Spare Snacks was founded by Ben Whitehead who worked as a Food Innovation Consultant for Unilever and as a freelance sustainability consultant before making the leap to founding his own brand. We were lucky enough to be able to taste test some of his Spare Snacks and give our verdict.
The story behind Spare Snacks is brilliant and is much needed in an era of unprecedented food waste. Shockingly, over a third of all food produced globally goes to waste which equals over 1.3 billion tons and is worth over $1 trillion. This food waste could feed every starving person in the world four times over which is just not acceptable.
That's why companies like Spare Snacks are so important and are paving the way for a better future. Spare Snacks take 'wonky' fruit and veg that would otherwise not be sold and air dry them to turn them into handy, tasty fruit and vegetable crisps. For example, they take beets that are rejected by retailers for being a little damaged when they get pulled from the ground. They use apples that might have the odd blemish which means supermarkets don't want them even though they are perfectly edible.
Spare Snacks are working hard to tackle food waste and for this alone, we immediately fell in love with this brand before we even tasted their snacks!
Beet Root Crisps
Beets are somewhat of an underrated vegetable, especially in the UK, despite being packed full of protein, fibre, and potassium. Spare Snacks pair this super healthy vegetable with apple cider vinegar to make a snack that will easily challenge your favourite bag of crisps or other savoury snacks.
I loved the texture of these 'crisps' as they were a little chewy which worked well. The subtle tang of the apple cider vinegar offsets the beetroot's natural earthy flavour and they make for a very satisfying savoury snack. The beetroots in Spare Snacks' veg crisps are air dried which means you don't get the thick, oily texture that you sometimes get with classic fried potato crisps and you're not left feeling super dehydrated afterwards which is a big bonus. Not to mention the fact that the Spare Snacks beetroot crisps only have a minute fat content (0.1g total fat) compared to 10g of fat in a bag of Walkers Salt & Vinegar crisps. The beetroot crisps also have half the salt content of a bag of Walkers so they are objectively much healthier.
My usual naughty salt and vinegar crisps have a new rival!
Apple Fruit Crisps
The Apple Fruit Crisps come in two flavours: plain or with cinnamon. I'm a huge fan of the match made in heaven that is apple and cinnamon so I was really excited to try these fruit crisps. If you're like me and need snacks throughout the day to prevent extreme hunger and consequent binges, you'll know how important it is to find delicious, healthy snacks like fruit and veg crisps.
The flavour of the apple crisps is really satisfying and kicks that sweet craving right where it's needed. Again, the texture is chewy in a good way and they taste absolutely delicious. They're not overly sweet so you're not left craving more once you're finished and they make a perfectly satisfying snack, treat, or dessert. A lot of people (myself included) are conditioned to craving something sweet after both lunch and dinner, so these are the perfect compromise.
I have tried a few different brands of fruit and vegetable crisps in the past and I am always a huge fan. I think it's such a great, easy way to get more fruit and vegetables into your diet and as they can act as a replacement for less healthy snacks it really is a great win. The fact that Spare Snacks go the extra mile by using otherwise unsaleable produce and are making steps to reduce food waste is hugely impressive. I love this brand and everything it stands for so it's a resounding 10 out of 10 from me!
Vega is a well-established plant based protein company in the USA, so when I was asked to try some of their products as they start to make waves in the UK, I was thrilled! Vega was co-founded by Brendan Brazier, a vegan former professional Ironman triathlete, so Sundried and Vega share some common ground in our passion for ethical consumption and triathlon. Vega’s products boast organic ingredients which are all gluten-free, non-dairy, and high protein. What’s not to love?
Vanilla Flavour Essentials Nutritional Powder
The vanilla flavour essentials nutritional powder is made from a blend of pea, flaxseed, and hemp. Its wholesome vegetable ingredients provide you with the nutritional building blocks to start your day strong and are high in protein, fibre, and omega-3. Vega says that it’s great as a smoothie, but I decided to try out their recipe for Cashew Vanilla and Coconut Balls, which turned out to be amazing!
