Macro Natural Nut Mix

Product Review: Macro Natural Nut Mix

Woolies has recently launched a snack pack called Macro Natural Nut Mix. The bag contains 5 single-serve packs 5 and costs $3.99, making a convenient and reasonably-priced snack. Sadly, convenience also means extra packaging.

Each pack contains 30g of nuts (almonds, blanched peanuts, walnuts and cashews), which is the recommended serving size in the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Note that the nuts are either raw or blanched and unsalted, making them healthier than the roasted and/or flavoured varieties.

Nuts contain healthy fats (mainly monounsaturated and some polyunsaturated fatty acids), as well as some protein and fibre. They also contain appreciable amounts of micronutrients such as vitamin E, folate, magnesium, calcium, and selenium. When tolerated, nuts should be consumed regularly in sensible amounts as part of a healthy diet. I prefer to freeze nuts for texture and to help protect the fats from going rancid.

Each serve provides:
Energy: 777kJ
Protein: 6.7g
Fat 16.5g
Saturated 1.7g
Carbohydrate 2.0g
– Sugars 1.6g
Fibre 2.5g

For more information about the health benefits of nuts, visit Nuts For Life.

Huon Salmon to Go Deli Bites

Product Review: Huon Salmon to Go Deli Bites

Huon, the well-known Tasmanian salmon producer, has launched a new line of ready-to-eat products called Salmon to Go.

Huon Salmon Bites

I bought a bag of Deli Bites, hot smoked natural flavour, which only contains salmon, salt and natural wood smoke. Other hot smoked options are blackened spice, lemon pepper and sweet chilli, and there is also a cold smoked one. The product’s selling point is convenience, as it can be easily added to pastas, salads or pizza, as suggested on the package. The bag contains 250g of salmon, which at $6 is significantly cheaper than other smoked salmon products. In my opinion, this is a clever way of using those bits and pieces that would perhaps otherwise end as food waste.

Huon Salmon Bites

This product is a great source of protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids:
Protein: 26.3g
Fat 9.4g
– saturated 2.1g
– polyunsaturated 2.5g
   omega-3 1.4g
    EPA 441.8mg
    DHA 639.2mg
   omega-6 1.1g
– monounsaturated 4.3g
– trans 0.1g

Huon Salmon to Go Deli Bites are available in the refrigerated section of major supermarkets.

To learn more about this product visit Huon’s website.

Hart and Soul cup soups

Product review: Hart and Soul cup soups

I wrote a product review for the nutrition site Foodwatch, ran by dietitian extraordinaire Catherine Saxelby. As all my reviews, this is a product I discovered while looking for a convenient, yet not overly processed source of nourishment. At the time, I was doing placement in Orange and I wasn’t able to cook every day. These soups turned out to be a perfect addition to my weekday lunches, particularly because it was freezing cold.

To read the full review, click here.

San Remo pulse pasta

Product review: San Remo pulse pasta

I came across San Remo pulse pasta at the Gluten Free Expo a few weeks ago. Even though I very rarely eat pasta (in fact I never buy or cook it because I prefer using vegetables as the vehicle for sauces), these caught my eye because they are not just an empty source of refined carbohydrate, but actually pack some nutrition. Because they are only or mostly made from pulses, they are higher in protein, lower in carbs and higher in fibre than regular pasta.

They come in three shapes: spaghetti, penne and fusilli. The spaghetti and penne are made out of equal parts of pea, chickpea, borlotti bean and lentil flour. The recommended serve is 125g (half a pack), which I think was a bit too much. Our serves were about 80-85g. The macros per serve for these are:
Protein: 28.8g
Fat 3.8g 3.0g
– saturated 0.5g
Carbohydrates 57.5g
– sugars 3.8g

The fusilli is made of chickpea flour (75%) and potato starch. The recommended serve is also 125 g and these are the macros per serve:
Protein: 22.5g
Fat 4.4g
– saturated 0.6g
Carbohydrates 71.3g
– sugars 2.8g

I tried the pasta with three recipes that remind me of my childhood: tallarín saltado de pollo criollo, tallarines blancos con atún and tallarines verdes.

Tallarín saltado de pollo criollo

Tallarines blancos con atún

Tallarines verdes

I was very pleased with the flavour and texture of the three shapes. They reminded me of whole wheat pasta in both fronts but felt a lot better digestion-wise. I found the flavour did not overpower the main ingredients in either of the dishes.

San Remo pulse pasta is available in major supermarkets. I recommend you give it a go whether or not you’re sensitive to gluten, the nutritional value is worth it.

Visit the following link for more information about San Remo gluten free pasta, including the pulse varieties.

