Food Vegetarian friendly

Review: Red River Cereal

Red River Cereal is what it is — a simple hot breakfast with a whole lot of fibre. Also, an acquired taste.

I picked up the Red River Cereal habit as a kid living in Winnipeg. It’s sort of like oatmeal porridge, but with a mix of different grains standing in for the oats. The ingredient list couldn’t be simpler: Cracked wheat, cracked rye, flax (cracked and whole). That’s it.

Preparation is just as simple. Put water in a large microwave-safe bowl, add a pinch of salt, add the Red River Cereal, then zap in the microwave. Stir when the microwave finishes, let it sit for five minutes, then serve and enjoy.

For me, one serving isn’t enough to fill me up, so I double the batch size and adjust the water and cooking ratios accordingly. My standard ratio is 1/2 cup of Red River Cereal to about 1 3/4 cups of water, plus a pinch of salt. I microwave it on high for nine minutes, stir it when it finishes, then let it sit to cool down. Your microwave mileage may vary.

On its own, it’s not very flavourful — you can’t expect a lot, given the limited ingredients — but a sprinkling of brown sugar on top brings out the best in the grainy flavours and turns it into a healthy alternative to instant oatmeal. It’s simple, it’s nutritious, and it’s crazy cheap.

Tips:

  • Use a large bowl when preparing it in the microwave. It gets very bubbly as it cooks, and the boiling hot froth can easily spill over the top of a bowl.
  • The box is all cardboard, so you might want to store it in a different container once you open the box.
Add a bit of brown sugar on top of your Red River Cereal, and the taste changes entirely.

RATINGS AND DETAILS

Cost: $4.49 per 1.35 kg box at a local grocery store.

Value for cash money: Insanely cheap. One standard serving uses 40 grams of cereal, and a box contains 1.35 kg of cereal — that’s just shy of 34 servings per box. At a cost of $4.49 per box, that works out to around 13 cents per serving. See? Cheap AND good for you.

Availability: Some larger grocery stores in Western Canada carry it, but not all.

Nutrition?: Great stuff. Per 1/4 cup serving, you get 6 grams of fibre (24 per cent of the daily value!), 6 grams of protein, and 10 per cent of the daily value of iron. And all this will only cost you 150 calories. (Add some brown sugar to the top, and it’ll maybe climb to 200 calories, depending on how much you use.)

The verdict: An acquired taste. I love having it on a cold winter morning, when a bowl of cold cereal just won’t cut it. It’s a Canadian prairie classic.

UPDATE (Dec. 29, 2011): As some of you have noted, Red River Cereal was the subject of a recall earlier this year. But have no fear — it’s back in grocery stores across the country. I just spoke with a rep from Smucker Foods Canada, and they confirmed that new stock was sent to stores on December 1, 2011. As double-confirmation, I spotted some fresh boxes at my local Safeway in Calgary earlier this month. Hooray! —iain

 

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