I was intrigued having written my last post how different my choice to adopt Huel has made my nutritional intake. If lunch via Huel was really not that different from Subway, what about a comparison to my usual breakfast?
Last week I started using Huel for the first time. (It feels a bit odd to say “using” like that but I can’t really think of a better word. Technically I’m drinking it but telling people that I am drinking my meals makes me sound like an alcoholic.) I’m very conscious that I’m only at the start of my Huel journey and there is plenty of opportunity to become bored, frustrated by hunger, or even to have adverse reactions to having Huel instead of some of my meals. When I say adverse reactions, I’m not talking about anything serious, but there is always the possibility that the form of Huel disagrees with me over medium-long term.
I think I need to wait a little longer before making an assessment of its impact on me, but I have a couple of immediate thoughts. Read More
A while ago I posted an article named It’s not people, but is it palatable? The article was about Soylent, the powder that you could mix with water and take instead of eating. I expressed interest, scepticism, and ultimately disappointment that I couldn’t try it myself. For a while I checked every so often to see if they had expanded operations to the UK, which they still haven’t.
A year and a half later, I’d forgotten about it, but then happened to come across something else: Huel. It’s a very similar concept (down to the minimalist website with an athletic-looking guy pouring beige liquid into a glass), and it was not just available, but originated in the UK. In fact, the two main players as far as I can see are currently Huel and Joylent, the latter of which not only comes from the Netherlands, but rather daringly posts their last three reviews on the front page of their website, which at the time of writing are not all positive. Read More
I follow food trends wherever I can, although I must say I don’t usually follow them to the point of trying all of them. But it’s interesting to see the trends.
The interesting food I’ve seen recently is Skyr, which is a so-called ‘super-yoghurt’ apparently from Iceland (although the website quickly informs us that it is made in Germany). I saw some big billboard ads that made it seem traditional (apparently it has been eaten for hundreds of years) and yet very healthy too. The main statement about its nutrition on the website is that it is “fat free, reduced sugar, high protein”.
I wanted to see what the fuss was about so I thought I’d get myself some and treat myself to a super-snack.
So the second day into my challenge, it was time to shake things up. It was inconceivable that a decent breakfast would fit into something so small, but here is a picture of my proposed breakfast for day 2:
Once again, I stuck to the rules from the start of the challenge. At 09.20 I opened up (with a straw) and tasted my breakfast.
The first thing that hit me was incredible sweetness to the flavour. I don’t mind sweet things too much but this was…too much. And it was incredibly artificial, with a vanilla taste that doesn’t really exist in normal food.
After that, it started tasting of oats – and in fact, there was an oat texture to it. At this point it felt a bit like a watery porridge, but not in a bad way. To be honest, it took a fair amount of time to finish the breakfast (4 minutes or so), mostly because it wasn’t entirely appealing to drink. The fact that it was through a straw also slowed things down.
As for initial feelings, apart from the overwhelming sweetness and vanilla taste, I was fairly satisfied by this carton of breakfast. I was actually pleasantly surprised that it filled me up a fair bit.
Later on, I started to feel a bit hungry a bit earlier, but not terribly so. Once again I was able to resist the temptation to buy anything more for my lunch without much difficulty.
Ingredients: Skimmed Milk (reconstituted) (43%), Water, Wholegrain Oat Flour (3.2%), Sugar, Fructose, Inulin, Soy Protein, Maize Starch, Milk Protein Concentrate, Vegetable Oils (Sunflower, Rapeseed), Minerals (Tricalcium Phosphate, Sodium Polyphosphate), Acidity Regulator (E332), Stabilisers (E460, E466, E407), Flavouring, Dried Cream Extract, Salt, Vitamins (D, C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, B6, Folic Acid, B12)
Now, this ingredients list is slightly worrying. My suspicion is that it’s long because it needs to have a certain consistency and longevity given that it is in liquid form in a carton, but I am the kind of person for whom the longer the ingredients list, the more worried I get. It just doesn’t feel right.
On the whole I was impressed by how full I felt from this breakfast in a bottle. It was quick (though not that enjoyable) to eat (drink?), and it didn’t involve any faff or cleaning up. And it kept me full, even if I felt a little light-headed from the sugar rush.
However, at £1.39 per day, this isn’t great value for money. Perhaps buying it in bulk would be better, but unless it got down to about 70 or 80p, I don’t think I could do this long term – not unless flavour and satisfaction were improved.