Product review: Maggie recipe bases

Before you declare I have sold my soul to Big Food, let me throw in a disclaimer: I have received multiple free samples of these recipe bases in a couple of events and I’m an advocate of making good use of free food.

Mince cottage pie

Not all Maggie’s recipe bases are gluten free, but of course I tried the ones that are. All of them make 4 servings and need a few basic ingredients added in.

Beef Stroganoff

Once again, gluten free does not automatically makes a food product healthy. Some of the bases have ingredients I normally avoid such as “vegetable fat (vegetable fat, rosemary extract, sunflower lecithin)”, “flavours” and sugar. All of them have citric acid as preservative.

Chicken Chasseur

The bases are fairly easy to use and, in some cases, include instructions for a few different cooking methods (e.g. stovetop, oven, slow cooker). I’ve tried the Chicken Chasseur, Mince Cottage Pie, Beef Stroganoff, Satay Chicken and Chilli Con Carne. While I still prefer making my food from scratch, these can be handy when time is a constraint.

Satay chicken

You can find the ingredients lists and nutritional information for the full range at their website.

Well & Good cake mix

Product review: Well & Good all purpose cake mix

My goodie bag from the Gluten Free Expo contained a box of Well & Good reduced sugar all purpose cake mix. Even though I’m not a massive fan of cake I was excited to try it out mainly because it was my first time baking something out of a box. Luckily, it was my husband’s birthday so I had an excuse and many friends to share the cake with.

The cake mix is free of the 8 main food allergens and, as advertised, has some of the sugar replaced by stevia. The ingredients are: gluten free flour mix (rice flour, corn starch, maltodextrin, tapioca starch), brown sugar, non aluminium raising agents (450, 500), thickeners (1412, 415, 461), vegetable emulsifiers (471, 475), natural vanilla flavour, iodised salt, colour (caramelised sugar), spice (cinnamon), stevia. Two things to note: 1) if you have food chemical sensitivities you might want to make your cake from scratch, and 2) gluten free doesn’t mean healthy. Cake is cake.

The instructions are very easy: simply mix in a bowl with 3 eggs, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup oil using a wooden spoon, and bake.

Well & Co gluten free cake mix

There are a few suggestions of things you can add (banana, carrot, apple & cinnamon), but I added Alvaro’s favourite treat instead: frozen blueberries. The cake baked perfectly (in my oven it took less time than the minimum indicated on the box, so keep an eye). I decorated it with coconut cream & lemon icing and coconut flakes.

The macros per serve for the cake prepared plain and assuming 10 servings per package are:
Protein: 3.4g
Fat, total: 14.2g
– saturated: 2.0g
Carbohydrate: 34.6g
– sugars: 11.7g

The verdict? Taste-wise, the cake received 2 thumbs up from everyone. I thought it wasn’t extremely sweet, which is good, but I prefer my cakes moister and denser. Nutrition-wise, again: cake is cake.

Well & Good

Product review: Helga’s gluten free gourmet rolls

Even though I’m not a fan of gluten-free versions of processed foods (no, the fact that something is gluten-free doesn’t make it automatically healthy), I was very curious when I found out that Helga’s had launched their gourmet gluten-free buns in partnership with Chur Burger and Bar Luca.

I tried a couple of Woolworths stores but they were sold out. Then I tried QE supermarkets and found them there at a much higher price ($8.22 vs $6.99 in Woolies) but I was really keen on trying them.

There are 5 rolls per pack, which seems like an odd (no pun intended) number. The health claims at the front of the package read “Source of Protein, Source of Fibre, Wheat Free, No Artificial Colours & Flavours”. Source of protein, yes, a lot of foods (even fruits and vegetables!) have some protein in them. They don’t say “good source of protein” so I guess they’re not lying (the amount per roll is 5g, which is not a lot). Source of fibre, yes, 3g per serve, again not super high but greater than zero. Wheat free, check. No artificial colours & flavours, check but we’ll come back to this one later. Each roll has 27.7g of carbohydrate, of which 2.5g (roughly 1/2 teaspoon) are sugars.

Making gluten-free bread is tough. Gluten is the thing that makes dough elastic, so there are all sorts of ingredients that need to be added to gluten-free flours to attain the desired end product. The ingredients in the 5 seeds variety are: water, modified tapioca starch (1442), flour (rice, soy), seed mix (9%) (linseeds, sunflower seeds, toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds), maize starch, canola oil, sugar, quinoa, egg white powder, yeast, iodised salt, psyllium, cultured dextrose, white vinegar, stabilisers (412, 464).