They are really easy to make - trust me, I am a terrible cook! They smell phenomenal and they are lovely and light with a sweet taste. They make the perfect post-workout snack, and knowing that they are raw vegan and organic means they are totally guilt-free! If you want to have a go yourself, you can find the recipe on the Vega website.
Chocolate Flavour Clean Protein
I also got to try to chocolate flavour clean protein, which is a protein powder made from pea, hemp, alfalfa, and pumpkin seed. It’s naturally high in protein and low in sugar which makes it the perfect clean vegan protein powder! It tastes great mixed with water over ice but there are also recipes on the Vega website which you can try.
So, the verdict. I must say I am impressed! Anyone who has tried several different vegan protein powders has probably had the same experience as me in having to endure thick, lumpy, powdery protein shakes which taste awful! Well, no longer. Vega’s products are light and mix well, and are perfect in tasty recipes so that you can stay nourished and happy all day long. I was really pleasantly surprised by these products as past experiences have made me dubious about plant-based protein, but the nutritional value of these products is excellent. It’s a 10 from me!
Mindful Chef is a health-focused food box company set up by school friends Giles, Myles, and Rob in 2015. Since then, they've been delivering fresh produce and tasty recipes to thousands of people from small farms in Devon where they grew up. Their ethos is helping people lead a healthier life by reducing the intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates. None of their fresh food boxes contain pasta, bread, or white rice, but instead are packed with fresh vegetables and wholesome ingredients. They cater for all different dietary requirements, including vegan, which is the option I went for when they offered to send me some of their fabulous meals.
Teriyaki tofu, seaweed & brown rice bowl
The concept of Mindful Chef is fantastic. They send out a box full of fresh ingredients, all weighed out perfectly, and a simple recipe which is easy to follow. Now I hate cooking, and I am terrible at it! I'm talking undercooked veg, overcooked rice, and bland everything. But with Mindful Chef, even a rubbish cook like me can whip up a tasty and nutritious dinner with minimal fuss! The other thing that I love about this concept is that I ended up eating foods and flavours that I would never have otherwise. I don't think I'd even know where to find seaweed let alone how to add it to a recipe! So their teriyaki tofu, seaweed and brown rice bowl was a big winner for me. The flavours are fantastic and really clever; they work wonderfully together to create a really delicious dish. Everything you need is right there in front of you so after a long day at work, you can come home knowing that a healthy dinner isn't too far away.
Brazilian black bean stew with brown rice
This recipe also got a big thumbs up from me. The macros for each meal are very handily listed on the recipe card, and can also be found on Mindful Chef's website, so for those counting macros or preparing for a competition, the hard work is already done for you. Again, the flavours in this dish were fantastic, with the sweetness of the creamed coconut marrying together with the bitterness of the beans to create a great balance. Mindful Chef also includes raw cacao powder in this dish which is a good source of magnesium, used by the body for energy production and promoting good circulation. Another ingredient which I would never have thought to include in my dinner so I love it!
Sugar snap, chickpea, and cauli rice biryani
One of the main ingredients included in this recipe was cauli rice, which I had heard of but never tried. Cauliflower rice has up to 75% fewer calories than regular white rice and it stays fresh for up to 12 months with no preservatives so it is definitely a healthier option. This recipe was also delicious and super easy to make! Its nutritional information is also very balanced, providing 447 calories, 53g of carbs, 21g of fat, and 21g of protein which is very good for a vegan meal.
I love the ethos of Mindful Chef and the fact that it is a humble British brand just trying to help the nation become healthier. They have so many different recipes that you would never get bored and it also encourages lazy people like me to get more active in the kitchen! It makes cooking easy and they cater for everyone. Their recipes are delicious and healthy, as well as being varied and exotic. I think I might have to sign up for a subscription myself! It's a resounding 10 from me.
Creative Nature is a young, ethical organisation that was established to promote health, creativity, and respect for the environment, just like Sundried. They source their ingredients from exotic countries like Hawaii and New Zealand to offer the very best in worldly superfoods. I was thrilled when they sent me a selection of their high protein bars to sample.
