Soylent 2.0: A Better Meal Replacement?

A Little Background

I enjoy eating sometimes but oftentimes it is more of a chore. Unfortunately, eating is a necessity if I want to be healthy, energetic, productive.

Soylent 2.0 being poured into a glass.
Photo of Soylent 2.0 from official Soylent site.

I’ve written about Soylent, a meal replacement drink, in the past here and here. I’ve tried other meal replacement drinks like RAW Meal and Shakeology (also here and there, and up there and down here).

I’ve written about and regularly consume Ensure, I don’t care that I’m not the target audience.

When Soylent started out (and when I first began consuming it) it was a powder which one mixed with water and then added some bottled oils to. It only took two or three minutes to make a days worth and I thought it tasted decent – much less grainy than either RAW Meal or Shakeology – but much more grainy than Ensure.

I Try 2.0

Recently Soylent announced and then began shipping Soylent 2.0 – which comes bottled similar to Ensure. Now there is no prep time, just take a bottle out of the fridge. I purchased my first twelve pack and have consumed them all. I’ve now upped my order to 24 monthly, which will cover almost one meal a day. I expect, if I continue to like it, I will up my order to perhaps 48 bottles/mo., which would make almost two a day.

While I didn’t have a problem with the old Soylent’s taste, the new Soylent is significantly better. It tastes and has the texture of almond milk.

At first I thought I would need to mix something with it to drink it with great consistency and I tried some chocolate syrup as well as some V8 juice – the latter worked rather well. But as I have continued to drink it I find my taste buds developing more and more of a liking for it and I don’t see myself needing to mix anything else into it.

Why Else I Like Soylent

Besides Soylent providing me an alternative to meals there are a number of other techie reasons I like them.

First, their recipe is open source and this has resulted in a cottage industry producing similar products. I’m a huge fan of open source.

Second, they provide release notes with each version as well as providing detailed blog posts about why they do what they do and when problems arise. I am especially fond of the latter.

Third, they are constantly iterating on Soylent. 2.0 is great, but I’m sure 2.1 will be better!

But Dave…

“But Dave, this can’t be as good for you as eating real, organic food for meals.”

You are absolutely correct – thing is, I don’t eat real, organic food for meals. Soylent is a healthier alternative to a lot of the standard American diet / standard Dave diet. So, while not perfection, it is a step in the right direction…

And I won’t stop eating real food altogether. In fact, I may eat healthier the rest of the time b/c I am drinking Soylent. I always feel so time constricted – so much more I want to accomplish in a day than I can – if I feel a little less time constricted I may be more willing to invest in a meal (no promises, but hey, it’s possible!).

Soylent: A Viable Meal Alternative?

The Journey to Soylent

On June 27th, 2013 I began anticipating Soylent, talking about Soylent, impatiently waiting for Soylent to become available. I signed up for a week’s supply of Soylent on June 10th and it arrived on July 22nd.

A picture of my box of soylent...and of course, my feet, b/c I'm talented with cameras like that.
A picture of my box of soylent…and of course, my feet, b/c I’m talented with cameras like that.

Inside was a long sheet with instructions…I’m not a fan of the big sheet…What am I supposed to do with this? Unless I hang it on my way there is no easy way to store it.

The awkwardly long Soylent instructions.
The awkwardly long Soylent instructions.

You can click on the above image to see how long the instructions really where, but it would have consumed too much space on the page for me to embed the image here.

Next we had the bags of Soylent and the bottles of oil. You can see a picture below.

What came in the first Soylent box I received - instructions, oils, and soylent.
What came in the first Soylent box I received – instructions, oils, and soylent.

Theoretically, I should have received a package before this one with my welcome pack – which was to include a stainless steel measuring cup and an airtight pitcher as pictured below:

Stainless steel measuring cup from Soylent.
Stainless steel measuring cup from Soylent.