- Convenience: 10/10
- Taste: 6/10
- Immediate satisfaction: 7/10
- Long term satisfaction: 7/10
- Value for money: 6/10
As any scientist would tell you, if you’re going to change things, it’s best to have a benchmark for comparison – a control result. And so with my Breakfast Challenge I have started with the trusty, dependable Cuppa Porridge to give me something to compare against others.
The concept is simple: you put the porridge into a mug, and you add hot water, and stir, and hopefully you get tasty porridge in a mug which is easy to eat and clean (you eat it with a spoon).
As ever, I prepared it at 09.20, the reason for which I mention in my other post. And, as predicted, it was easy to prepare – just 2 minutes and I was ready to eat my porridge.
The flavour I went for was apple and blueberry – again a tried and tested flavour. They’ve done well to go for these flavours – they’re sweet and appealing but quite easy to get into a pre-prepared breakfast without tasting artificial. So the aroma coming off the porridge was already great, and I must say the initial feelings on eating it were of satisfaction. It was a nice, hot breakfast to have and really hit the spot when I was getting a little hungry.
In terms of consistency, the feeling wasn’t so much of thick, oaty porridge which you’d have to chew – it felt more like ready brek (does that still exist?). It was almost smooth but had an oaty taste to it. Not unappealing at all, and I suppose you have to make do with the fact that you’re not cooking rolled oats for 15 minutes.
I was able to eat it while working pretty easily in about 5 minutes, and was on the whole just right for my hunger at that point. Within a couple of hours, I was starting to feel hungry but I didn’t feel the need to buy anything additional to my veg box at 11.30 and my lunch at 12.30. Perhaps later on, I was feeling a bit hungry again, but not to the point of having to supplement the meals of the day.
Ingredients: Quaker Wholegrain Rolled Oats (63%), Semi Skimmed Milk Powder, Sugar, Natural Flavouring
On the whole it was a great way to start the day. And at £2.59 for 5 packs, it works out at 52p per pack, which is pretty good value. And the great thing here is that I can have this breakfast wherever I am, as long as there is hot water and a mug. The only real downside was washing up the mug afterwards, which was a little tricky (especially if you leave it for an hour – the porridge formed a crust which was surprisingly hard).
- Convenience: 7/10
- Taste: 9/10
- Immediate satisfaction: 8/10
- Long term satisfaction: 8/10
- Value for money: 9/10
On social media I recently came across a product which seems to be so appealing on the one hand and yet so tragic on another. The product is Soylent, which claims to be a full replacement for all nutrients in a powder, which you mix with water to make a shake (the featured image is from the website). You drink the shake instead of eating your meals and you get everything you need, nutritionally, and apparently it might even taste okay. Read More
I have a bit of a split personality when it comes to food. Sometimes I just want to get meals out of the way, and eat really quickly – and I don’t care what I eat. This is often the case for breakfast on weekdays, where I just want to get on with work (but get properly fuelled) – so I usually go for an oatmeal-in-a-mug arrangement.
At other times I just want to take things slowly and put the meal together properly – and it doesn’t matter how long it takes to cook. This usually applies on the weekends and sometimes in the evening too; when I want something satisfying, tasty, and interesting to eat.
So there’s often a trade off between packet-sauces and ingredients-based sauces. A typical example would be a stir-fry sauce: a brownish-liquid with a claim to be oyster sauce or plum sauce or hoisin sauce. I honestly couldn’t identify them on a taste test.
However, putting them together from ingredients is much more satisfying. So yesterday my meal plan subscription (they provide fresh ingredients and you do the cooking – just not the deciding or the shopping) gave me what was essentially a stir-fry. It was a really complex affair with cornflour on the beef and all sorts of other preparation, but the key thing here was the sauce. It had a bunch of ingredients:
- Light soy sauce
- Chinese 5 spice
- Muscvado sugar
- Beef stock
- Squeeze of lime juice
How much better is that than a store-bought packet! You have good control as to what goes in (let’s face it, who has read an ingredients list and understood every single ingredient?), and there is more likelihood of having individual characteristics of each of the ingredients coming through. So rather than being a gloopy generic flavour, you get hints of lime and the five spices and saltiness and so on. And it taught me a little bit about sauces too, something I don’t know enough about. It was completely worth the extra 10 or so minutes it took to assemble the ingredients rather than open a packet.
So I resolve: next time I make a stir fry, I’m going to look into making it from scratch.