Christmas has come and gone and we are all probably a lot fatter because of it. The last thing you are likely to want is Jim and I tempting you with lots more calorific sugary chocolate treats. So this week I’m going to look at something much more wholesome and healthy.
Eat Natural is a small breakfast-oriented business founded by Praveen Vijh in his Epping flat eighteen years ago. Just like his food, his values are simple: eat healthy by eating natural. Praveen sources only the highest quality ingredients from around the world and makes everything in small batches to ensure nothing is over-mixed or over-heated. The aim is for the food to go through as little processing as possible.
I picked up two 45g cereal bars from Holland & Barrett during their Penny Sale. At 95p each, they are rather more expensive than buying a single bar of chocolate, but they are also much healthier, and far more filling. Being placed at the front counter with a big sale sign underneath made the bars stand out, but had they been on an ordinary shelf without a neon sign, I doubt I would have noticed them. The packaging is attractive, and I like that you can see what is inside, but it doesn’t exactly grab your attention.
Kcal 204 Fat 9.8g Fat (sats) 3.5g Carbs 22.8g (per bar)
1. Peanut & Popcorn
According to Eat Natural, peanuts are the most protein packed nuts you can lay your hands on, so given that they make up 29% of the entire cereal bar, it is no surprise that it leaves you filling full. The bar also give off a nutty scent, although I would not have automatically recognised it as peanuts.
Given that peanuts have such a distinct flavour, I was expecting a powerful punch of flavours, but ended up being massively disappointed. The peanuts did not come through that much. Apart from a hint of bitterness from the dark chocolate chunks, all I got was a bland savoury taste. I put this down to the popcorn. Most of us consider popcorn an indulgent and unhealthy snack, but what makes popcorn so delicious is the salt, butter, and (if you’re a bit odd) sugar, doused on top of it. Unseasoned popcorn tastes and has the texture of cardboard.
Kcal 215 Fat 11.1g Fat (sats) 6.4g Carbs 18.4g (per bar)
2. Dark Chocolate
Peanut & Popcorn is stated to be Eat Natural’s most indulgent bar, so it was with resigned reluctance that I moved onto their Dark Chocolate bar. The puffed rice’s pale surface gave it an anaemic appearance, and the scarcity of sultanas suggested it would be even blander. The only consolation was a thin layer of dark chocolate spread across the bottom, which gave off a mild earthy aroma.
It just goes to show, you shouldn’t judge by appearance. Hidden underneath are a generous helping of cranberries and sultanas, and when you bite into one, an extra juicy zing compliments the bitterness of the chocolate perfectly. The chocolate may be thin, but it is dispersed so that it runs through the entire bar and you get an optimum dose with every bite.
Macadamia nuts give the bar a creamy, almost smooth, texture, but it is also very crumbly and falls apart as you eat. It is not one to be had on the go or at your desk (unless you want crumbs falling into your keyboard).
I really admire the ethos behind Eat Natural, as we all need to find healthier forms of snacking. On the basis of the two cereal bars I’ve tried, success is a bit hit and miss, but it would not put me off trying others in the range; the dark chocolate bar is well worth trying out for yourself.