 

The Soylent pitcher - yes, it is BPA free.
The Soylent pitcher – yes, it is BPA free. Ohh, and mine doesn’t look like this, the main body is clear, the handle and lid are green, and it is entirely unbranded by Soylent…I think there is a name of some other company on top…

But I hadn’t and I didn’t for quite some time. I attempted using some of my own implements to make Soylent but had mixed successes. If this was what Soylent tasted like, I wasn’t going to stick with it. After a few tries I decided I would just wait until my welcome package came.

Ohh, and yes, I sent an email reporting the missing welcome package on the 23rd and of course received the usual automated reply the same day. It would be August 9th before I would receive a reply from Soylent and then to be informed that “I have forwarded your concern to our shipping department…” Then silence. Finally, on August 18th I received an email informing me that my starter kit was on its way.

Okay, that is a pretty ridiculous wait…the organizational side of Soylent has been extremely underwhelming…I’m not sure all of what happened behind the scenes, but, honestly, I don’t care that much if Soylent is good and works and if they learn from their mistakes – which, it seems (I hope), they are doing.

On a side note, the disorganization worked out to my advantage as I received a second shipment of Soylent by accident and when I asked what I should do with it they told me to keep it. I was pretty happy about that (though I feel bad for folks who ordered far before me and way more and still have not received their Soylent).

But How About It, Is It Good?

Now that you have heard about the nightmare of procuring my Soylent, lets talk about Soylent itself. It is a very fine mix and comes in bags that each contain three meals. I found trying to make Soylent in smaller portions to be a hassle – not only because of measurements and so on but because the powder is so fine that it puffs up into the air and lands everywhere while scooping.[1]

In any case, I moved to making a whole packet at a time and it was so much easier. Okay, I know for those of you who cook, you are rolling your eyes – and yes, in the distant past I did sometimes cook – but the whole point of Soylent is to save time and improve nutrition.

Making Soylent was now simple – pour in the powder, add a bottle of oil, and then fill the rest of the pitcher with water. Screw on the air-tight cap[2] and shake for around sixty seconds. Place in the refrigerator, remove when ready to consume, shake for five to ten seconds, then pour yourself a glass and enjoy.

Soylent tastes a bit like a milk shake. It has a pleasant flavor, though one I can’t place. Compared to any other powdered drink (Shakeology, RAW Meal), the “graininess” is almost non-existent.

It tastes good, the texture is good, and its easy to make – sweet! Another surprising and positive note is that it uses water not milk or a milk substitute and yet tastes better than Shakeology with (in my case) almond milk! Seriously, if you didn’t see the batch mixed, you’d swear it had to have a dairy base.

So, I like my Soylent and I intend on continuing to consume it. Right now I average two meals a day of Soylent and one meal elsewise. I allow myself to eat whatever I desire for that third meal – but my cravings for unhealthy foods seem to have lessened somewhat (not completely).

Should you get Soylent? Sure. Just be prepared to wait a bit. I think organizationally they are getting there, but with the delays initially as well as the huge demand, and then the ongoing demand for resupplies, it is going to be a while before Soylent is working smoothly.

A Few Importantish Notes

It Goes Bad

One of the great things about Soylent is that it lasts forever (hyperbole) in powder form. Something I didn’t realize until I received my Soylent is that once it has been mixed with water it needs to be consumed within two days. Apparently due to the nutrient richness of the drink, even while being refrigerated bacteria multiply quickly. I would like to know more about the health implications of this.

I oftentimes eat food far past its expiration date – especially dairy alternatives (almond milk, soy milk) and don’t have any problem…so I’d probably ignore this warning except after posting on the forums I learned that the bacteria make the taste go bad quickly – so its not just filled with bacteria, it tastes nasty too.

Still, I’ve been consuming Soylent over a two to may three day period and haven’t experienced issues thus far…and making it in this size batch saves me from measuring, etc.

Don’t Forget The Oils!

Each time you use a bag of Soylent you are supposed to add the oils as well – which provide some important aspects of Soylent’s nutrition. Being ADD, I have on occasion forgotten to put the bottles into the Soylent. This doesn’t bother me, but it is a dilemma – what am I supposed to do with these bottles of oil?

