Ma’am est Malade( and Celeriac)

Our lovely part time neighbours in our tiny French Hamlet, invited us for New Years Eve ( Reveillon) and Carolin served us as a starter something which I often cook, but just as a vegetable, and serve it in puree form. Celeriac, is a root vegetable, which is a bit like the end of celery stalk. It is widely cultivated in Northern Europe , Asia, North and Central America and is a vital part of Puerto  Rican Cuisine. Locally, to me it is on the street market ( ethnic market) but  only on one stall on the upmarket Sunday Farmers Market.

Carolin had, I believe,  baked it according to her instructions in the oven for about 4 hours, but just like Baked Potatoes, there is an easier way. I removed the obvious lumps and shoots and gave it a scrub ( usually a bit dirty) and then wrapped it in cling film and popped it in the Microwave on high for about 8 minutes , gave it a poke and cooked it for another 3. I then ( when it had cooled a bit so easier to handle) rubbed it all over with some olive oil, and some salt ( not too much ) and  then crushed coriander seeds. Then baked it in the oven at 200 C for about 15 minutes for it to brown. To eat, ( and I have to admit I kept carving off a slice and munching, as I found it to be very delicious) cut into slices and serve with a few spots of the thicker balsamic vinegar.

The next thing I did whilst in the Alps, was to bring out  the preserving pan, again and I made Marmalade. I read an interesting thought on why it is called Marmalade. It said that Mary Queen of Scots was in France and was unwell. To try and make her better, servants brought her some Marmalade, but all she heard was (” Ma’am est Malade “) Madam is ill but apart from anything else, it means we can always remember how to spell Marmalade correctly. The story although cute is probably incorrect as Marmalade came to the UK via Portugal, and as a quince paste. It is only in the UK that Citrus fruit Jams are called Marmalade, elsewhere they tend to be a generic JAM or Jelly in the USA.

Seville oranges are the orange of choice to make Marmalade, however on my trip to my local French supermarket, no such luck, but Clementines by the ton, so I opted for them. I used one kilo of clementines to 1 kilo of preserving sugar.

Peel the fruit using a potato peeler and keep the peel and remove the white pith. Chop the fruit and put in to a preserving pan or heavy duty saucepan, and for each kilo of fruit add one kilo of the preserving sugar. Add the peel as well and slowly bring to the boil and keep simmering. As I prefer my peel to be very fine, I then use a hand held blender to whisk it all around and cut the peel into very fine bits until the mixture reaches a jam Setting temperature which is about 120 C on a special Jam thermometer ; having such a thermometer makes life very simple and is worth the investment. I sterilise my jars by putting water in each one and Microwaving for a couple of minutes until the water is boiling, carefully removing them and putting upside down on a clean towel to drain,  I soak the lids, also in boiling water. ( you can use wax paper discs instead)  Pat them dry with paper towel and carefully fill the jars with the mixture. If you place your jars onto a wooden surface, they will not crack when you pour in the very hot liquid.  Seal with the dry lids and leave to cool. It is easy to see if the mixture has set, just hold the jar, upside down, if it does not move, it is set and ready to use !

My Mexicans came to stay!

Over the weekend my Mexicans came to stay, I still call them My Mexicans even though they now live in London. The Smallest was born in Mexico and as such has a Mexican passport ( as well as a British one) and so he can really be labelled My Mexican, despite the fact that he has forgotten all of his Spanish, his first language. The other two were educated in Spanish for several years so hopefully it will stick somewhere in their brain!

We really love having them come and the weekend was started for the big kids at least by a visit to the Theatre.

We took them to see School Of Rock, which was great fun. We had seats up on the side so in fact we’re very near the stage and could see everything very clearly, and on top of that, they offered a VIP package , which I got for the kids, and it was well worth it. The theatre had cordoned off a part of the foyer, we had our own corner, the kids were given a delux box of crisps and a drink to start with and were asked what flavour ice cream they would like for the interval! Special indeed! The show ( I was rather sceptical at first) was great and the kids in the show, were amazing, both of the guitarists, ( boy and girl who could swing her bunches as well as play the guitar) the keyboard player and as for the young drummer, well!! Along with the girl backup singers, they really were a School Of Rock!

