Thursday, 29 September 2011

No-Nonsense Nutrition and Gimmick Free Grazing at Healthy Supplies...

A few weeks ago I blogged about Graze; an online pay-as-you-go snackery, purporting to provide healthy eating by post. 

Much to the dismay of some readers (I didn’t actually think I had any!) my review was if anything, a little derogatory.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘gimmick factor,’ akin to the Graze experience; the cutesy packaging, and the rating based selection process, I was shocked to learn that my ‘nutritious’ yet petit nibble box was in fact laden with more calories than your average Burger King Combo.

Yes, yes... I know it’s not the same... the saturated fats in a Whopper meal are certainly incomparable to a punnet of fennel seeds, but still, hardly what you’d expect from a supplier of self proclaimed health foods is it?

In light of this shocking discovery, I began pondering as to whether Graze had missed a trick, and to whether there were more calorie friendly ways of obtaining similar products, through the convenience of mail order.

After a quick ‘Google’ session, (one of my favourite past-times) I hit on a website for the rather aptly named ‘Healthy Supplies,’ an online health food store ran with a passion for non-nonsense, tasty yet affordable and healthy snacks.
Being a cheeky as well as greedy bovine, I dropped them an email asking if they were willing to take part in a little comparative study.
To my surprise, within hours of my forthright proposition, the lovely Brendan Fernandes, one half of the founding couple, enthusiastically sent his reply.
Like me, Brendan appreciated the ‘gimmick factor’ behind Graze, but was sceptical about their credibility as providers of genuinely healthy food.
As a result, (and of course uninfluenced by my shamefully angling email) he offered to send me a few of his favourite nibbles which he felt not only rivalled Graze on the taste test, but also outshone them in terms of nutrition, quantity and price.

Needless to say, I all but bit his hand off, and relished the opportunity to pit Graze and its trendy yet compelling marketing, against a more down to earth, and grassroots competitor.

So, in the words of John Anderson, ‘Contenders... Ready!?’

Saturday morning wouldn’t be the same without a pyjama clad dash down the street, in pursuit of the postman.

After knowing one another for about 3 years, I have learnt the he has no patience. He on the other hand, has learnt that I know no shame, particularly when it comes to taking delivery of a goody laden box of delights, courtesy of online health food store, Healthy Supplies.

As I push my way past a yawning semi naked Mr Cow (not the prettiest of sights at the best of times) I plonk the substantially sized box on the table, rip open the lid in cavewoman-like fashion and distribute the contents.

No tiny punnets; no cutsey packaging or delicately chosen product names. There aren’t any personalised inserts or explanations as to how a particular seed combo will increase my office productivity, or how a portion of goji berries will help me stave off fatigue.
Just health food, plain and simple; stripped bare of gimmick or overly decorative arrangement, and sweetened only by the practical addition of a couple of keep fresh food clips.

‘What’s all this then?’ Asks a perplexed Mr Cow and I continue to leaf through my delivery.

‘Breakfast.’ I reply.

Snapz Vegetable Chips – Paprika Carrot and Crunchy Beetroot

Most of us by now will be familiar with concept of vegetable crisps; whether avid weight watchers or not, they’re hardly a new innovation.
What most people neglect to realise however, is that although deliciously moreish, the majority of products bearing this tag are not particularly good for us. After all, a parsnip fried to within an inch of its life in vegetable oil, isn’t really much more saintly than a potato receiving similar treatment.* 

Nonetheless, according to Snapz, their chips are different; and as you’d expect from any chip synonymous with healthy eating, are baked as opposed to fried. 

Made from entirely natural ingredients, each serving of Snapz chips are low in fat, low in calories, and commendably even qualify as a portion of your ‘5-a-day.’

So… what’s the catch? They taste like cardboard right?

Well actually no, not in the slightest; they taste like vegetables – and providing that this is a quality that appeals its consumer, serve as an incredibly enjoyable snack.

I won’t pretend that these chips are revolutionary or life changing, because they’re really not. They don’t look, taste or smell anything like the real thing, or for that matter, the majority of mainstream ‘Vegetable Crisps’ available in our supermarkets.
That being said, Snapz don’t purport to; and instead claim only to provide wholesome, baked, crunchy vegetables, cooked in a way which accentuates natural flavours, without exaggerating calorie content; a stake they triumphantly achieve.

With subtle seasonings, adequate quantities and a mere 74 calories a pack, they may not lead their consumers to a lifetime of Walker’s abstinence, but they certainly provide an enjoyable and unique alternative.

Hoofs up.

* See Tyrells Parnip Crisps…. They actually contain more saturated fat than their regular potato chips!

Sun Dried Banana Chips

One of my main gripes about Graze was the cheeky addition of chocolate coatings, meringue pieces, or honey glazings to their otherwise healthy products.
Whilst I won't pretend that chocolate offends me, or that sugar is the root of all evil, the over-reliant use of it within Graze’s nibble boxes did indeed have dramatic effect on both the calorie and sugar content of each punnet. 

In light of this, it was refreshing to receive a more unadorned fruit snack, stripped bare of additional sweeteners, and consisting of simply one sole ingredient; banana.

Ripened and sun-dried in Uganda, these organic and chewy banana chips by Tropical Wholefoods, deliver on taste, consistency, and freshness.
Unlike many of the freeze dried banana offerings available in most supermarkets, these snacks are so overwhelmingly bursting with favour, that it would seem sacrilegious to scatter them over muesli, or loose them in a bowlful of porridge; let alone coat them in dark chocolate.

