For the past two years, I’ve been optimising my diet. No faddy dieting, but rather good solid nutrition. Like most of us, I’m concerned that the quality of food available generally has deteriorated over the years. Finding an egg or a carrot, for instance, that actually has any flavour is a challenge. I had been cruising along, a happy vegetarian for over 40 years, and feeling pretty smug in all honesty that I had it right. But our bodies and our nutritional needs change throughout our lives. For one thing, we need more (class A) protein as we (ahem) mature. There are only so many times you can eat eggs, cheese or meat in a day, and I’ve been searching for a tasty ready mix to supplement my protein intake.
BOXD ‘natural wellness’ shakes are formulated to specifically meet the nutritional needs of women. I’ve been blending like crazy recently to put these to the test. Read more to find out how I got on in the kitchen.
Protein nutritional powder
The sachets of protein powder from BOXD arrive in pretty packaging, designed to appeal to the female market.
BOXD offers a Discovery Box of sample sizes to try and larger packs for using at home. The powders have been developed specifically to meet the nutritional needs of ‘women on the go’, rather than any specific body type. It’s a different approach to the many ‘dieting’ meal-replacement mixes that have been previously been marketed to women.
The idea began with two friends, Jamal Ayton-Brown and Jamal Ramsay. Jamal R’s background is in Sports Science and five years’ experience as a health advisor with BUPA. While protein powders have been around for a while traditionally they were seen as a product especially aimed at male bodybuilders. Not so long ago, in any wholefood shop there would be shelves of giant-sized tubs of powders with muscle-toned athletes depicted on the labels. Jamal recognised this perception, as well as the common nutritional deficiencies experienced by women he was seeing in his work. When Jamal AB came on board they interviewed 100 women before developing BOXD and a ‘house-blend’ protein powder that met these specific nutritional needs.
Hearing horror stories around yo-yo dieting, eating disorders and body shame made us realise not only how widespread these feelings are, but the effects it can have on mental and physical health.BOXD founders Jamal AB and Jamal Ramsay.
BOXD protein powders are GMO and gluten free, although the ingredients are not organic. The packaging is compostable without any non-recyclable plastics, as we have come to expect.
I tried both the Premium Whey Isolate and the Vegan Pea & White Hemp, and each in madagascan vanilla and double chocolate brownie varieties.
The comprehensive information and handy recipe on the packets are so tiny you have to hold it close to read. So happily, the Discovery Box contained a larger printed card with the same details, and more information on the nutritional benefits can be found on the BOXD website. The breakdown includes ‘almost enough’ added vitamins to meet the recommended daily amounts, rather than ‘minute’ amounts (including iron, vitamin B complex, vitamin D, vitamin C) as well as electrolytes, which help to regulate pH balance and regulate cell fluid balance. Other ingredients include golden flaxseeds, rich in the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, lignan and fibre. Sunflower lecithins, processed from dehydrated sunflowers are used as an emulsifier to ensure smooth suspenson in liquids, as well as steviol glycosides in the whey powders and xylitol in the pea versions to sweeten.
I tried two methods to make a smoothie. Firstly, I made a blend using a Nutri Bullet. Surprisingly this didn’t produce the expected frothy milkshake result but a flat milky liquid. (The label suggests using plain water as an alternative). I tried the powders with both organic almond milk (I use a brand that contains only almonds and water, no other additives) and organic full fat dairy milk. It may be that the absense of any nasty additives in the powder such as thickeners, produces a thinner liquid. Additions might include a teaspoon of avocado oil, a banana, or a small amount of almond butter before blending. Of course, don’t forget to take these into account if you’re monitoring your daily nutritional intake.
Secondly, I added the milk and powder to a recycled glass jar with a screw-topped lid (for those times when an electric blender isn’t to hand) and acted like a frenzied bartender mixing a cocktail.
In both instances, the powder was completely soluble resulting in a smooth liquid with no lumps at all.
Flavour and aroma
The aromas were mild in both flavours but they were pleasant. While I preferred the taste using almond milk that may be because I’m not fond of cold cow’s milk and am more used to the nut alternative. If you enjoy drinking a glass of dairy milk that might not be a deal-breaker for you.
Normally, I avoid ‘vanilla flavoured’ products as they generally don’t contain genuine vanilla (I won’t get into the ghastly substitutes used in many commercial yogurts etc). Here though the Madagascan vanilla had a smooth aftertaste.
Both the whey and pea & white hemp versions in chocolate brownie had a good cocoa flavour (although not overly strong, and with no relation to an intense brownie). Generally, I prefer a whey protein as the legume flavour in other pea protein powders I have tried can be overpowering and not all that pleasant. Although I love chickpea hummus and bean dishes, legumes need additional flavours added to taste good, and peas just doesn’t seem to translate into a sweetened shake. However, the difference in flavour between the two BOXD protein sources was minimal.
The BOXD mixes were a little too sweet for my palate, including adding a scoop to a coffee or a green smoothie (adding less powder didn’t help here). As an aside, I’m not sure why the food industry insists on adding sweeteners to so many products. Substitutes like the popular Xylitol and Stevia are seen to be ‘healthier’ than refined sugar (time will tell) but even a little is super-sweet. In addition, whenever I do a detox or reset programme adding any sort of substitute or ‘healthier’ sweet food is my downfall. It simply makes me crave more and the knock-on effect to is eat less vegetables and fruit (although even fructrose can spike your blood sugar levels). The most effective way is to retrain the tastebuds and that element of the brain that craves the stimulation of sugar which we now know can eventually become an addiction.
The winning element of the BOXD nutritional powders is the overall flavour of the pea protein, in that you can’t taste it! This is the first powder I have found that doesn’t have that telltale legume flavour. I haven’t previously found a vegan powder that I enjoy so that was a winner.
Although I wouldn’t drink this mix every day as a straight shake but instead occasionally add a spoonful to a purely fruit smoothie or to a baking recipe, maybe pancakes or muffins. The BOXD packs conveniently features different recipes on the packet and their web site, such as protein bites and vegan cookie dough.
BOXD kindly gifted a Discovery Box of seven different flavoured 30g sachets to review. Price £12.97 (also available in 14, 20, 30 or 40 sachet boxes), plus shipping. There’s the usual options of free shipping on orders over £50, or subscribe for a 10% discount.
UPDATE: BOXD has since rebranded its products JRNY. They have also discontinued whey protein products. www.yourjrny.com
Disclaimer: As individual nutritional needs vary it’s a good idea to assess personal vitamin and nutritional levels from time to time to determine where additional support is needed. I have recently started using an App to keep track of my intake of nutrients and macros. These take a little time (and patience!) to master but I’ve found one I particularly like – Cronometer – which seems UK-product friendly. I’m not a health professional but simply charting my own way, nutritionally speaking. Always take professional advice on wellness supplements.