A few visits ago, I decided to make them a menu, so they could choose their won breakfasts! More or less , the first words the eldest ( he is 11) said to me were”Nana, are you going to make us a menu for breakfast?” But of course was my reply.

So here is their menu:-

  1. Fruit,raspberries,blueberries,mangoes
  2. Yogurt
  3. Eggs any style, boiled, fried or scrambled
  1. Bacon
  2. Sausages
  3. Sausage rolls
  4. Baked Beans
  5. Pancakes, French style with topping of choice
  6. Cereal, Museli, ( not for Alfie)
  7. Pastries, cinnamon rolls or croissants
  8. Porridge
  9. Toast and homemade jams

Orange juice, red or orange, grapefruit juice, tea, coffee, water

And the winners were? The eldest chose, pancakes with scrambled egg, normally he would have had them with bacon as well, but at the moment his school project is to help Save the Planet, so meat is off the agenda! However he did manage, 3 eggs scrambled along with three pancakes. Our lovely Tess, the younger of the big kids, chose pancakes with maple syrup and bacon and the little Mexican, just a pancake with brown sugar cut up like a Pizza! All had Orange juice, I had bought blood orange juice as well, but they were less than keen, though maybe it was the colour more than the taste.

Popi, is the man in charge of pancakes, although the eldest has the recipe off by heart and can make them equally as easily, but it was to be Popi to don his apron and get pancake making! Their Mom, makes the pancakes without added sugar, whereas for me it depends if they are sweet or savoury , but even the sweet version only has a relatively small amount added.

Basic Pancke mix ( Crêpe)

  1. 250grm/ 9 oz plain four
  2. 30 grm/1oz caster sugar ( sweet pancakes)
  3. Pinch salt
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 900mls/ 1.5 pints milk ( more if needed)
  6. Some butter for cooking
  • I always use a food processor to make my mix and start by placing the flour into the bowl, adding the sugar if using, close the lid, switch on the machine and add the eggs and milk all at once and mix for a couple of minutes only to make a smooth batter. Pour the mixture into a jug and check the consistency, it should pour like double cream, no thicker, if too thick add more milk.Essential Crêpe making equipment
  • Essential Crêpe making equipment
  • When making pancakes it is by far easier to have a dedicated pancake pan, the sides are almost flat so making it easy to turn or flip the pancakes. Using a piece of paper towel smooth a small amount of butter over the base of the pan and let it get hot, pour in a smallish amount of batter and swirl it around the pan. If the mixture is too thick it will not swirl properly. It can often be the case that the first pancake cooked will not be so good, the pan needs to be seasoned first of all, but after the first one you need to work fairly quickly, a smear of butter, heat, batter swirl , wait until the top is almost dry, flip over for two seconds , tip out and stack.
  • Buckwheat flour which is slight grey in colour
  • Traditionally in the UK pancakes are eaten with just lemon juice and sugar, but any type of filling is fine. In the French Alps, sweet pancakes are with Nutella, Jam, sugar, hot fudge sauce, honey, maple syrup and of course the famous Crêpe Suzette!
  • Crêpe making in Guatemala
    Nutella at the Crêpe stand in Guatemala
  • You can use plain pancakes to make savoury and the combinations are endless, however in the mountains it is as always a combination of cheese, potatoes, ham and cream along with an egg or two, but my favourite is goats cheese, honey and walnuts. Usually in the mountains again, they will make their savoury Crêpe using buckwheat flour, but white flour works as well.
  • People of any age can make Crêpe
  • It is also interesting to see how people eat their Crêpe, fold it over and cut into chunks, leave it flat and cut it into pizza type slices, or make it all come out even, eating your favourite bits in turn. Our lovely friend ( the skiing buddy of Himself) has a very different approach. He chooses the Crêpe that has an egg in the middle and eats all of the Crêpe surrounding the egg, none of this smushing the egg, keep it whole! When he gets to the egg, he carefully slides out the remaining piece of Crêpe leaving the egg glistening, waiting to be eaten! And then? He manages to slide the egg onto his fork, into his mouth and sublimely devour!

    Back to L’Outa

    Screenshot 2019-01-31 at 11.35.16Yesterday, was Willowy Brunettes Birthday, so off we trotted to Les Gets, another small town , part of Les Portes du Soleil, on La Route des Grands Alps and is actually half way between Chamonix and Geneva.



