Fast Casual Review: Berry Cherry Pecan Oatmeal from Jamba Juice

Oatmeal is the ultimate in pretentious people food. It’s ridiculously healthy, fully customizable, and apparently can be pretty high maintenance. It also makes you “regular” – something, I have found, that pretentious people obsess about.
Another thing pretentious oatmeal people tend to obsess about is where they get their oatmeal. As any true pretentious oatmeal eater knows, anything but homemade steel cut or old fashioned rolled oats is not really oatmeal. It won’t drop your cholesterol. It won’t taste authentic. And it sure won’t make you regular. Heck, as any pretentious oatmeal eater will tell you, eating anything but the real deal as made by you is a waste of time and money. Heck, you might as well just shoot yourself now, because if you don’t the high cost of drive-through oatmeal and unrefined sugar will kill you by this time next week. And you know what? They will tell you, as many have told us, both cheering and jeering McDonald’s recent Fruit and Maple Oatmeal.

The complaints, obviously, have been part of the international pretentious oatmeal eaters’ grand conspiracy, in which only “true” oatmeal eaters everywhere gather in a blitzkrieging effort of Internet activism to stop any any subversion to the land of organicy high maintenance oatmeal. Seeing as though this was the case, and knowing the mixed results of the McDonald’s oatmeal experience, I was naturally curious to see if a fast food or fast casual breakfast could deliver fast, affordable, and healthy oatmeal to the consumer.
I not only found that in Jamba Juice’s Steel Cut Oatmeal, I also found a fast casual oatmeal that beats anything I could of made on my own, and tastes damn good. Coming from a semi-pretentious oatmeal eater (I don’t partake in activism, however) this is saying something.

Jamba’s Oatmeal comes in five flavors (Apple Cinnamon, Berry Cherry Pecan, Blueberry and Blackberry, Fresh Banana, and Plain w/Brown Sugar). Not that I doubt Jamba’ recipe of steel cut oats and soymilk, but none of the flavor combos especially intrigued me outside of the Berry Cherry Pecan, which comes with glazed pecans and three types of dried fruit.
Start your day off right with organic steel-cut oats slow cooked with soymilk and topped with your choice of toppings. It’s a hot bowl of morning motivation
Trust me. I walk a mile to get to coffee at 6:30 a.m. most morning. Motivation, I need not. Still, armed with a cool $1 coupon (it retains at $2.95), I ponied up to the counter. A college-age girl, probably from my university, asked me for my name and gave me my number. An early 2000s song was playing in the empty store, which was filled with in bright colors and books about the benefits of organic food and blah blah blah. Had I wanted to, I could have added a Luna bar or bag of rice chips. Had I wanted to.
“Pretentious people would feel right at home here,” I said to myself. I waited a few minutes. The girl called my name and delivered me my bowl and container of toppings. I smiled. This was going to be interesting.
I had asked for toppings on the side and gotten instead a cup full of dried berries and glazed pecans in a cup, along with a bowl of oatmeal and a gigantic clump of brown sugar. Mother, please forgive this expression, but it looked as though somebody took a dump on my oatmeal. A pretentious person would tell me I was about to engage in risking myself for Type II diabetes, but whatever. The brown sugar smelled exceptional, and I was the kind of person who found a Twinkie not sweet enough, after all. I mixed it in, and dumped the three dried fruit blend (Blueberries, Cherries and Craisens) into the mix.
My first taste was exceptional. The oatmeal was warm. Not hot, mind you, but warm. The brown sugar was a welcomed break from the splenda packets I’m used to dumping in oatmeal, and gave an exceptional and full bodied sweetness to the oats. This was my first experience with steel cut oats, and I loved them. They were creamy in mouthfeel, but also had a bite to them. They also seemed to have more of a flavor than rolled oats, as if reminiscent to toasted barley or some other hippy, good-for-me grain. I really enjoyed the contrasts in textures and tastes, which was only accentuated by the dried fruit blend. Hats off to Jamba for using dried cherries and blueberries, which give a deeper, bolder sweetness than craisens. The Pecans, sweet and naturally flavorful, were slightly dissolved in the soy milk and oat blend, and gave the mixture a fantastic bite.
I kid you not, but this was one of the most flavorful bowls of oatmeal I have ever had. Maybe this means I suck at making oatmeal on my own, but I like being only semi-pretentious in my oatmeal making, and I can’t see myself constantly going through the hastleof spending a ton of money and time making it the way the really pretentious people do (slow cooker? please,I’m a 22 year old dude.) Once more, Jamba’s oatmeal kept me totally full even through a fairly active morning, and despite the Internet cries of “brown sugar? you’ll be hungry in an hour!” I wasn’t. Of course, I also had a burger two hours later, but that’s because I was bored and had a coupon, plus I needed something crappy to offset all the healthiness. At $2.95 I’m not sure I could make this a “regular” purchase, but I’m already on the hunt for future coupons to undercut the financial ruin possible by this new found obsession.
So thank you very much Jamba Juice. You may have a weird ambiance. You may not exactly be for morning people. You may be overpriced and the kind of place a pretentious or semi-pretentious oatmeal eater would find themselves in. But you’ve won me over and have me actually looking forward to eating something healthy while out on the town; which, if you know my obsessions with donut runs, is quite impressive.

Now, as to the question you’ll all asking: Is it better than McDonald’s? The answer is a definite yes. While I like McDonald’s oatmeal, it’s not something I’d seek out. It’s too safe, it’s flavor to plain. The maple flavor is toned back and the raisins are stale and somewhat boring. It might be cheeper than Jamba’s oatmeal, and it is surprisingly creamy, but it doesn’t have the same complex flavors of the Jamba options, and the oatmeal itself isn’t as nutty or pleasant. While I might get McDonald’s oatmeal if I should find myself at McDonald’s for breakfast, I’d willingly go out of my way to have breakfast at Jamba for their oatmeal.

Pros: Complex and boldly sweet flavors of brown sugar and pecans make for an excellent compliment to three berry mix. Plenty of sugar for the children. Earthly, tasty grains for the health freaks. Creamy mouthfeel broken up by pleasant grittiness of oats and light crunch of the pecans. Super dooper healthy.

Cons: Early 2000s music. Ambiance issues. Brown sugar "dumpage." The barrage of complaints this post could sustain. $2.95 is a bit out of my everyday price range.

Taste: 9.25/10
Value: 7.25/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.75/10
Price: $2.95

Overall GrubGrade: 9.00 (Exceptional)

More Info: www.jambajuice.com
Nutrition Facts:
Nutrition:Jamba Juice Berry Cherry Pecan Oatmeal (as served, with brown sugar and toppings)
Calories: 340
Total Fat: 9 g
Sat Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 55 mg
Carbs: 62 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sugars: 27 g
Protein: 9 g