Wednesday, December 4, 2013

REVIEW: Nature Valley Peanut Butter Soft-Baked Oatmeal Squares

I was reaching into a box of what I THOUGHT was full of Nature Valley's Cinnamon Brown Sugar Oatmeal Squares when I realized something was awfully wrong- My cinnamon senses were NOT tingling. And the box I had opened up once before ALREADY was completely sealed off. Like it was a COMPLETELY different box. Hmmm...
So then I saw that my dad had gone and bought these Peanut Butter Oatmeal Squares and switched them out for the Cinnamon ones while I wasn't looking. And so, I grabbed THIS oatmeal square, unaware of the switch in my lunch.
Well, I serendipitously walked into THIS review. 
I reviewed Nature Valley's Cinnamon Brown Sugar Oatmeal Squares before these ones mainly because (1) Brown Sugar Cinnamon is one of my favorite flavors of oatmeal, and (2) Peanut Butter is one of my least favorite flavors. Of anything. Well, at least when it comes to snack bars anyway. I mean, I've had my fair share of peanut butter-flavored protein/granola/whatever bars, and a lot of them have proven to be nothing special. Honestly, when IS peanut butter a unique kind of flavor, hmmm? I think I've expressed my thoughts before that peanut butter is nearly always one of the FIRST flavors a protein bar line will release ALWAYS.. And I KNOW that these oatmeal squares are clearly NOT protein bars, but I just can't help but feel peanut butter has become a BORING and OBVIOUS flavor. For anything close to a protein bar even!
So that's why I was so hesitant to try Nature Valley's peanut butter-flavored oatmeal squares. I didn't want to be disappointed by a flavor that's left me rather unsatisfied time after time. But since Dad went and bought these, I might as well suck it up and grow a pair. Now- let's review this square!
A 7.44 oz. box containing six 1.24 oz. squares costs around $3.38.

A 35g oatmeal square contains 160 calories, 60 of them being from fat, 7g of total fat, 2g of saturated fat, 0g of trans fat, 15mg of cholesterol, 150mg of sodium, 21g of total carbohydrates, 2g of dietary fiber, 9g of sugar, and 3g of protein.

Even with my fresh-brewed coffee sitting next to me, the smell of peanut butter pervaded my unprepared proboscis in a way I did not see coming at all. The aroma was totally dreamy, awesomely PB. Wow, forced that rhyme out. Anyway, looks-wise, this is a tan/light brown oatmeal square with a mild orange peanut butter drizzle. This bar is very tiny. But don't get down by its meager looks- this square is thankfully quite dense and rather thick, full of oats and soft, squishy insides. Like a jellyfish!!!
...No... that's just wrong...
A jellyfish isn't full of oats! Silly me.
Starting out, this was a much sweeter bar than I thought it was going to be. The PB taste isn't very strong, and it's clearly a SWEET PB taste, not a salty PB taste- what I mean by that is that this square is more reminiscent in taste to peanut butter cookies than, say... peanut butter crackers. I'm not saying this bar tastes COMPLETELY like a peanut butter cookie either, oh no, don't get me wrong- it's more like 60% peanut butter scotchie, 25% oatmeal cookie, and 15% peanut butter cookie. Like I said, the PB taste isn't very strong, hence the low percentage of full-on peanut butter cookie taste. I was a bit disappointed by the mild amount of peanut butter flavoring here, but then I realized, hey! This tastes like a freakin' scotchie. I shouldn't be so dismayed. Overall, this square tasted a lot better than I thought it would. I must've just been so used to icky, bland peanut butter protein bars.
The cookie-like oatmeal square also comes with the texture of a soft-baked cookie- We're talkin' crumbly, soft, and chewy. The downside is that this bar comes in a little dry. But the feel for the most part is enjoyable- Not even ALL cookies can be as soft and chewy as THIS bar, so that's something to be a bit proud of.
Halfway through this square, I decided to try something I'd wanted to for awhile- Eating these squares warm. I popped the rest of mine in the microwave for twenty seconds, and it popped out moist- the peanut butter drizzle all melty on top. And OH MY GOD. FORGET EATING THESE PLAIN. YOU MUST EAT THESE SQUARES WARM. MUST. The rest of my square was so unbelievably good- I mean, the taste was good before, but then- my gosh- SO good. It was as close as you could get to a warm, baked cookie without actually eating a cookie. Really, honestly. I thought the bar tasted like a cookie before, but man, that was NOTHING compared to how it tasted AFTER coming out of the microwave. Warm on the inside, gooey icing, even softer taste, melts in your mouth- I just HAVE to try the Brown Sugar Cinnamon flavor warm sometime too!
Anyway, this bar is a scrumptious little cookie-like treat by itself, but pop it in the microwave and it's like heaven on earth. It's as close as you can get to a peanut butter and/or oatmeal cookie without actually EATING a peanut butter and/or oatmeal cookie. Yes, this bar surpassed my expectations. For sure. I'm not going to say it was better than the Brown Sugar Cinnamon flavor, because I honestly haven't had the chance to try that one hot, and that obviously changes things, but both squares are super delicious oatmeal delights. Just remember: EAT THESE WARM. You will NOT regret it.
I'd give this bar an 8.25/10, same as the Cinnamon Brown Sugar. I love them both equally. Yep, not gonna bother choosing one over the other.
 UPDATE: I tried the Cinnamon Brown Sugar square warm as well, and wasn't as equally as impressed, so these Peanut Butter squares receive the slightly higher score of 8.5/10.

If you've tried both of Nature Valley's Oatmeal Sqaures, which one did you prefer more? The Peanut Butter or the Brown Sugar Cinnamon? You tell me!

Till' then, this has been RiRi ri-porting!

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