    L’Outa is probably the only restaurant in in the region which is NOT more of the Same Ol”, Same Ol”, ie ham, cheese , potatoes, cream etc. When glancing in from the outside it looks a bit like a smart Antique Shop, old pine everywhere, but really nice. It is only when one spies the menu that one realises that it is indeed a restaurant! Madam, has a very laid back style, once we called , it was in the Autumn, and many restaurants are closed, we asked if they were open, “Oh “says Madam, “call again in the morning and I will let you know !”


    We were fairly early, and so had undivided attention. The menu looked interesting and as I said, none of the tartiflette, croute de fromage ( glorified toasted cheese sandwich) Fondue Savoyard or Raclette! there is a time and place for such things and as I can cook a mean tartiflette and we do have both a raclette machine and a fondue pot, why bother when dining out.

    The menu is not large, but if the food is good, why have a huge menu and given the supply problems in the Alps, perhaps it is not always feasible. 

    Anyhow , the brunette chose what  a tartlette, so some form of tart, with salad type veggies. She said it was lovely except, it was TOAST and not any form of tart, Shame really! Me? I had Fois gras, which was wonderful but then I am always a sucker for Fois Gras, I actually had a dilema, Fois Gras or Riz de Veau. Himself chose the Riz de Veau.

    Which, brings me to Houston Texas. The only place I found to buy such delicacies as Riz de veau was at a Mexican Supermarket. The local american population would not touch the stuff and so the very American ( obviously) supermarkets, just stocked the standard supplies, BUT the Mexican supermarket was very different, including Goat and Donkey and offal ! Wonderful. One day I was cooking Riz de veau, dipping bits in flour and sautéing in butter. Each of my kids wandered past took a bit and said Yum, until they knew what it was and then sadly that was it, they ate no more, Sadly,? well no it left more for myself and of course for himself as well.

    Back to l’Outa, the brunette and myself took the fish option, which was tuna, Langoustines and halibut, just really really tasty whilst himself took the steak with fois gras. Service was good Except, the waiter, smoked, not in front of us, but maybe outside, maybe in the kitchen, who knows, but he stank of stale cigarette, a disappointment but otherwise a nice evening. We skipped dessert, just as well as the Hooray Henries were descending , some sort of Work Do and boy were they loud! So out into the snow and up the seven hairpins to our hide away where the chilled champagne awaited us. Happy Birthday SnowPea !

    Fish pie any other name!

    Having had my rant about food additives, I’m ready to move on. Back to real food and restaurants.

    Here on the mountains we have had ( Old but not OLD) friends to stay. Very easy to have, once you understand that he does not really like meat ( especially things like beef, stews, etc) I don’t think it is on any ethical grounds but memories of some pretty disgusting boarding school dinners!

    Not a problem, Willowy brunette is of a similar ilk, and as much as I like a good steak, or hamburger I would normally choose something fishy as first choice.

    The first evening I decided to make a version of Koulibiac / Coulibiac, there are, of course, many different ideas on how to make this, but it is basically a salmon fish pie. Normally it is made in “Freeform” but there is nothing to say that it can not be made into a real pie, in a dish!

    So enough for 4-6 people

    1. +/-500 grams salmon
    2. A packet of frozen spinach ( defrosted and drained)
    3. 4oz smoked salmon slices
    4. 4 hard boiled eggs ( chopped)
    5. 2 packets of frozen or fresh puff pastry , defrosted.

    Lightly poach the salmon in either some milk or some white wine, but make sure it is only very lightly poached. Remove from liquid drain and flake into chunks

    Roll out one of the pastries into a round ( here in France it is possible to buy pastry all ready rolled in a round ), AND I have just found a French version available on Ocado, so it really makes life easy! I have to admit that although I make nearly all that we eat from scratch, no ready made sauces, gravies, soups and salad dressings, I have not made puff pastry in years!

    Lightly grease a quiche type dish or deeper if you have one, line it with the pastry, paint the pastry with an egg white wash, this will help to seal the pastry and stop it from getting soggy. Next cover the pastry with the smoked salmon, then the drained spinach, then the chopped egg and finally the salmon flakes.

    Moisten the edges of the pastry and put on top of this the other sheet of pastry, press the edges with you thumbs to make an indentation and to seal the pie. Using the rest of the egg white beaten with the yolk, paint the top of the pie, to glaze it.

