price: $2.75
Serving Size 189g
Calories 450g
Total Fat 16g (4.5g Saturated Fat)
Sodium 210mg
Sugar 21g
Protein 11g

Ingredients: Made with Regular Oatmeal Blend: regular oatmeal blend (oats, barley), salt/sugar, water, steamed milk, banana puree, glazed walnuts and banana chips. Contains: milk and tree nuts. May contain: peanuts, soy and/or wheat. Made with 7-Grain Oatmeal Blend: 7-grain oatmeal blend (oats, barley, millet, spelt, rye, triticale and wheat), salt/sugar, soy protein, water, steamed milk, banana puree, glazed walnuts and banana chips. Contains: milk, soy, tree nuts and wheat. May contain: peanuts.

Pros: Sounds delicious.
Cons: Instant oatmeal, highest calorie and fat content, has 11g of protein but the website boasts that they "added" the extra protein.

Jamba Juice Steel Cut Berry Cherry Pecan Oatmeal(with no brown sugar crumbles)
Price $2.95
Calories 300
Total Fat 9g (1.5g Saturated Fat)
Sodium 55mg
Sugar 20g (13g from dried fruit medley)
Protein 9g

Ingredients: steel cut oats, soy milk, dried fruit topping made from dried cranberries, blueberries, and cherries, glazed pecans containing soy.

Pros: Made with slow-cooked Steel Cut Oats, which means I will be getting all the nutrients I can from oatmeal and has the lowest calorie and sugar content.

Cons: Most expensive(serving size is the largest although and you are getting the highest quality oats).

Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal with Dried Fruit and Nut Medley Topping
Price: $2.45
Serving Size 83 g (around ½ cup of oatmeal and sprinkle of nuts and fruit)
Calories 340
Total Fat 11.5g (1.5g saturated fat)
Sodium 115mg
Sugars 21g
Protein 8g

Ingredients: whole grain rolled oats (with oat bran), salt, guar gum, calcium carbonate, iron, niacinamide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin b1), calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin b6), folic acid. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, dried cranberries (cranberries, sugar, sunflower oil), raisins (raisins [contain sulfites]), dried blueberries (blueberries, sugar, sunflower oil), dried cherries (cherries, sugar, sunflower oil).

Pros: Cheapest(smallest serving size).
Cons: Made from instant oats, no fresh fruit. Toppings come in pre-packaged plastic containers. 115mg sodium?


The winner? Jamba Juice!

The ingredients lists were quite I'm sure many of the fruit and nut toppings had ingredient lists as long as my Target Trailmix. I was forced to rely heavily on calorie counts and fat content to guess how natural the oatmeal really was.

Although Jamba Juice was the most expensive oatmeal it made up for it by delivering the most nutritious base, Steel-Cut Oats. The serving size is also the largest of the three. Finally it had the shortest ingredient list...although that may just be a vague ingredient list. Oh wait there's one more thing...I really want to try their African Nectar Tea!

Oh and as for the environment? Starbucks individually wraps all of its toppings which was a huge con. And Caribou Coffee doesn't really provide things like walnuts and bananas like Jamba Juice does. So I rationalized that Jamba Juice buys in food in larger bulk sizes...therefore being better for the environment! Definitely not good for the environment, but hey everyone, including me, has those days when they are far from perfection and just need a treat to keep going :)

What foods do you keep on hand to pack as snacks or grab on the go? Do you run out of them as often as I do?

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