Apple Pie Protein
The Creative Nature protein bars boast such qualities as being gluten free, dairy free, wheat free, and nut free, meaning that people with food allergies or intolerances can freely enjoy them. They are also certified by the Vegan Society. With 8g of protein in each bar, there is a good balance of macronutrients. The Apple Pie protein bar tastes fantastic! It really tastes like apple pie! The texture of the bar is great, nice and soft without being too chewy like some protein bars.
Dates, Soya protein (10%), chicory fibre, rapeseed oil, rice protein (5%) pea protein (5%) humectant (glycerol) Dried Apple (3%) pumpkin seeds, Gluten Free Oats, Raisins, Sunflower Seeds, Chia Seeds, Ground Cassia, Brown Linseeds, Natura Flavouring.
I was a little disappointed with this flavour as salted caramel is my absolute jam, I cannot get enough of it, and this didn't really give me much of that flavour. It still tastes fantastic, but I didn't get the salted caramel vibe unfortunately.
Dates, Soya protein (10%) chicory fibre, rapeseed oil, rice protein (5%), pea protein (5%), humecant (glycerol) Gluten free oats, pumpkin seeds, brown linseeds, chia seeds, natural flavouring, pink crystal salt.
The cacao orange flavour was my favourite of the three which was a surprise! The orange flavour is so authentic despite there not actually being any orange listed in the ingredients. The cacao gives a lovely balance of deep flavours to offset the sweetness of the dates and orange flavour. The added crunch from superfoods such as pumpkin seeds and chia seeds give this bar a fantastic texture and make it very moreish!
Dates, Soya Protein (9%), Chicory fibre, humectant (glycerol), Rice Protein (4%), Organic Cocoa Butter (3%), Gluten Free Oats, Pumpkin Seeds, Rapeseed Oil, Cacao Beans, Chia Seeds, Natural Flavouring.
The bars themselves are delicious with an excellent texture. The only drawback I'd say is that they're so moreish I could eat them all day! But with that fibre content I don't think my stomach would thank me for it! The flavours are rich and complex and I think they would perhaps suit names that do those qualities more justice. It's an 8 from me!
BodyMe was founded in 2011 by Leigh Prideaux and is an ethically-conscious UK brand just liked Sundried. Naturally, it seemed like a great collaboration and I was really excited when they sent me some of their wonderful products to try.
Chia Vanilla Protein Bar
With 16g of protein in each bar, I'm off to a great start before I’ve even taken it out of the attractive and well-designed packet. The bars are dairy-free, GMO-free, gluten-free, and raw vegan. Phew! You’d think all that would mean it tastes like cardboard, but it absolutely doesn’t! The texture is not too dense or chewy and they're easily digestible. The Chia Vanilla bar is packed with chia seeds which are a popular superfood; they are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and are rich in antioxidants, calcium, fibre, and iron. The chia seeds add a subtle crunch and the texture is not too thick or chewy - my mouth didn’t ache after eating it like with some protein bars! All the ingredients are organic with no nasty surprises and nothing made in a lab. It is cold-pressed which means none of the flavour or nutrients are lost in the production process.
Cacao Orange Protein Bar
The cacao orange bar has an ideal taste of chocolate orange and the little chunks crackled and popped which adds a fantastic texture. Like the chia seed bar, it is not too thick or chewy and has a delicious taste. It didn't leave an aftertaste in my mouth like some protein products so that was a bonus too. It's fairly moreish, I could've eaten more!
Cacao Mint Protein bar
The cacao mint bar was my favourite, it's delicious! I was dubious at first as I was worried the cacao would be too much, but it was perfect. The mint flavour filled my mouth as soon as I took the first bite, without being overpowering. The texture is perfect, not too chewy and with lovely crunchy bits to keep it interesting. I could easily eat this bar every day!
Plant Protein in a choice of cinnamon, cacao, or naked flavours
The plant-based protein is made from a blend of pea, brown rice, and hemp seeds which makes it an interesting mix! I'm often wary of vegan protein powders as they can be very thick and grainy, but these are fantastic! I think they are possibly better blended with certain liquids - soy milk rather than just water - but I had the cacao flavour powder in my daily spinach protein smoothie and it was great!
BodyMe has ethics that Sundried really supports and they are a small British brand just like us. Their products are clean and vegan without compromising taste so it's a win-win! It's a 10 from me.