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

Smooth moves
Bio-tiful Dairy has added Cacao Kefir and Honey & Ginger Kefir Smoothies to its range, aimed at health-conscious consumers wanting to upgrade their ordinary dairy purchases, as Natasha Bowes, Founder of Bio-tiful Dairy explained: “Our Cacao and Honey & Ginger NPD are building on the widespread appeal of Kefir and naturally functional dairy. With our research into trends and feedback straight from consumers themselves, we’re looking to lead the way with the most appealing flavours.”

Bio-tiful Dairy Kefir contains over 40 strains of gut-friendly bacteria (compared to conventional milk that has zero and yoghurt that only has a couple) and is the ideal choice to maintain a healthy gut and boosting immunity. As gut health continues to grow into a mainstream global trend, Bio-tiful Dairy continues its mission to transform dairy and help consumers improve their milk and yoghurt dairy consumption to a more nutritious and higher quality dairy such as Kefir.

With two of the Test team already fans of kefir, it wasn’t hard to find volunteers for these new flavours! The Cacao variety was rich and creamy, with a delicious sharp yet chocolate flavour. “I feel like I am indulging in an alternative chocolate milkshake with no guilt and the benefit of essential vitamins and minerals – win win! The Honey & Ginger flavour was warming and had a depth of sweetness from the honey – a real winner at breakfast time.”

Feeling fruity
Made with real fruit, UPBEAT Drinks’ new variant combines blood orange with the zesty sweetness of mandarin. The new flavour delivers taste, hydration and nutrition without a single drop of sugar and with 12g of premium whey protein, and joins the existing portfolio of UPBEAT Protein Waters, which includes Blueberry & Raspberry and Summer Lemon.

A mix of spring water, real fruit from low sugar fruit juice, whey protein, vitamins and minerals, they contain fewer than 55 calories, and are scientifically proven to help you stay strong, feel energised and maintain mental performance whilst keeping you hydrated. The whey protein added to UPBEAT is not only vegetarian but also includes all nine essential amino acids, designed to keep the body strong. UPBEAT also incorporates vitamin B5 to support mental performance and vitamins B6 and B12 to support metabolism and to help reduce stress and fatigue.

“I really enjoyed the combination of Bloody Orange & Mandarin in the UPBEAT Protein Water, and I was very impressed with the health pedigree of the ingredients as well. It delivered a nice fruity, refreshing drink, with a natural taste, added vitamins and minerals and some protein – so much better for me than a quick can of fizzy pop.”

A splash of paradise
Alpro’s new coconut drink – Alpro Coconut Unsweetened – is 100 per cent plant-based, fortified with B12 and vitamin D, low in fat, and contains no sugars and no sweeteners at all! A great alternative to cow’s milk, Alpro Coconut Unsweetened can be added to porridge, baked into cakes, added to curries or soups, or used in lattes.

Alpro Coconut Unsweetened drink joins Alpro’s Unsweetened family, which also includes Oat Unsweetened drink, Almond Unsweetened drink, Soya Unsweetened drink and Alpro Plain Unsweetened Big Pot – which all contain no sugars and no sweeteners at all (that’s right, when Alpro say ‘Unsweetened’, they really mean it!)

“I used the Alpro Coconut Unsweetened in my morning porridge, and I like the creaminess of it, as well as the slight coconutty flavour it adds to the oats. I also make a mean coconut latte – I find the Coconut unsweetened doesn’t need any additional sweetness added, unlike soya milk, and I like the texture it makes in a hot drink. Alpro describes it as adding a ‘splash of paradise to your day’ – I couldn’t agree more! I will definitely be trying the suggestions for using the Coconut Unsweetened in a coconut chocolate cake, or a nice curry or soup. Alpro never let me down with a new product!”