Flatulence

There was a lot of discussion of increased flatulence when using Soylent which, it is hypothesized, is caused by the bacteria in our stomachs not knowing how to handle nutritional food and the replacement of some of these bacteria with better bacteria that do consume this food.

I had no intention of mentioning flatulence, b/c I really don’t like talking about it. I was never a fart guy joker…but I must mention it, b/c it radically increases flatulence and it smells horrific.

This goes away after a few days – but my recommendation – start Soylent when you aren’t spending a lot of time with people…and please, give your spouse a break and sleep on the couch…or at least let them sleep on the couch.

What Now?

My plan at this juncture is to continue Soylent 2x daily long-term. We’ll see if I grow sick of the taste…which is very possible.

I haven’t noticed any huge changes in my health, but that may come with time. I also am hoping to get my blood drawn and analyzed every quarter by WellnessFX so I can monitor my health, especially vitamin levels, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Wrapping It Up

Soylent is great – I’m exceptionally pleased with the product itself. The company has some work to do – and seems to be doing it. I haven’t noticed any amazing positive health effects, but I’m hoping over time it works positively. I’ll provide future updates as I’ve been on it longer and can analyze how I respond to the taste with continued consumption and whether I see any health changes positive or negative.

  1. [1]The reason I wanted to do smaller servings was b/c Soylent goes bad after it is made and I wasn’t sure I could consume an entire package of Soylent quickly enough.
  2. [2]I discovered it isn’t really, really, really air-tight. I didn’t have room to put the pitcher standing up in my refrigerator (it is a mini) so I put it on its side – this worked a few times, but eventually it began to leak.

Trying to Make Sense of Cat Food.

Goodness gracious, there are like a billion different cat foods out there – it is so overwhelming! Even just by a single company there seems to be endless variations! I had recently been fairly happy with the Goodlife Recipe with Chicken Food for Indoor Cats (14 lbs) but then it shot up to the outrageous price of $50+. Maybe this is only a temporary issue with Amazon’s supply – but for now, with a doubling in price, there is no way I’m buying it.

So, here I am, yet again looking for cat food. I have four cats – one that has an eating disorder and will continue eating till she vomits, continuing eat, vomit, and repeat forever. Two of the other cats have sensitive stomachs and a lot of cat food doesn’t seem to agree with them.

I’ve spent a little while on Amazon and here is what I’ve narrowed my options down to…I’ll probably end up trying a few before I find one that works well with my sensitive cats (the only way to deal with the eating disordered one is portion control) and this will give me a list to come back to and hopefully help others who are trying to decide on a cat food narrow down their selections from the hundreds of options available.

I’ve selected the foods based on brand name, customer reviews, price, weight, ingredients, and so on.

Budget Options

Organic Options

I’m going to try Hill’s Ideal Balance Natural Chick and Brown Rice Recipe first. The price is reasonable, and becomes more reasonable with Subscribe & Save and I like the fact that in addition to being all-natural it doesn’t contain any corn, wheat, or soy. We’ll see how it goes…

Why I LOVE My FitBit.

Introduction

For Christmas my brother (Paul) and sister-in-law (Kiki) bought me a Fitbit One. I’ve been eyeing these quantified self devices long before they came into the public awareness – but have held off and held off…now I finally have one and I LOVE it.

I really wasn’t sure how great it was going to be. There are still a few features I’m waiting for a QS device to offer – like monitoring my blood pressure, heart rate, and automatic caloric intake analysis – and while I would have probably waited until these features became available – I’m really glad that Paul and Kiki didn’t – b/c I love the FitBit and would recommend others who are holding out for the “next generation” to make the leap – what it can do currently is quite helpful.

