The FoodChain team sample a selection of new and innovative foods and drinks

Get baking
Those with busy lives and those following a gluten free diet seeking a quick and easy free from baking solution, need look no further than Doves Farm’s new FREEE mixes. The Choc Chip Cookie Mix, Pancake Mix and Chocolate Brownie Mix are quick, simple and delicious and mean even novice bakers can prepare tasty homemade treats in no time at all.

Requiring just two additional store cupboard ingredients, these mixes are free from gluten and egg, vegetarian friendly, suitable for those following a Kosher diet and can be made vegan friendly by following the back-of-pack vegan recipes.

The Taste Test team found all these mixes very quick and easy to use, with clear instructions. “The Pancake Mix only required me to add milk and oil, to make eight American breakfast pancakes, eight crêpes or waffles. I wouldn’t have known they were gluten free – the pancakes were light and crisp, with an excellent texture and flavour,” said one tester.

“To make the brownies all I had to do was add milk and butter – it mixed very easily without any lumps, and smelled deliciously chocolatey, both as batter and in the oven. They didn’t take long to bake, and the warm, gooey brownies were a real treat!”

A taste of the sea
Hoping to make a dent in the massive seafood waste problem that currently dominates the UK industry, which sees over half of caught seafood being discarded as offcuts, is Sea Chips – the UK’s first ever hand-crafted salmon skin crisp company.

High in protein, collagen and Omega 3, Sea Chips are not only good for the consumer but also for the planet. Taking inspiration from Asia where fish skin crisps are causing a frenzy, the 100 per cent natural crisps are available in a range of flavours including Lightly Salted, Lime & Chilli and Salt & Vinegar.

“I like how these products are using something that is usually thrown away, and that they are a much healthier alternative to potato crisps. They are definitely for fish lovers, and you can smell the sea as soon as you open the pack! These are unusual and I think they will be a winner for those more adventurous types looking for a new snack with eco credentials.”

Solving the plastic problem
Percol has introduced a new coffee range that comes in fully-home compostable and plastic-free packaging. The first coffee brand to receive the ‘Plastic Free Trust Mark’ from A Plastic Planet, the new coffees are perfect for those who enjoy an eco-friendly way of living and a delicious coffee experience.

On top of all that, the premium beans are Fairtrade, organic, hand-picked and freshly roasted in the UK. The range comprises of six delicious variants – the ground coffee comes in Rich Americano, Delicious Decaf, Bold Peruvian, Smooth Colombian and Intense Espresso; and the Whole Beans are available in Intense Espresso.

“I love how some manufacturers are responding to this plastic issue so positively, and I am really impressed with this range from Percol,” said our tester. “I tried the Rich Americano and the Smooth Columbian ground coffees and both created a rich, smooth brew. They were intensely fragrant, with the scent of coffee bursting from the pouch as soon as it was opened. I also loved how the packaging was able to go on the compost heap!”

Meal in a bottle
UK-based Huel has launched Huel Ready-to-drink, a nutritionally complete meal, pre-blended for convenience. Available in two delicious flavours, Vanilla and Berry, Huel Ready-to-drink has been formulated by registered nutritionist James Collier BSc (Hons) RNutr, to include all 26 essential vitamins and minerals, along with the perfect balance of protein, carbs, fibre and fat you need on a daily basis.

Huel Ready-to-drink is packaged in a 100% recyclable plastic bottle and like all Huel’s products is vegan, which allows the brand to continue with their mission of providing convenient, affordable and sustainable food for the growing global population.

Speaking of the launch, Huel’s Co-founder, Julian Hearn said: “The launch of the Huel Ready-to-drink allows us to enter a new market, targeting those who specifically find themselves eating on-the-go. We can now provide time-conscious consumers with quality nutrition when they might otherwise reach for an unfulfilling, unsustainable quick-fix.”

“I was worried that a meal in a bottle wouldn’t be satisfying, but I needn’t have been concerned,” said our tester. “The drink has a thick texture, and the portion size is generous – it took me a little while to finish it, and I definitely wasn’t hungry afterwards! Both flavours were great, I preferred the vanilla, which was sweet and very milkshake like. I would definitely buy this if I was in need of a quick meal and wanted to be sure it was healthy and addressed all my nutritional needs.”

Let’s get wonky
Spare Snacks’ mission is to take unloved wonky fruit and veg and turn them into delicious, healthy snacks that are great for people, producers and the planet. Now with added crunch, the brand has reformulated and rebranded its Pure range of 100% Apple, Pear and, brand new, Beetroot Crisps; alongside the launch of an innovative new healthily seasoned range, Pear & Ginger, Apple & Cinnamon and Beetroot & Apple Cider Vinegar Crisps.

Key to the crunch, taste and health profile of the premium tasting snacks, all of Spare’s crisps are air-dried, never fried. They are all under 77 Kcals per bag, making them perfect for anytime snacking, dipping or adding crunch to salads, cereals or lunch boxes; they’re a convenient pre- and post-workout snack; and the new Beetroot snacks even pair with craft beers and cocktails.

The team were immediately impressed with the packaging of Spare Snacks – they loved the attention to detail, vibrant colours, illustrations and even the font style used: “I most definitely would have spotted Spares packaging on a supermarket shelf and been drawn to them,” said our tester. “I homed in on the Beetroot and Apple Cider Vinegar flavour as, ACV is something I have just started getting in to. I loved the fact there is no added sugar, and that these are a source of protein and are high in fibre. The crisps are all different shapes and sizes, with a very earthy, slightly sweet beetroot flavour and then the hint of sharp ACV. They definitely require a lot more crunching than your average crisps, which meant the packet lasted longer – yay!”

Flour power
Matthews Cotswold Flour is a family-owned, independent flour miller based in Shipton under Wychwood in the Cotswolds. The company, which has been milling flour for over 100 years, specialises in a number of flour ranges including organic, continental, artisan and bakers.

Award winning Matthews Cotswold Eight Grain Flour includes a carefully selected blend of malted wheat flour, rye flakes, wheat gluten, oat flakes, maize, linseed, millet seed and sunflower seed to create a full flavour and high fibre, strong white flour. This wholesome flour is ideal for baking bread and rolls producing excellent results every time.

For those looking for a great healthy option that is easier to digest than other flour, Matthews produces White Light Spelt Flour. Spelt is an ancient grain, first said to be cultivated over 5000 years ago, and looks similar to wheat in appearance but has a tougher husk that helps to protect the nutrients in the grain. It’s rich in calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, iron and manganese, plus vitamins E and B-complex.

The Team’s resident baker was very impressed with the Matthews products! The Eight Grain flour created a beautiful loaf, with a delicious bready scent, and lovely nutty texture. “The flour was easy to work with and I was very pleased with my bake,” he said.

The White Light Spelt Flour also made a wonderful loaf, and he liked its versatility – it can also be used to make pasta and as a thickener. “I will definitely be trying some other Matthews products now!” he added.