Containing all the health benefits, vitamins and nutrition akin to the good old herbaceous plant (yes I mean banana but I’ve said it so many times already), the credentials of these babies are unquestionable.
Delicious, filling and with an incredible natural sweetness, my only gripe is that these chips are so good, portion control is damn near impossible.

Just watch out for potassium poisoning; I hear it’s brutal.

Nakd Raw Fruit and Nut Bars

Cereal and snack bars have had a reasonably hard time as of late.
With so many purporting to qualify as healthy snacks or breakfast replacements, yet later being exposed with high sugar and calorie contents, most health conscious shoppers tend to be a little dubious.

So what about Nakd’s Raw Fruit and Nut Bars?
Well the name isn’t too enamouring granted. But you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and once you sample either the Cashew Cookie or Cocoa Delight, you’ll soon be back tracking and wondering why you’d never heard of these before.

Gluten, wheat and dairy free, the Nakd range taste like no other snack or cereal bar I have ever been fortunate enough to sample.
Moist, sweet and almost brownie like in texture, you would never imagine that each bar is made solely from fruits and nuts, contain no more than 145 calories a portion, and are cooked… well they’re not cooked… they’re raw silly.

With a sense of naughtiness akin to eating a slice of cake or bar of chocolate, despite the fact that each serving actually contains one whole portion of fruit, you almost want to run a bath, poor yourself a glass of wine, and play the music from the ‘Flake’ commercial as you indulge.
As an advocate of a balanced review I have to add that unfortunately Mr Cow did not share my sentiments, nor understand my desire to be ‘alone’ with my Cashew Cookie bar.
Nonetheless, since I appeared to have developed an unfounded infatuation with the former, I did not object to his unfounded opinion, and was happy that the miniscule piece I offered him, was both his first and last. 

Silly Mr Cow.

Clear Springs Organic Fruit Puree

Its 3.00pm; two whole hours since lunchtime, and you’re beginning to get peckish. The vending machine outside your office door is starting to call to you, and those stale cream cakes someone brought in last week are suddenly regaining appeal.

But don’t worry, you have reserves. You clever thing you, you have copious amounts of healthy snacks in your top drawer, on hand for this very occasion.
So what will it be….
A tub of fruit puree?

Yes. Indeed. Not the typical food type you would perhaps associate with snacking, and when pitted against a chocolate éclair or kitkat chunky, it’s appeal doesn’t fair so well.
Nonetheless, after sampling a tub of Apple and Mango puree by Clear Springs, I may have to rethink my office stash.
Available in handy little sealed pots, these 60 calorie snacks are perfect to have in reserve. Each tub is long life, keeping for anywhere up to a year, and as you’d expect by now for a product revered by ‘Healthy Supplies,’ contain a one of your ‘5-a-day.’

Okay, so the puree itself doesn’t look too attractive, and for the more superficial amongst us (I’m including myself here) this may have some bearing. But if you can overcome this minor setback, you will find each portion sweet, filling and deliciously tasty.
Sure you may get some odd looks from your co-workers as you seemingly chow down on a pot of baby food, but who cares what they think…. Right? 

I’d be lying if I said that a part of me hadn’t enjoyed signing up to Graze – the mini handbag sized punnets labelled with cutsey dessert-esk names, the personalised insert explaining what was in my box and why – for a minute I too was nearly blinded by its marketing.

But let’s face it, when stripped away of all it’s flashy gimmick, there’s not much left other than a handful of sugar coated raisins, and an invite to express any disdain by way of their online rating system.
For a company whose tag line is ‘Nature Delivered,’ I find this rather ironic; in reality, there’s very little natural about Graze or the products they provide.

In contrast, Healthy Supplies offer a much more organic service to those who are willing to forgo the aforementioned trimmings.
The products on offer are vast, and since the consumer buys in more reasonable quantities, much more affordable.
The food is simple, exceedingly natural and rustically delicious; and although fruit puree’s and vegetable crisps won’t be to everyone’s taste, they are undeniably healthy.

So there’s no flashy website, no graphs correlating sugar levels to brain activity, or pie charts pitting pre-packed sandwiches against raw almonds. But in reality, do we really need all that information anyway? Surely those landing on a ‘healthy eating’ website, need no more persuasion than that which has led them there in the first place.

Of course for some, Graze will retain its appeal; and as a well rounded individual, I (reluctantly) respect those who are willing to pay that little bit more, for an awful lot less. But one thing’s for sure, next time this cow feels like a graze, I’ll be making my own nibble box, from my very own stash of healthy supplies. (Tell ‘em the Cow sent you ;-))

P.S. Due to increase in demand, Healthy Supplies are currently unable to take orders for Nakd’s Cashew Cookie Bars. All stock has been reserved by a Miss S Cow.


picknickhead said...

i have just ordered my free box from graze im hoping but not expecting all the goddies the graze website promised. If the graze foods are really as uneventful as you say i will be more than happy to move on to some of the products you mentioned. :)

Teli said...

I've recently signed up to Graze, and from what I understand, you aren't meant to eat everything that comes in your box at once. If you look at the calorie information, it's true that there are actually alot of calories in the total box, but as it's for snacking- i.e, eating small amounts from, I assumed that it wasn't intended to be consumed in its entirety in one sitting. I'm sure it's up to each individual, but I'm not a heavy snacker myself, and I use the graze box to control my snacking (by tracking calories) and enjoy a bigger variety of things while I work.