This is a screenshot I took of my FitBit dashboard on 1/23/14 at 10:30 am. I haven't yet exercised for the day - nor have I entered my breakfast - but it gives you an idea...
This is a screenshot I took of my FitBit dashboard on 1/23/14 at 10:30 am. I haven’t yet exercised for the day – nor have I entered my breakfast – but it gives you an idea…

Let me tell you why I love my FitBit

Comfort

I have been using my smartphone (currently a Samsung Galaxy S3) as my QS device for a couple years now. I thought, “hey, I have it in my pocket all the time, it isn’t that big, why buy a separate device?” Boy, was I ever wrong! I find myself taking my smartphone out of my pocket all the time now – knowing that I’m still collecting QS data via the FitBit. Now carrying the smartphone around the house or office feels like an absolute drag – and I don’t even notice the FitBit is clipped to the inside of my pants pocket!

Food Log

I’ve used Noom and other applications for food logging – but I’ve never been very good at it. I always ended up skipping meals – but the FitBit offers me enough other data that I want to login every day (and, hear this Noom – it also has a web-based interface – which I strongly prefer over a mobile first interface) – e.g. it tracks my sleep and my caloric burn.

FitBit’s food logging is no harder or easier than other options I’ve used – I figure there isn’t much room for innovation or improvement on this front until automatic food logging comes into play (which could be quite a while, though some basic caloric intake analysis is hopefully just down the road).

Dynamic Caloric Goals

Each day FitBit not only tracks how many calories I am expending but also calculates (based on my input to the food log) how many calories I am consuming – and tells me on a constantly revised basis how many more calories I should consume for the day. This is great in helping me determine whether I really want to have that bowl of ice cream or that bag of popcorn, etc. I also enjoy driving my caloric intake numbers down and my caloric expenditure numbers up (no, not crazily).

Sleep

The FitBit is no Zeo, that is for sure. But with Zeo out of business and my sensor on the wonk, the FitBit has become my only sleep tracking mechanism. It does a good job of keeping track when I am asleep, how long I stay asleep, how long it takes me to fall asleep, how many times I am awakened and so on. Unfortunately, it does make me tell it when I am trying to go to sleep and when I awake – otherwise it won’t begin tracking / won’t end tracking. This is annoying, I wish it could figure this out on its own.

That said, I’ve been able to remember most days to both start and stop the sleep tracking functionality – which is saying something for its ease of use when you consider my ADD nature.

Other Tracking

I mainly use Food, Activities (exercise), and Sleep but Fitbit can also track weight (which I use, but pretty much only actual weight, not BMI, etc.), Journal (for general reporting on one’s day – I do this separately), heart, blood pressure, and glucose. You can also add custom trackers (I haven’t).

I’m hoping that soon we’ll see more of these items being gathered automatically. I saw that FitBit has partnered with Aria to create a weight scale – I didn’t notice whether it integrates with FitBit and performs automatic weight, BMI, etc. recording – but I’d think it would. Cost is $130 which is too much for me – especially when similar devices sell for $35 on Amazon (FitBit integration would be worth a $15 price premium to me, not but nearly $100).

Weight Loss

The real question is, “Are you losing any weight using the FitBit?” Okay, maybe that isn’t your question, but that is mine. I was 135 lb. as a teenager, 150 lb. my first year in college, and ballooned to 195 lb. a few years ago. Since then I’ve battled back from 195 lb. to 185 lb – but that has been a real battle.

When I began using the FitBit on December 31st I clocked in at 176.6 lbs. (I was sick over the holidays, so food consumption was low – even lower than normal). As of the 20th of January (around one month later) I am at a fairly steady 172 lbs. (I oftentimes fluctuate around 5 lbs. in weight between measurements) – or a lost of 4.6 lbs. Not too shabby.

Now a FitBit by itself won’t make this happened – but paired with monitoring my caloric intake/expenditure (which FitBit makes easy) it can be a real help.

What I Want

So where could the FitBit improve? Boy, I’m so glad we think alike! I was just about to share that with you!