Yes, high fibre, no artificial colours & flavours, but still a very long list of ingredients, of which some are “less natural” than others. If I could eat gluten with no problems I would prefer a sourdough roll made out of flour, water, salt and wild yeast. But I can’t and that is why I choose to eat gluten-free bread only once in a while and eat other less processed naturally gluten-free foods instead (meat and vegetables, for example).

We tried them with shredded chicken, celery & homemade mayo (the classic Peruvian “pan con pollo”), chorizo & American mustard (another popular choice in Perú) and cheeseburger (homemade grass-fed beef patty, tasty cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and American mustard). And because it was beautiful and sunny we had a rocket, watermelon & feta salad with balsamic reduction, extra virgin olive oil & pepper.

The buns are a bit crumbly (we didn’t toast them – that might help) but had a good taste unlike other cakey/crumpety ones. They also come in the white variety, which surprisingly has the same amount of fibre per roll.

Sandwiches with Helga's gluten free gourmet rolls

Helga’s Continental Bakehouse
Website

Lupin flakes

Product review: Lupin Flakes

Lupin is a legume with an impressive nutritional profile (40% protein, 37% fibre, 4% effective carbs). It got in my radar last year when I was doing placement at the RPA Allergy Clinic, as it is often recommended for people with gluten allergy/intolerance. Then I forgot about lupin until the 2017 DAA Conference, where The Lupin Co was an exhibitor. They make lupin flakes using a proprietary process that reduces the phytate content of the legume while maintaining its nutritional value. Lupin flakes can be conveniently used as a substitute for cous cous, rolled oats, breadcrumbs, etc. They can also be used to bump up the protein and fibre content of virtually any meal – sweet or savoury.

Package back

I followed a few recipes from the website to make lupin, cinnamon and coconut granola, Moroccan ras el hanout crumbed chicken, lupin crusted roast cauliflower salad, lupin and rice, chocolate protein cookies and warm lupin and Mediterranean roast vegetable salad (not pictured). I was impressed by the versatility of the flakes, they didn’t impart a particularly strong flavour in any recipe and added a nice crunch to the granola and the crumbed chicken. I have also used it as a substitute for rice, given it has the shape and consistency of cauliflower ‘rice’.

Food with lupin flakes

Lupin flakes are currently available at selected health food shops and supermarkets but I think it will become more mainstream in the next few years.

The last thing to note is lupin is an allergen (in fact, last month FSANZ included it as one of the 10 allergens that need to be declared in food labels) so it might not be suitable for everyone.

The Lupin Co
Website
On Facebook
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Product review: Green St Kitchen kimchi hot sauce

The makers of my favourite kimchis and krauts (see previous review) have a newish product in their line of fermented vegetable products: a kimchi hot sauce. It comes in a 280ml cough-syrup-style bottle. Be careful when opening it for the first time, as fermentation makes it fizzy. I’m glad I opened it over the sink.

Kimchi hot sauce

The sauce contains red peppers, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, red pepper powder, coconut sugar, sea salt and Korean miso… but don’t worry, it’s not as hot as it sounds! In fact, I found it pretty mild for my Peruvian palate. I loved the taste and would suggest you try it with different cuisines, not just Korean/Asian.

Kimchi hot sauce

Green St Kitchen
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Product review: Peak Chocolate Bar by True Protein

Yes, this is a chocolate bar sold as a fitness supplement. This is the sort of thing that gets my coach fired up about the money-driven fitness supplement industry, but I could not resist and had to try it as soon as it got released. Given the ingredient list (80% dark choc, creatine monohydrate, BCAAs, organic caffeine, and Himalayan rock salt), I expected it to be at the very least a decent chocolate bar, even if it didn’t accelerate muscle growth and increase energy as promised.

Peak chocolate bar

Nutrition wise, each 25g serve (1/2 bar) provides 2.5g protein, 4.7g CHO (of which 3.6g are sugar), 70mg caffeine, 1.5g creatine monohydrate and 1.0g BCAAs. The bars sell for $5.90.

Peak chocolate bar NIP

So I gave it a shot pre-workout on 4 consecutive sessions. I loved the flavour and texture, which reminded me of other raw chocolate bars such as Loving Earth, but lacked the fruitiness of my favourite (Alter Eco 85%).

Sadly, I did not seem to get any of the advertised fitness benefits. Maybe I didn’t have the right dose, maybe I’m too old for these things to make a difference, or maybe I suck so much the difference was not significant. Either way, the chocolate was enjoyable as a snack.

Click this link to buy Peak chocolate bar. If you’re not sold on the idea of the choc bar, at least give their protein powders a shot; we use them regularly and can totally recommend them.