Recently, I was provided an opportunity to sample several varieties of powdered foods from PowderedFoods.com. The concept of powdered food isn't entirely a new one, but it has seen a resurgence in popularity following the Kickstarter for Soylent, with people taking to the DIY community and producing their own blends and variants. Not everyone wanted to completely do it themselves for their own reasons, which is one reason why the Powdered Foods Marketplace exists.
I was provided the chance to sample ten different flavors, and elected to establish the following baseline procedure to make my experience easier to reproduce for others:
A standard sized meal is usually between 600 and 700 calories, depending on the meal selected and its contents. This makes the samples a third of (or less) the size of a full meal.
I was provided ten flavors. These flavors are:
Without further introduction, let us review.
This was the first of the packets I opened. I couldn't really smell the powder before adding water, but once water was added and I shook the mixture in my bottle to get a good mix, I opened the bottle and took a sniff. The scent, to me, was somewhat metallic -- a scent I often associate with quinoa. However, there is no quinoa in this mix -- it contains flax seeds in a plentiful amount, hemp hearts, rice flour, soy protein, dextrose, sesame seeds, and a vitamin and mineral blend.
The initial taste when I took a sip caused me to grimace. I found it unpleasant, and nearly unpalatable for those first few sips. The taste profile was bitter/metallic and bland. I did continue to drink until half of the meal had been consumed, but I couldn't drink it quickly. Do note, however, that you will need to re-mix or reshake if you let your meal sit for more than five minutes unattended, as the flax does settle near the bottom of the bottle otherwise. It is slightly thick, with a notable texture due to the flax seeds. However, once I added a packet of sucralose to the remaining amount and shook, I did find the rest of the meal mostly palatable, with the bitter/metallic taste becoming bearable. As warned, once the meal has been finished, be prepared to be thirsty -- I needed water about fifteen to twenty minutes after I finished.
Overall Verdict: This meal would probably taste better if mixed with a non-neutral liquid or semi-solid (milk, kefir, a non-acidic fruit juice) instead of water, or if the sweetener of choice is added during initial mixing. Be aware that mixing with anything other water does change the amount of calories you will consume; If you are on a strict eating lifestyle change that limits your calories, you may need to bear the taste when using a full sized meal serving (675 calories) to prevent going over the limit.
I opened this one up, expecting cocoa, and the scent delivered. You could smell notes of chocolate on the air once the powder was opened -- they lingered for a moment, at least before dissipating. Mixing the powder with water and letting it sit shows that the heavier particles precipitate quickly. Be prepared to shake the mix if it sits for a few minutes. Like the previous mix, the ingredients were largely the same, but for the addition of chocolate and sugar. Considering the composition, this makes me think that the chocolate used is a milk chocolate, rather than a dark chocolate.
The initial mouthful was a bit better than that of the earlier reviewed low carb organic mix, but it still had a bit of a lack. Since it is low sugar -- 26 grams in a 670 calorie serving versus 45 grams in the same serving size, it doesn't have a cloying sweetness, but the reduced sugar also changes the taste profile overall, making it a bit hard to palate, but still drinkable with a little effort. The added packet of sucralose after half a serving did benefit the overall taste of this meal, making it very easy to finish in a few short gulps.
The texture is very similar to the low carbohydrate organic mix, but slightly smoother. I surmise that because there was less attempting to compensate for a lack of carbs, the meal's composition could be a bit less flaxy in taste and build. Overall, I'd take this with a grain (or a gram) of non-nutritive sweetener, and maybe consider mixing it with milk, if you are a fan of the taste of milk chocolate. Again, if you're on a strict eating lifestyle change, remember that your liquid of choice counts as additional calories. Plan accordingly.
When I opened this one and got a whiff, I caught myself grabbing onto a tiny sliver of my childhood. This meal treated my olfactory senses to a hint of a cake mix with a nutty undertone, before I even got it into my bottle for mixing. After mixing it, the somewhat nutty scent of flax took over, standing atop the hints of cake-like smell. Given the high fiber content per serving (14 grams of dietary fiber in one full sized serving), the presence of flax is expected and welcome.
After the previous two tastings, I found myself surprised as I took in that first mouthful. The sweetness of this mix is well balanced -- it's not cloyingly sweet and noisome as I somewhat feared it would be. A full sized meal, of note, would contain 42 grams of sugar. I was able to spare myself the packet of sucralose for this particular meal, finishing my sample rather quickly. Of course, and again, due to the flax seeds and other ingredients, the meal does settle rather quickly. If it sits, please shake or mix it before you continue for better results.
Overall Verdict: Palatable, and dare I say it, tasty? This one is an enjoyable neutral base, and may lend itself well to boosting the nutrient level of a fruit or vegetable smoothie, as well as standing on its own.
This one, when I opened it, its smell reminded me of some popular brand of hot chocolate mix with some rhyming name. The scent was underwhelming when dry -- not much to write home about. Once I mixed it, the chocolate scent was slightly stronger than that of the flax, which did cause me to raise an eyebrow.
I tipped up the bottle and started to drink this one, and was somewhat surprised that I was able to nearly finish this one in one go. I had to stop to look at how it settles, and like the others, it does settle quickly, but not quite as quickly as the others. I suspect this is due to the additional protein that was added, versus the flax. This one has slightly less sugar in it, compared to the other non-low carb version I tried, but with the chocolate being present, would benefit from a hint of additional sweetness. The taste of chocolate was not overwhelming, fortunately.
Overall Verdict: Not bad. It does need a small amount of taste tweaking, like that hint of sweetness to help balance the other tastes, however. It may benefit from a taste profile change by mixing with a non-neutral liquid such as milk, or the addition of one tablespoon of cinnamon or cassia and a small amount of additional water.
This one smelled sweeter than the other flavors I tried when I opened the package for a sniff. Mixing it up didn't really change the scent profile, which is good for people who are sensitive to certain food smells.
This one went down the hatch rather easily, though I noted this one was a little too sweet for my personal liking. I neglected to give this one enough time to settle, but I have had experience with this flavor once before. It does settle, but at a decent rate. You can ignore it for a few minutes with no trouble, but you'll still want to give it a shake or two, as the flax does sink.
Overall Verdict: This one would probably go over well with finicky eaters, because of the sweetness covering up the smell and taste of other things mixed in. If you're a fan of dark chocolate, a teaspoon or two of cocoa powder added to the bottle before mixing would go over well, as the sugar already present helps to offset the notable bitterness of cocoa powder.
I broke into the bag that contained this mix, and gave it a good sniff. Not a snort -- that would have raised suspicion amongst my colleagues. Getting dusted up on powdered food is probably not the best way to build friendships at work. It's okay, though -- this one didn't really give me a remarkable impression of smell before I added water to it. After it was mixed, it was much like the other meals, with that flaxen scent that I'm learning to quickly link to powdered foods. It didn't smell sugary, which is a good thing in my books.
Like the previous mix (100%FOOD Chocolate), this was fairly easy to ingest. I managed to quickly quaff this bottle, which I would attribute to a slightly different mix build to accomodate the additional protein added. It could have used a little something, though.
Overall Verdict: It is a fairly neutral flavored meal, which makes it easy enough to palate, but too many of these with no flavor variation makes one a dull person. Consider mixing this with something of flavor. Two tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter and a teaspoon of cocoa powder, added to a blender with very cold (soy, almond, hemp, or cow's) milk would go over well with the full sized meal, in my opinion. Alternate suggestions would be half a cup of blueberries with two teaspoons of cinnamon and milk, or strawberries with a 25/75 mixture of pomegranate juice and water. Of course, adjust accordingly for caloric changes.