Automatic Blood Pressure and Heart Rate

As I noted earlier, I would like to see FitBit automatically and continuously tracking my blood pressure and heart rate – I believe these should be very easy additions for FitBit. At first they might use an app on the phone to integrate these – as with the FitBit clipped on it may not be able to track these accurately (though with the wrist band it should be able to). Eventually it would be nice if this functionality was integrated directly into the device (which is where their newer wristband models come into play).

Automatic Sleep Monitoring

Additionally, I’d like to see automatic sleep monitoring – w/out the need to start/stop it. This is especially the case for me, b/c I have Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) which results in me napping several times a day, and I’d like to be able to easily analyze these sleeping patterns in conjunction with my nighttime sleeping patterns…but I usually forget to start/stop the FitBit when I am napping (as it is a very heavy, quick, overwhelming sleepiness that descends upon me).

Again, I think with a little refinement this should be fairly easy to accomplish. An algorithm should be able to detect when an individual is sleeping (perhaps due to lack of movement, location (GPS), and body temperature (which it doesn’t measure, but could, and would be useful as well – “Hey Mom, I have a temperature of 101 – the FitBit says so – must stay home from school today!”).

Automatic Glucose and Caloric Intake Monitoring

I believe these two will be difficult to achieve – but they should be on FitBit’s radar. There is a company that claims it is able to do caloric intake analysis based on looking at the blood through the skin and its coloring – but this is in dispute and the company has not yet released its product.

I’m not diabetic (at least the last several times I’ve asked to be tested they’ve told me I’m not), but I do have severe craving for sweets (mainly candy) and I’d like to be able to better monitor what my glucose levels are at throughout the day, whether there is a correlation between levels and cravings, and what my body does as far as glucose levels when I consume large amounts of sweets (I used to be able to consume absolutely monstrous amounts of candy – but I can still consume a giant box of Good and Plenties, a giant box of Hot Tamales, and a good number of jelly beans in a single sitting! [I try not to.]).

Automatic Weight / BMI / Body Fat Measurements

I’m fine if this uses another device (a separate weight scale), but it should integrate automatically and not be excessively pricey. This is a fairly easy goal and may already be available with the Aria, I’ll have to look into that…

Help! I’m Lost!

One of my great fears is losing my FitBit. Accidentally knocking it out of my pocket (the clip is pretty tight and I haven’t had any problems thus far), putting it through the wash, or just losing it when I take it off (and when the cats get to it!).

Recently I misplaced my FitBit. I was distressed and searched everywhere multiple times. I was able to check on the FitBit Dashboard and see it had successfully synced only a few minutes ago – so I knew it had to be in the vicinity but I couldn’t figure out where!

I love how smartphones can now be configured to ring or make other noise when needed to help you find them – I’ve used this feature on several occasions. The FitBit should offer the same functionality.

There is also that new credit card replacement company (that offers a card that can “accumulate” all your cards within it), I cannot recall their name at the moment, but they have a pretty nifty feature where if your “card” becomes separated from your “smartphone” by over a certain geographical distance your phone starts screaming. That would be helpful.

On a side-note, which will probably become less needful as I think we’ll be moving to wristband and then transparent patches for QS devices – it would be nice if the FitBit had a water sensor that would similarly cause a smartphone to start screaming when it detects it is getting wet. This could save folks a lot of agony when they discover that, yes, they did just run their FitBit through the washer and dryer! (I was really afraid of doing this at first, now I don’t worry as much, but I know it is still a real possibility!)

Creating Meals

When I go to the Langhorne Coffee House I always get the same thing – two eggs scrambled, home fries, and multi-grain toast. When I go to Panera Bread it is chicken noodle soup in a bread bowl, bread as the side, and a wild berry smoothie. At Red Robin it is a Royal Red Robin Burger with bottomless fries and bottomless freckled lemonades.

Right now in FitBit (as in all other food logging services I’ve used) one has to enter each component of a meal. It would be nice if one could create “common” meals and choose these which would then include all the components rather than having to add each one individually. So far it hasn’t been too big of an inconvenience – but a year from now or three years from now – I may grow tired of entering the same old components in individually.

