There is no doubt that I am lucky to be sent some products to test for review purposes – these aren’t only bariatric-focused ones (indeed most PR’s don’t know what bariatric-friendly means, so I regularly do a crash-course few paragraphs for them) but general food too, since I am a food writer that specialises in both. So I feel I have a foothold in both weight-loss surgery and general food or recipe camps – I straddle both! This I think is good because even though I, and maybe you, have had weight-loss surgery, we don’t always want to be defined by it. Mainstream food choices are there for us whether they are good or not and I think it is part of my job to consider what is around and check out if they’re ok or something to steer away from.
I get a fair few things to test for review purposes. I would say that 75% are rejected outright – not healthy, don’t live up to the hype, too expensive, not widely available (which is a shame because some are good but if you can’t get hold of them then I can’t recommend – catch 22), or just don’t hit the spot for me. So there’s 25% left – which I either take to our test kitchen or elsewhere and ask others to consider. These may be tools for diabetics; and since I’m not, then I need the help of those who are; may be gluten-free or lactose-free for those who suffer – I don’t require these, so need the help from those who are intolerant or sensitive; and other non-food items that may need a keener eye when it comes to beauty and exercise products. The foodie items come mainly under my radar because that’s what matters most to me. And of these final 25% – I would say only about 10% come under my scrutiny.
I think you know where I am going with this! If it passes my assessment and gets the thumbs up then I consider it pretty good and useful enough to recommend. For the bariatric community this percentage level is lower, our requirements are tougher to meet – so if it gets my bariatric-friendly recommendation then you can gather I am happy with it. For that reason I don’t tend to review and say ‘yes’ to many manufactured foods. I’m a cook and make-from-scratch one as much as I can be, but also recognise time constraints and also admit that there are some foods around that are better made by the ‘experts’.
So what are the ‘expert’ foods? Well I hope to produce the definitive list shortly and to post it to save you the hassle of buying countless foods that may disappoint, but I’m thinking about items like Total/Fage fat-free Greek yogurt – my no compromise refrigerator staple. If you have any that should be included then please do let me know (comments gratefully received below).
When the samples for review arrive they are put through their paces. Most don’t make the cut but some do and here’s one I really like! As those who have bought my Return to Slender Cookery Book know I do a pretty good and mean Super Crunchy Muesli ( a bit like a granola). I don’t think it can be bettered but it does mean getting into the kitchen and rattling a few pots and pans. If you simply can’t be bothered or are time poor; are worried about the sugar content of manufactured ones; and want one that is top-notch, then maybe this will be just the one for you. We’ve tried it plain and simple, with fruit and yogurt and cooked with it too to make a kind of cake and breakfast bar (which may make our newsletter so look out for the recipes in future issues).
It’s called Scrumshus and made with lots of crunchy clusters of jumbo oats, coconut, almonds, cashew nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, raisins and hazelnuts. Unlike most granolas, which are sweetened with sugar or fruit juice concentrate, it is made with with natural honey and purest maple syrup. But not much – I am sugar sensitive and haven’t suffered any problems with ‘dumping’ (although I recognise we are all different and have degrees of tolerability). What I also like is that it was developed at home by a London mum who developed it for her family and friends because she found most shop-bought granolas ‘dusty’. Scrumshus has become a great success and is now a breakfast favourite at The Ritz, Claridges and Gleneagles, Scotland. So a 5 star dish that you can now enjoy at home. It costs £4.99 a jar and available from many independent fine food retailers.
Being thrifty I also like its packaging – a 500g/1 lb non-glass PET jar which not only keeps the granola beautifully fresh, but makes a great handy storage jar once you’ve enjoyed the contents. You don’t need much to fill you up – a 25g/1 oz or 2 tablespoon portion is often sufficient, especially if served with yogurt and some fresh fruit.
I have been on the road quite early a few times this last week and this granola also makes a great little breakfast for on the move. It only takes seconds to put together in an old jam/jelly jar and keeps perfectly sealed in your bag/purse for a meal on the go. Give it a try!
YOGURT, GRANOLA AND BERRY BREAKFAST POTS
75g/1/2 cup unsweetened fruit compote or stewed fruit
25g/1/3 cup granola (I used Scrumshus brand)
1/4 large pot or 125 g/4 oz fat-free Greek yogurt (I used Yacult brand)
a few fresh berries or sliced fruit
1. Take a jam jar/jar with clip or screw-topped lid or breakfast bowl and spoon in half of the fruit compote or stewed fruit.
2. Scatter over half of the granola and spoon on half of the yogurt.
3. Top with a few berries then repeat with the layer of fruit compote, granola and yogurt and rop with any remaining berries or sliced fruit.
4. Serve the breakfast bowl fresh as soon as possible or screw or clip the lid onto the pot to seal and place in your bag for breakfast on the go!
WLS PORTION: 1/2-1
V suitable for Vegetarians
CALORIES PER PORTION: 214
Image courtesy of Yacult Yogurt