    Bake at 180C for about 20 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve with a good salad, one could think that this would serve 6 people, but have to say it was eaten by just the four of us!

    And it snowed, stayed cold and the sun shone ! Perfect!

    Brexiteers, be careful for what you wish!

    A few days ago I read an article from the New York Times ( Dec.28/2018, entitled “What foods are banned in Europe but not banned in the US” )which stated that after Brexit ( assuming that it goes ahead) the UK will probably have to accept food imports from the USA. Currently many of these food stuffs are banned under EU rules because of the additives that are allowed in the USA, but not in the EU.

    Nutella, uses Palm Oil, which can be a NO No because of Endangered Orangutan

    A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog on this subject, and in fact it is quiet scary, what is allowed in the USA and not in many other countries.

    BHA and BHT are substances which are banned in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and the EU, however are still used in the USA particularly in snack foods such as crisps.

    Azodicarbonamide, is used for the texture in cheap white bread, is used in the USA by MacDonalds and Burger king in their Burger Buns., it is banned in the countries above, AND if a company uses it in Singapore, they can get a large fine and 15 years in gaol! Its shortened name is simply AZODI and is often called the Yoga Mat additive as it is also found in Yoga Mats, as it is light and strong! Fancy eating your Yoga Mat, No, I don’t think so ! But can be found in over 500 products or restaurants in the USA!

    Bovine growth hormone, banned in the EU, in 1981: but was approved by the FDA in the USA, in 1993.

    Potassium Bromate, used in the USA in flour, but again banned in the EU.

    Food colourings , especially Blue dye #1, Yellow dye numbers 5 and 6 and Red 40. The yellow dyes are used in ready meals, colourings for some cereals and the bright yellow of American Cheese., and also American M and M’s are more colourful than those which are sold in EU? Why because the colourants are banned in the EU. I remember many many years ago checking the food dye numbers on the packets of sweets that I bought my kids as a special treat !

    Looking at Maille, the crème de la crème of mustard manufacturers, the mustard does not have any real additives, but the Mayo has a colourant E224. However it is approved in the EU and is also found in frozen shell fish, frozen vegetables, fruit juice, and WINE !

    (Many soft drinks in the USA contain BVO, but again this is banned in EU and Japan.

    Apart from sugar contains E150 which is caramel, approved.

    Poultry feed in the USA is likely to contain traces of Arsenic! And of course totally banned in the EU!

    Many, many foods in the USA and the EU contain natural flavourings, but how natural is natural? This has not been banned in the EU, but to my mind it should be, as it is a total CON. Never buy olive oil that states Truffles. Unless it actually has a truffle floating around inside, it has never been near a truffle but more likely closer to a chemists bench! The flavouring is in fact, 2,4-dithiapentane, which is as cheap as chips, but, the Fake Truffle Oil certainly is not !

    Other dubious additives include, BHA ( can interrupt endocrine functions); BHT, has caused cancer in Rats, Propyl Gallate and Propyl Paraben along with Theobromine. All allowed in the USA, due in part as the FDA allows the industry to self regulate !, But all are banned in the EU!

    However my favourite, a really bad one is OLESTRA . I remember this being hailed, when we lived in the USA, as the big new thing for the food industry. What could be better? Zero calories, Zero grams of cholesterol and Zero grams of fat? Eat as many potato Chips as you like and never put on an ounce. In January 1996, the FDA approved OLESTRA as a food additive. Cut out the unhealthy cooking oil. Dump the shortening. Trash the butter. Frito-Lay was among the first companies to jump on board, introducing its WOW! division of potato chips in 1998 to claim fat-free stomach satisfaction. However  Olestra was of course too good to be true. It  removed the fat from food but also stopped the body from absorbing vital vitamins . Side effects included cramps, gas and chronic diarrhoea! And so “Another diet myth bites the dust:” Products containing the calorie-less fake fat Olean, ( trade name, ) of fat-free potato chips fame, may make you gain weight, not lose it.still  legal food additive in the USA despite  the obvious side effects.

    Someone once said, if your Grandmother wouldn’t give it to you, then don’t buy it or eat it !

    I think the bottom line is, avoid processed food, as far as possible and read the food labels. It will be interesting to see what happens after Brexit and more food stuffs from the USA enter the UK, I guess we will have to be more vigilant, GOOD LUCK!