Wristband Issues

When you go to sleep at night you are supposed to place your Fitbit in a comfortable wristband and place this on your non-dominant arm. I do so but have run into an issue with some regularity – the wristband comes off. I move around in my sleep (I think) and so it just comes apart. This could be easily rectified by using something besides simple Velcro to hold the wristband together. For the time being I am placing a rubber band around the wristband to hold it in place – this worked without incident last night and hopefully will become a sustainable (if hodge podge) solution.

Three Days on Shakeology.

I’ve been drinking a lot of Ensure nutrition shakes recently. Andrew Vogel suggested that I try Shakeology. It is fairly expensive – $130 for 30 servings ($4.33/serving). Ensure is less than half this expensive – but Shakeology has a good reputation, its ingredients are certainly exponentially superior to Ensure, and home-made meals aren’t as cheap as one would think. So, I jumped and gave it a try…

A picture from Shakeology's site portraying their drinks.
A picture from Shakeology’s site portraying their drinks.

I ordered it last week and received it on Friday. I started consuming it for breakfast on Saturday and have consumed it each day since then (Saturday, Sunday, Monday). I chose the tropical strawberry flavor. I’m not a huge fan of chocolate and while vanilla is okay, I prefer strawberry.

I had read that chocolate and vanilla the best flavors with tropical strawberry coming in third, but I saw their money-back guarantee which states that they’ll refund me even if I use the entire thing and don’t like it…so I figured why not start out with the least-tasty one and then move to more more-tasty ones if that one didn’t do it for me.

The first thing I don’t like about Shakeology is that it is a powder. An Ensure I can remove from the fridge and drink at a moment’s notice – Shakeology I have to put in a blender, mix a fluid and ice, and spend 5-10 minutes in preparation/cleanup. Bahh, humbug. This is on the upper limit of my tolerance for meal preparation (I know, I don’t have much tolerance at all!), but I’m making the sacrifice. I also realize that when Soylent is released I’ll face the same dilemma.

The next challenge I faced was figuring out how large a scoop was. The package said to use one scoop of Shakeology for each shake I made – but how big is a scoop? 42 grams? Great, that doesn’t really help me! I googled it and discovered I wasn’t the only one struggling to appropriately measure Shakeology. Thankfully, I also discovered there was an easy remedy – a pre-measured scoop inside the bag! Unfortunately, the scoop was buried so I had to fish around a bit (wasting powder which floated into the air and clung to my hand) – but at least they included a scoop. Still, I have to wonder – why include other materials in the box (e.g. instruction booklets) outside of the bag and not include the scoop outside of the bag? This would prevent A LOT of confusion (especially for less tech savvy users who might not use Google to quickly find the answer) and also would avoid unnecessary waste.

Nope, I’m not done complaining. I want to let you know all the bad stuff before I talk about the good. The next issue was using the scoop. First off, it is really tall and it doesn’t have any external numbering on it. It has a line that divides the scoop in half – is that saying that 42 grams is to the halfway mark or is to filling it to the top? I still don’t know the answer – I’ve been too lazy to google it and am currently just filling it to the very top – assuming that when they say “one scoop” they mean “one scoop.”

The scoop is also inferior. Because of its depth it doesn’t usually get a full scoop – there are air pockets. Try as I might I can’t get it to fill entirely with Shakeology powder. So how many powder am I getting? Did they account for this so I’m still getting around 42 grams? Or am I getting 32 grams?

Again, this is an easy fix. Make a regular sized scoop and tell us to make our shakes with two scoops. This should resolve the air bubble problem and doesn’t significantly increase our labor.

The first day I dumped in my powder then 12 ounces of almond milk followed by some ice. I learned that putting the powder in first isn’t the best idea – it doesn’t seem to mix as well and it makes it more difficult to measure out 12 ounces.

I also was frustrated that there wasn’t any indication of how much ice to add – just add ice. Unfortunately, I added too much and ended up with sludge instead of a shake…but I still drank it.

On my second day I used Lactaid fat-free milk (12 oz.) then added the shakeology powder and finally some (less than before) ice. This shake turned out fine.

