Dear Ms. W,

I am wondering about powders that you mix into drinks to make them fortified (and hopefully, their drinker fortified as well). I look at the packets and containers in the health food store and am kind of appalled—lots of them have evaporated cane juice and also many other ingredients I cannot pronounce or identify. There are quite a few that claim to be gluten-free and these seem to have the most healthful i.e. least manufactured i.e. most food-like attributes. Are there any you can recommend? Preferably that do not turn one's smoothie bright green?

Love, your faithful reader, etc.

Dear Faithful,

It is appalling! I too am frustrated by the near-universal sweetening and chemicalizing of the American food supply.

Of course the makers of powders have a good reason to add 'evaporated cane juice' and 'organic fructose' (that's corporate organic code for sugar) to their elixirs--their powders usually taste awful without sugaring .

That said, I have limited experience with fortifying powders. I have used the powders that one can add to smoothies.

Is this what you mean, Faithful? Or are you thinking more along the lines of (fructose-sweetened) Emergen-C?

I have used two different supplement powders in the past six years and drank Emergen-C very occasionally.

Both of them resulted in a vibrant green smoothies, unless I used a cup or more of blueberries.

The powder I have used the most is Ultimate Meal. It's got a comprehensive ingredient list that prompted a beloved to remark that it's globalization in a can. There are no unpronounceable mystery ingredients.

To me, Ultimate Meal tastes green and chalky even when prepared exactly as directed. (And the Ultimate Meal people are very directive.) I prefer it with a cup of blueberries. The website is quite emphatic about the product and their beliefs regarding human nutrition, and while I find this off-putting, they seem to be offering a high quality product.

Personally, I shy away from powders these days. They were a helpful nutritional short-cuts during darker days when I wasn't eating solid food, let alone complete meals.

Nowadays, if I want a smoothie, a high-speed blender allows me to purée many nutritious ingredients together.

For example, I might put in a base of fruits, including frozen berries, and then add hemp seeds, raw cacoa nibs and bee pollen. I've put walnuts and kale in with blueberries. Enough berries will obscure the taste of crumbled seaweeds as well.

If you're seeking high quality nutrient fortified convenience, I would go with the Ultimate Meal. Know that like most organically grown value-added unsweetened foodstuffs, it has a hefty ultimate price tag.

The price of inadequate nutrition, fatigue, irritability and potential loss of bone-density is higher in my book, though. So if you're not finding that you're eating fruits and vegetables several times a day and/or not consuming the amount of calories you need to maintain a healthy weight, high-quality nutrition powder blended with fruits and/or vegetables could be a good option--and if you add enough blueberries your smoothie will be bright blue! Perhaps you'll find blue more palatable.

Also, speaking of imbibable nutrient dense foods, I've become a fan of goat's milk kefir in the last month. While it's more expensive than cultured cow's milk, it's much richer so I find I drink less of it per week and enjoy it more.

Note to celiacs: Emergen-C now states that none of their products contain gluten.


faithful reader said...

Dear Ms. W—why, thank you for replying so speedily! I too have found the Ultimate Meal, while charmingly packaged and having ingredients of which I approve, to be, as you say, chalky (as well as unassailably green). As one would imagine would be the case if one tried to mix freeze-dried "keenwa" and millet powder with *anything*.

I think I have found, for now, my temporary calorie-raising solution in the unappeallingly named Spiru-tein, which is, lo and behold, gluten-free! Also, they make a kind they call "Simply Natural," that doesn't have added sugars or weirdnesses.

I am tolerating dairy well right now, so a sample packet of this (and you can get a free sample here) went in my smoothie this morning, along with organic cow's milk, flax oil, and of COURSE as many frozen organic blueberries as possible. ;o) The resultant beverage was thick and creamy in a seaweedy kind of way (like, agar agar, carrageenan, Irish moss kind of way), and not one bit sweet. It was actually really lovely.

I do wonder if one is getting really ANY spirulina benefit when the products has been processed until it's no longer green...but hey, anyway I'm getting some protein, which is really the point. Bottoms up!

faithful reader said...

PS there's these people too, who offer an attractive green powder:


(and, though the first ingredient is wheatgrass, still bill their product as GF, which boggles the mind, but okay)

and here is the hemp powder I ogled in the store:


(they make a Vanilla Spice one too, but it has added cane sugar, grrr.)