Eat happy
Mr Lee’s Pure Foods Co. has revamped its recipes and packaging in Mr Lee’s Noodles. Its range of six absolutely ‘no-nasties’ noodles, Mr Lee’s is crafted to authentic Asian recipes using the finest freeze-dried proteins and vegetables, air-dried rice noodles and skilfully developed premium spices.

By using the latest technologies available, Mr Lee’s is one of the market’s lowest in salts, sugars, fats (saturated), calories with no nasty chemicals (MSGs, additives, colours), all certified low-in-sugar with Sugarwise and gluten-free with Coeliac UK and Coeliac AU.

“Perfect for the busy parent or time-poor professional, our naturally gluten-free noodles are ideal for anyone looking for a healthier way to eat, without giving up on taste or convenience. We’ve worked hard to make sure each and every cup contains a restaurant-calibre dish, authentic in taste and texture to the oriental cuisine you’d expect from any top noodle bar,” said Damien Lee, CEO of Mr Lee’s Pure Foods.

The Taste Test team are big fans of Mr Lee’s – they were thrilled to see a box arrive with the new look. “I tried the Hong Kong Street Beef, and the Dragon Fire Vegetables. Both were ‘medium spice’ and they did pack a good amount of heat! Making them was easy peasy, just add hot water – I went for the ‘less soup’ option as I prefer them saucy. Both pots had excellent amounts of flavour, nice chunks of vegetables, in good amounts, too. My colleague managed to snaffle the Coconut Chicken Laksa flavour, but I am determined to get myself one to try soon – I looked forward to my Mr Lee’s lunch all morning!”

Taste of the future
One of the leading manufacturers of high protein within the UK and with historical credentials in sports nutrition, SCI-MX Nutrition has launched new PRO 2GO, a range of high protein packed snacks for the health-conscious consumer. The range includes gooey bars, with a liquid centre, raw bars which are vegan and come in two convenient portions each less than 100 calories, high fibre flapjacks and gluten free bakes which provide a healthy, savoury alternative to everyday crisps.

Steve Rich, Sales & Marketing Director, PRO 2GO explained why the company had launched these new products: “People are becoming increasingly aware and the importance of wellbeing and the benefits of exercise good nutrition from both a physical and mental perspective, to the point that health is now lifestyle. The snacking space is becoming much more sophisticated as consumers seek out products that support their lifestyle, ensuring their choices contribute to help 35meet their overall health demands.

“With our heritage in protein and extensive research into today’s lifestyle category, we have created PRO 2GO to appeal to consumers that want healthy and accessible high protein snacks that meet their needs throughout the day.”

“I loved the PRO 2GO – Salted Caramel & Milk Chocolate. It didn’t have that usual powdery taste or dense texture that most protein bars have, instead it was slightly salty and sweet, creamy, silky, chewy and gooey. It seemed more like an indulgent snack bar and was very satisfying – add in the 20g protein and only 1.4g sugar and this has to be almost a game changer in the protein bar options out there.”

Plant powered tea
Wellness Lab Ltd is revolutionising the tea industry with a plant powered, probiotic blend that can now easily be added to everything from drinks and yoghurts to cakes and even meals. The innovative Probiotic Tea range offers a unique series of powder blends packed full of flavour and goodness. Simple to use, the products are available in three flavours Matcha, Berry and Turmeric with each serving providing approximately one billion live cultures, and all are gluten free, dairy free and sugar free.

Our tester started with the Berries with Cultures variety, and the packaging immediately scored points with its clear message of ‘Instant Drink, Plant Based, Total 50 billion CFU, one Billion CFU per cup.’ “This was so easy to make, I added water that was just cooled after boiling, and I used one heaped teaspoon. It mixed very easy with a quick stir, no lumps. A few berry ‘bits’ floated to the top, giving it an authentic look. It had a lovely deep red colour, and the flavour was ‘very berry’, sweet with a slight sour twist, refreshing and warming at the same time. I found the Matcha and Turmeric flavours to be as intense, with the turmeric having a spicier edge, and the Matcha having a good helping of mint to balance its earthiness.”