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No need to go to the health food store to find real granola anymore - traditional grocery store shelves are full of new varieties of the oat clusters. Our favorite was from the maker of popular granola bars: Nature Valley. The company even offers several options for using granola for more than just yogurt toppings or snack mix. The Nature Valley website includes recipes for making pie crusts and French toast out of the granola, as well as using it as a topping on baked salmon. We sampled six brands of honey and oat flavored granola.

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Product/Score (out of 100) Nature Valley Oats 'n Honey 63 Kind Health Grains Oats & Honey Clusters With Toasted Coconut 62 Cascadian Farm Oats & Honey Granola 53
Judges' comments This granola was more than just a crumbled version of its snack bars. Judges enjoyed the sweet and oat combinations of these clusters. "There's no guilty feeling when I eat these," said one judge. "I think this mixture would be good to take along on my next hiking trip." Another said this was the prettiest of the granolas we sampled. "It doesn't look like health food," he added. Extra crunchiness made this granola a top pick. Judges raved about the big chunks, lots of oat flakes, sesame seeds, coconut bits and rice crisps. "It's got great flavor, nice nuttiness and a sweet, but not-too-sweet flavor," said one panelist. "It's really appealing." Another said he liked the nutty texture, adding, "Pass the skim milk, please." Sugary bits of this would be perfect on ice cream, said one judge. Another said she liked the texture of the granola but found the taste a little processed. "I think this would be good for baking," said a judge who liked the brand. "It would not overwhelm another dish and it would help decorate a dessert or even an entree."
Would they buy? Three of the four judges said yes. Three of the four judges said yes. Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information $3.68 for an 11-ounce package from Walmart. $4.99 for an 11-ounce package from Sweetbay. $3.99 for a 16-ounce package from Publix.

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Serving size Half-cup One-third cup Two-thirds cup
Calories 210 130 250
Fat/Fiber 4.5g / 3g 4g / 3g 6g / 3g
Sugars/Sodium 12g / 135mg 6g / 20mg 15g / 105mg
Carbs/Protein 32g / 10g 21g / 3g 45g / 5g

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Also Sampled: Post Honey Bunches of Oats Crunch Honey Roasted Granola ($3.69 for an 11-ounce package from Target, 41 points);

Kellogg's Special K Low-Fat Granola, Touch of Honey ($2.98 for an 11.3-ounce package from Walmart, 23 points);

and Bear Naked Oats and Honey With Blueberries ($5.29 for a 12-ounce package from Sweetbay, 21 points).

Panelists: Wayne Conery, manager of the R-bar on Treasure Island; John Hehn, owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to