Today I used Lactaid fat-free milk, the powder, and a bunch of frozen mixed berries. Again, the shake came out fine.

So how does it taste? Hmmm….Sandy? I thought at first the issue might be that I hadn’t added any other ingredients besides the liquid to the powder – and so today I tried adding the berries (a significant number), but the taste was still sandy. I feel the powder granules getting stuck between my teeth, in front of my gums, under my tongue. For somebody with OCD this is a quite unpleasant experience.

I’m using a normal, run-of-the-mill blender by Hamilton Beach – so I’m not sure if it just doesn’t do a good job or completely mixing the ingredients (I doubt it) or if the sandy composition is just inevitable. It doesn’t make it undrinkable – but it certainly isn’t as tasty or pleasant as Ensure.

So my thoughts overall? Well, I’m going to keep mixing and see if I can find anything out about reducing the graininess of the shakes. If I can’t, I’ll probably return it and try vanilla. If I don’t find vanilla to be better flavored, then I’ll likely continue with some sort of nutritional shake – but not Shakeology.

I’ve tried Garden of Life’s RAW Meal previously, which also had a grainy consistency, which caused me to discontinue using it….but if that is the way all these shake powders are, then I might as well go back to RAW Meal which is around 1/3rd the price of Shakeology but still uses high quality ingredients.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Alternatives?

P.S. One other thing I don’t like is that Shakeology is somehow associated with Team Beach Body. Ummm…I’m not looking to form a beach body – just want to be healthy. I don’t really want to go about talking about “beachbody.” I know, I know – not that big of a deal…I’m just saying, not everyone who is using this product is looking to get their “beach body” on.

No More Fruit Juice For Me.

VFusion - Strawberry / Banana Smoothie
VFusion – Strawberry / Banana Smoothie

I love fruit juice. When I go to Target I buy 5-10 64 oz fruit juices of various types. Some time ago I moved from fruit juice to 100% fruit juice – it was my endeavor to be a little healthier. When I saw light 100% fruit juice I would get it as I knew it reduced the number of calories I was drinking, but recently I made a discovery that makes me want to put away fruit juice for good…

V8! Yeah, I know it has been around for years – and I’ve still never drank the original formula. The thought of drinking tomatoes always disgusted me. I’ll probably try drinking one of those vegetable juices one of these days (or maybe not), but I’ve been drinking the V8 VFusions and love them.

I should clarify – I like the fruit smoothies (Strawberry Banana is the only one I’ve had so far, but I think I could sustain myself on this liquid alone for the rest of my life without complain) – the regular juices are fine – but they taste like regular juice.

What really makes these drinks nifty is that they are not only 100% fruit juice but also 100% vegetable juice. The vegetable juice is a blend of sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets. Yeah, yeah, I know that still doesn’t help me with my green vegetables – but I still think it is a step in the right direction.

Since at least this drink is in “smoothie” form it also feels more filling – so I’m likely to drink less calories overall – which is good because the VFusions are only 36 oz – just over half the size of 100% fruit juices (yet priced the same).

Soylent May Finally Provide the Diet I’ve Been Looking For…

I’m pretty excited about Soylent, a new liquid meal replacement, which has been successfully utilized by the founder for several months now and is being tested by a number of other individuals – to what appears to be largely positive reviews.

I don’t want to go completely to a meal replacement – but neither does Rhinehart, the inventor of Soylent – he still eats “normal food” but chooses healthier options and spends less.

This isn’t like a lot of other meal replacements which only partially provide the necessary ingredients/nutrients to maintain health, Rhinehart’s goal is something that could be used to entirely replace traditional foods.

I’m also excited b/c it seems pretty evident that the company is run by a bunch of young, energetic, intelligent idealists who I expect will take the company in some great directions – e.g. I’m psyched that they are releasing the “recipe” as open source.