    Le Bonheur est Simple

    Here in the mountains there is a simple motto, Le Bonheur est Simple! This means a lot in parts of France, most of the shops take a two to three hour lunch break, they often don’t open until 10 am and shut at 12, when there is a mass exodus up or down the mountains, because of La Grande Bouffe, ( Lunch). Lunchtime is sacrosanct!

    But it also means a very relaxed approach to life, taking the cows in the spring to the Alpage ( summer meadows) where the owners often stay with their herds in little Mazots ( small wooden sheds) without electricity nor running water. It also means sitting and having a cup of coffee with friends or un petit verre ( a glass of wine or genepi).

    On Saturday, we decamped down the Mountain to Chamonix, the very pretty Mountain town, the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924. It was the Brits who developed Chamonix as a resort in the late 1800’s as part of La Grand Tour! And of course it does help to have the highest mountain in Europe, namely Mont Blanc!

    It is possible to go up the Aiguille du Midi Cable car both winter and summer, but is expensive, €61 for adults and €52 for children, or you can go halfway ( half the price) to Le Plan du Aiguille, where in summer it is possible to travers the mountain to the upper station of the Montenvers train. There is another train The Tramway, which also provides the climbing route for Mont Blanc itself. There are other cable cars in Chamonix ,which are also cheaper and go up the other side of the town, which then gives the visitors a wonderful view of Mont Blanc.

    Walking across to the Montenvers train.

    But I digress, we went to Chamonix to go to the market, yes, Saturday is market day. We have never been to this market in winter before and so it was interesting to see how innovative the traders were in an effort to keep warm. The fruit and vegetable sellers had plastic tents surrounding them, along with heaters inside, as did the flower seller. Others worked outside with portable heaters or just thermal clothes, boots and gloves.Always at these markets are the fruit and veg sellers, the cheese people, the sausage and cold meat sellers, the fish man and two sellers that I can not get my head around. The Pain d’Epices, which is basically gingerbread but drier and the Nougat seller! I did ask the Monsieur “The what and the why? The answer, quiet simply , ” They have a sweet tooth and eat it like chocolate !The other almost permanent residents of the markets, are the cooked chicken seller and the Choucroute seller, the chicken people always have a large queue for their chickens and not such a big queue for the Choucroute, but nonetheless a queue.

    We also visited a Fruitiere, ( have not worked out where this name came from, but is a cheese maker, or farm products, cheese butter, eggs etc.) This was the Coopérative Fruitière en Val d’Arly Savoie Mont Blanc, the selection of local products was impressive and we ended up buying a cheese, similar to Mont D’Or but made in the Val d’arly and with raw milk.

    I had planned Peking Duck for dinner, but this had to wait and so Le Bonheur était Simple, Dinner became cheese and potatoes and salad!

    Also whilst in Chamonix we visited a museum, which gave a potted history of the town and a tearoom, which was awash with Macaroons! I must remember to bring #1 grandson here in the summer as not only did they have Macaroons but Meringues as well, both of which he loves ( as do the others).On our return journey, down the mountain road which I really dislike , we came across in Cluses, a dreary town halfway between Chamonix and ourselves, the only protestors of Les Gilets Jaunes, I have to say they were not very impressive!

    So far on this visit, I have learnt three new French words, Spaghetteria, Omeletterie, and Boulonerie! The first two are obvious but the third ? Bolt Department! The French government often tries to prohibit the anglicisation of French words, but maybe they have better things to worry about at the moment.

    Le Bonheur est Simple

    The Law of Unintended Consequences!

    We arrived in our Mountain Retreat as 2018 was drawing to a close, but we still had time to drive down 7 hairpin bends, get to the grocery store before the French finished their lunch break and descended upon the store to fill up for Reveillon ( French New Years Eve).

    My Swiss neighbours pulled a face saying ” il y aura du Monde! ( very busy) but we know better, nothing will deter our French from taking their 2-3 hour lunch break and as a consequence, the store was almost half empty. Even the shelf fillers were no where to be seen. At 13.55 they appeared lugging or pushing the shelf filler equivalent of a Pantechnicon , just the right size to block the aisles, but Hey they have a job to do, forget the shoppers, it is Reveillon!

