Wendyl Wants to Know: One Square Meal a feat of food science
This product was launched by Olympic gold medallist Hamish Carter and is supported by people like author Keri Hulme and Saatchi chief Kevin Roberts on its website. It has managed the complex food science task of providing exactly a third of your daily nutritional and energy requirements in one serve (both biscuits in the pack). That's 33 per cent of everything from protein to carbohydrate to fibre and even zinc. One serving packs a 694 calorie count but we are talking one whole meal. And the makers are to be congratulated for providing extensive and informative nutritional advice about the product on their website which is very rare. According to its packaging this is so innovative that there are patents pending internationally. But probably the most telling statement on the pack is "No More Guesswork". This is a food for people who want fuel without the fuss, so let's see what is in that fuel.
One Square Meal Apricot with Manuka Honey
$4 for two bars.
It is great that the primary ingredient in here is oats because healthy eaters are a big fan of them. They are low GI, high in protein and soluble fibre which helps reduce cholesterol and are rich in B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.
They are enjoying a resurgence in popularity with porridge sales soaring worldwide. In Britain porridge oats sales have increased by 9 per cent in the last year.
Dried apricots 12 per cent (with antioxidant (220)
These are apricots which have been dried but then preserved with sulphur dioxide (220) which can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Apricots are high in beta carotene, as well as potassium and fibre.
Manuka honey 11 per cent
This is wonderful Kiwi stuff being hailed worldwide as a cure-all with antibiotic properties. Honey is a great sweetener because it has a slightly lower GI reading than plain sugar which means it takes longer to digest in the body and reduces the chance of blood sugar spikes. It also has nutritional benefits rather than being an empty calorie food.
I have no idea what oil is used here. But on the website they mention rice bran oil as an ingredient, so perhaps this is the case. If so, it is a good choice as it's free of transfats.
This is a sugar which is taken from a starch. Sometimes food manufacturers will state where it is from such as wheat or corn.
Isolated soy protein (non GM)
This product is a great way to increase the protein content of processed foods. It is basically protein taken out of soybeans and it has been the topic of some controversy regarding the phytoestrogens in soy which some studies suggest may increase the risk of certain forms of cancer while others contradict this. Most of the soybeans produces in the United States have been genetically modified to resist the herbicide RoundUp and are known as "Round-Up Ready" soybeans. This means that the crop can be sprayed to kill weeds but the soybeans are resistant. There are concerns that GM crops will have an adverse effect on biodiversity. For instance, GM crops that are tolerant to herbicides could lead to a reduction in weed populations that act as refuges for beneficial insects, and/or those that are eaten by birds. So the manufacturers are to be commended for paying the premium price required to get non GM soy protein.
Whole grain wheat
This is the good healthy stuff which is the intact wheat grain that hasn't been refined and therefore lost valuable nutrients.
A humectant is something which keeps a food moist and glycerine is a very common additive in processed foods to do this job. Glycerine is a by-product of soap-making and biodiesel production and in biodiesel production vegetable oils or animal fats are reacted with an alcohol to produce fuel and glycerol. So some vegetarians have concerns about consuming glycerine in their food.
This is rice ground up into a flour.
Grapes which are dried to become raisins. Many raisins are preserved with sulphur dioxide as mentioned under the dried apricots entry.
This is cornflour and most likely in here as a thickener.
Vegetable gum (acacia)
Vegetable gums are used in thickeners but it appears to be here for more fibre, according to the website. Acacia gum, known as gum arabic, comes from the sap of the acacia tree. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2008 found that it has prebiotic properties which promote growth of good bacteria in the gut.
I'm not sure how a product can say "no artificial flavours" on its packaging yet fail to prove it in the ingredients list. By simply listing the word "Flavour" on an ingredients list there is no proof that the flavour isn't obtained from thousands of complex chemicals.
Vitamins and Minerals
(Calcium, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Zinc, Niacin, Vitamin B2, Vitamin A, Folate, Iodine, Vitamin D). These are additives put in here to enhance the nutritional capacity of the food.
Malted barley extract
This is loaded with B vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorous plus protein. It is made by germinating the whole barley grain and then it is dried. This process changes the starch in the grain into sugars called maltodextrins and maltose. These sugars take longer to metabolise in the body so they have a low GI.
Emulsifier (soy lecithin)
Soy lecithin is a yellow-brownish fatty substance which occurs in animal and plant tissues, in this case soya beans. It is in this product to keep oils and waters mixed together.
Natural colour (caramel III)
Technically this is a natural colour as it is made out of a natural carbohydrate which is heat treated with ammonia but bears no relation to the caramel we make on our stoves by heating sugar. All the caramel colours are controversial, as I detailed in my analysis of Coke v Pepsi, because there are claims that they are toxic and a carcinogenic but there has been no conclusive evidence to prove that caramel colours should be banned.
It takes 18 ingredients (I'm counting all the vitamins as one) to make this food which could be described as a feat of food science. By eating both bars in this package you are safe in the knowledge that you have consumed exactly a third of all your nutritional and energy requirements for the day.
But I'm a bit annoyed at the clarity of their labelling. What vegetable oil are they using? What kind of flavourings? Artificial, synthetic or natural?
It's not enough to state on the packaging that there are no artificial flavours, it needs to be backed up on the ingredients panel. However, this would be a great food for busy people who don't have time to cook or don't have a very good knowledge of what foods are good for you and it is a far better alternative than a drive-through hamburger and fries. But I would hate to see someone eating three servings of this a day thinking they have a great diet.
To eat well it is important to consume some real food such as fresh fruit and vegetables so swapping One Square Meal occasionally for a ham and salad wholegrain bread sandwich might be a good idea.
* A feat of food science providing exactly 33 per cent of all your nutritional and energy needs.
* Some clarity needed with the labelling.
* Great for busy people but not something you'd want to eat three times a day.It is important to consume some real food such as fresh fruit and vegetable