That is about all I have to say at the moment. Product is supposed to begun mass delivery in August and I hope to have the opportunity to try it within a month or two thereafter…but I figured I’d write a short post so folks could explore what is currently occurring with Soylent if they so desired. 🙂

Bibliography

PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser.

I have four cats – Hermione, Barclay, Piper, and George. I love my cats – but on occasion they can drive me insane. One of the primary ways they encourage insanity is by whining when they want food and ripping into Charity and I’s food when they are hungry. We used to leave food out all the time for them – but Barclay has an eating disorder of some sort. She will continue eating as long there is food, puke, then repeat (forever).

Slimcat Toy and Food Dispenser
Slimcat Toy and Food Dispenser from Amazon.com

She gained tons of weight – I think at her heaviest she was 25 lbs. She was going to die (from diabetes or etc.), we were spending unnecessary amounts on cat food, and cleaning up vomit is not my idea of fun…so we began rationing the food, giving them portions in the morning and evening.

But sometimes they aren’t happy with this, or think we should feed them at a different time, and sometimes they want more food – especially Barclay. This means they break into our food – rice, crackers, cereal. Sometimes they knock over the trash can – all forms of disasters can occur when they feel they need more food.

Recently they broke into a bag of cat food I accidentally left out. I moved it into the pantry and a few days later noticed something interesting – the cats weren’t begging for food. What had happened? Well, with the bag ripped the cats where able to stick their paw under the pantry door and pull out pieces of food and keep themselves sated. It was easy enough that Hermione, Piper, and George could do it whenever they were hungry and difficult enough that Barclay wouldn’t keep eating forever.

I wanted to replicate this experience. One option I found (and have been very happy with thus far) is the PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser. It is a plastic ball with holes cut into it. By sliding the plastic around you can make either the smaller or larger holes open. The top pops off and one can fill the toy with cat food. As the cats knock it around the floor a few pieces come out here and there. In this way the cats have to work for their food (we still give them regular servings as well) and also can’t get too much all at once. I see it as a reasonable solution for anyone who has an eating disordered cat – especially in a multi-cat household.

Garden of Life’s RAW Meal.

Fruit juice mix
Fruit juice mix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve talked on occasion about my feeble strivings to eat better without spending a lot of time doing so. This is a common dilemma, I think, for geeks and nerds and others of my ilk. We have many other endeavors we’d rather pursue than eating – and this oftentimes results in a poor diet. I’m still working to find my solution and slowly replacing my diet with healthier, quick alternatives – in addition to being lovingly cared for by my awesome wife who is always cooking something time consuming and delicious for me.

I think I have found another addition to my healthy regimen: Garden of Life’s RAW Meal. It falls into the category of “meal replacement” and comes in a large jar which cost me $45 from a local natural food store but can be picked up via Amazon for $35. Each jug provides around 14 “meals.” The consistency of the substance is somewhat grainy/sandy. It doesn’t taste bad – or much at all. I mix it in with some 100% fruit juice and slosh it down. It isn’t a very tasty meal – but it is a healthy and quick meal.

It consists of a sprout blend (e.g. amaranth, millet, buckwheat, and so on), flax and coconut, fruits, enzymes and probiotics, and so on. The whole meal consists of only 270 calories (not including the fruit juice) but provides loads of nutrients – e.g. 100% of Vitamin D, K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, B12, Pantothenic Acid, Zinc, Manganese, Molybdenum, Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin E, Thiamin, Niacin, Folic Acid, and Chromium.

I don’t use it every day – I’ve had it twice now…but I’ve had enough to know it is something my palate can take and which is quick and easy to eat. You should only use it once a day at most, though I doubt that will be a problem for most. 🙂

The Healthy Plate Overview.

1992 food pyramid diagram
Image via Wikipedia

The USDA has replaced an icon that has been around since my childhood (the food pyramid) with a new, simpler icon – the healthy plate. For those who want to understand how the healthy plate works, why the USDA made the change, and what upcoming initiatives the USDA has to encourage healthy living, Daniel J. DeNoon has written an excellent article over at WebMD here.