Thursday, September 29, 2011
Product Review: Cavena Nuda Naked Oats
"Cavena is a naturally evolved naked oat developed with the support of Ag-Canada." That is what the packaging says about Nuda Naked Oats. I received this product for testing, excited to try a rice substitute but had no idea what I was in for.
This hulless oat that the company refers to as the "Rice of the Prairies" was on the Dragon's Den and secured a deal with Boston Pizza's mega foodie star Jim Treliving. As a big fan of the show, I was intrigued! A rice substitute that is 17.2% complete protein, high in fibre, low glycemic index and wheat free? Sounds healthy but! Is it edible?
I began with just making it as the container instructs you to do. I brought 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of Cavena to a rapid boil. You were supposed to do so for 40 minutes but all the liquid disappeared after half the time had elapsed. As a result, I had to add water and brought it down to a simmer. Apparently there is supposed to be enough liquid left over that you will drain the Cavena at the end. Um... I don't think so.
I served it with some green beans topped with Parmesan in an attempt to hide it from Reg who actually loves rice pilaf but I had a bad feeling. Right away, he had issues with it. It was so tough and hard, chewing through it took forever. He sat there chewing and chewing away... but after one bite left the rest of the food (including the beans) untouched. He was not a happy foodie that night.
My response was a little different. I went through a health craze years ago and was used to eating foods like brown rice that I did not enjoy but just shovelled in without thinking about it. Sadly, that is how I got the Cavena down. The texture is so tough, very reminiscent of wild rice that is undercooked.
I do know that health nuts will probably enjoy this way of cooking the Cavena, as well as appreciating the health benefits. My uber-health days are long gone though and for a now-food-enthusiast who wants to just love food, I will not be making the Cavena like this again.
I did not stop there. They have many recipes on their site to try so I made the Red Lentil Soup. Once again I had to keep adding broth over and over again because everything was drying out so quickly. I had decided to leave out the "lean group meat" which I figured was an unspecified ground meat to make a vegetarian version of the soup because I think that is the market for this product and am glad I did.
After tweaking the recipe and adding a lot more stock this soup was quite mushy overall but the Cavena was still quite chewy. The flavours were not bad but the texture was not pleasant. There was no way I was going to ask Reg to eat this, he would have hated it and again, I just ate it knowing it was good for me.
I was excited to find out that you could bake with Cavena. What I was not expecting when I started making their banana muffins was having to toast the Naked Oat in the oven and have it start popping immediately. There were no directions about what temperature the oven should be set and no warning this would happen.
I opened the oven door to video the popping Naked Oats which cooled things off and quieted it down. It drives me crazy when a recipe does not give enough instruction or warning about this kind of thing.
I thought it was very cool that you make your own Cavena ground flour. Which they did not tell you how to make. I put half a cup in my chopper and the grains just spun and spun around. Then I put it in my blender and it worked. This was as fine as I could get it.
The recipe worried me once again because according to the list of ingredients only one egg was necessary but the directions refer to beating the "eggs" which of course made me feel like I was missing something. I stuck with the one egg and stirred it into 1 cup of mashed banana, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil and added 3/4 cup of milk.
I then poured it into the dry ingredients after I whisked together 1 1/2 cup of flour, the ground Cavena, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 3 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp of salt.
I was happy to see that the batter fit perfectly into my paper-lined muffin tins to make a dozen muffins like the recipe said it would! That made me feel better.
I was very wary of the Cavena "topping" though so I only put it on half the muffins, just in case. I just mixed together some of the toasted Cavena (which I was supposed to grind slightly, darn it!), brown sugar and cinnamon. I skipped the nuts.
Did they ever look beautiful when they came out of the oven!
Shockingly, they were perfectly baked and super moist! Even though I forgot to grind the Cavena, the first muffin I had with the topping was great and the topping itself edible. I was so surprised! The next day though it hardened so definitely grind it up slightly.
I did not give Reg one of the muffins with the topping on it to try. It actually took me a day to get him to eat one of these muffins, I could tell he was resistant after the whole rice pilaf fiasco. I am happy to report, he loves these muffins too and actually asked to have one the other day.
Phew! I have one kind of success story to share!
If I had one thing I would recommend to the company is to get a proofreader and recipe tester for the online recipes. Because this is an unusual product and not necessarily one that is easily adaptable to other recipes, the people who buy this product will really depend on the recipes via the site for inspiration.
Personally, I will use the rest of the Cavena as flour. I think that is where the money is when it comes to this product. There is no way I would cook with it again in our household. That said, I know a lot of nutrition-oriented foodies out there that will probably love and appreciate this product. As a result, rating it is pretty much impossible. This time, you will have to be the judge.