    We arrived at the fish counter, it was looking a bit sad, not a lot to choose from, but we did not want fish, we wanted Oysters, as Himself declared that he would do Oysters Rockefeller on New Year’s Day . Perfect, only a small problem, not an oyster in sight. Oysters on New Years Eve are de rigour, so where were they? Stuck in Calais or in Normandy or in Brittany. There was hand written note, saying, Maybe at 2 pm, which then became 3.30! So we decided to go further down the mountain to the next grocery store, I was dropped off to go in search of the fast becoming Forbidden Fruit. NO Oysters to be seen ! ( a large box of really large Shrimp ) I timidly asked the fish man ” il y a des Huitres? S’il vous plâit? He looked at me and scurried out the back door and returned bearing a small wooden crate ( an oyster box)! Normally the shops are stacked with oyster boxes and it is perfectly normal to buy the box, no self respecting Oyster lover would buy just a few. But he said” it’s the last one, how many do you want? The box held 36 so not wishing to be greedy I took 24; only, without asking even the price!

    So what is my point here? Les Gilets Jaunes is the point! What started out as a protest about fuel prices has morphed into a protest agains all and sundry ( the French Love to protest). Consequently the Oyster men on the West Coast have had their Christmas and New Year ruined by these actions and probably have stocks which they now have to destroy!

    Quell Domage, is all I can say !

    New Years Eve was spent across the road at our lovely neighbours, occasional Expats like us, and other friends who live here permanently. Carolyn cooked a really interesting starter. A whole baked celeriac, courtesy of Ottolenghi. I love celeriac but always serve it as a purée, so this was like a giant baked potato served with sour cream and lemon juice, Yummy! Something I need to try for myself. Have already reported on this new found delight to #1 son ! So watch this space for more.

    So onto New Year’s Day, no shops open, no parade to go and watch, but a walk was in order.

    A drive to the top of the mountain, donned snow shoes and set off! The sun was shining, the ski tourers were coming down from the top of another mountain, children were sledging and Mont Blanc glistened in the distance.

    Back, at Chez Nous, Himself set to with the oysters. If you like oysters but find the idea of shucking them too daunting, then explore a fish shop and you might find a device which’ makes shucking a ‘Piece of Cake”!

    Traditional oyster knife in front and the easy version.

    so whilst Himself was busy with oysters I made a seafood sauce for the shrimp. I very much winged it by what I had in the cupboard.

    I sautéed a chopped onion and 3 cloves of garlic until soft, then I added a can of tomatoes a small can of tomato sauce, half a tube of tomato purée and a small can of Chipotle chillies, let them amalgamate and then using a stick blende gave it a quick wiz to really blend and then added half a jar of horseradish sauce and a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce. ( no ketchup, no Mayo, no sour cream) A final tasting, done covered and put outside to chill ( it was below freezing outside)

    Meanwhile he was making the filling for the oysters. It is also a bit of This and That. He chopped 2 shallots and sautéed them in some oil along with several cloves of garlic and some chopped rashers of bacon, ( bacon, pancetta or lardons will suffice, but make sure they are crisp) then he added a whole bag ( about 500 grams) of frozen creamed spinach along with about 4 Oz butter and a cup of breadcrumbs AND a good swing of Pernod a quick taste, added some chilli flakes and fennel seeds, and done ! Filled the shells with the oysters and spinach mixture topped with grated Parmesan and baked at 450/230/8 for about 10 minutes until the tops are golden and crisp.

    Also on this topic, I have found some alternative recipes for oysters. Oysters, crawfish and shrimp abound in Louisiana ( could be one reason to live there, or maybe not). Oysters Bienville, an egg rich shrimp topping, Oysters Rousseau similar to Rockefeller but slightly different , no spinach. Oyster Loaf, Oysters en brochettes Cajun Oyster Pie, oyster and Artichoke Bisque, Creole Oyster Stuffing and Oyster Patties ( Vol au Vent), this one I have made, using canned oysters and easy nibble to have at a drinks party. And not forgetting one of my favourites, Oyster PO Boys ( pronounced Poor Boys) Freida oysters in a French bread sandwich!

    On a final note, once again I am amazed at the choice of cereals in the supermarket, all very sweet and almost all with chocolate. Himself occasionally has cereal, muesli , but I make the mix myself, so even that does not have added sugar let alone chocolate!